The Business End of Integrity

From Features & Blogs

The Business End of IntegrityLast year, Schreiner University identified three signature programs that have demonstrated strength, value and the potential to make the University stand out among its peer institutions. In this issue, SCENE magazine takes a closer look at the business department’s Integrity Ambassadors in Business program. We will look at each of the other programs— Graphic Design and Life Sciences—in future issues. The Integrity Ambassadors in Business program, which began this fall, is a new integrated approach to exploring ethics that potentially impacts more than 400 students annually. Dr. Charles Torti, associate professor of business, conceived of the IAB program.

“Our program is unique because students do not merely study ethics as a stand-alone course,” Torti said. “Instead, IAB is a four-year program that is integrated into seven courses that are common to all business majors.”

Those taking courses in accounting, business, finance, information systems management and marketing learn through a series of online simulation games, threaded discussions, formal lectures, ethics debates and other class projects that integrity and achieving a solid bottom line are complementary and not conflicting.

“Integrity is the congruence of your thoughts, words and actions in daily application of business and societal values,” Torti said. “We want students to realize that integrity and achieving business goals are complementary. This program is really about developing students into better decision makers.”

The IAB program uses an assessment tool to help students understand their own ethical viewpoints, and introduces them to four ethical perspectives traditional to Western culture through the philosophers who espoused them: rights and responsibilities (Immanuel Kant), results (John Stuart Mill), relationships (John Rawls) and virtue ethics (Alasdair MacIntyre). These are the main ethical lenses through which people view the world and one thrust of the IAB program is to get students to recognize which lens they use and how that affects their decision-making in business as well as in other aspects of their lives. Students will learn to recognize ethical dilemmas and potential threats to integrity.

“Once you know your perspective, you will need to know if there are other things you need to look at before making a decision—other options, other primary players and secondary players, other stakeholders. We will look closely at cases where there are no rules and how you make decisions then,” Torti said.

“Although there are lots of laws and policies in business, there are frequently cases where no rules or road maps exist, or they are unfamiliar.” What makes the Schreiner program unique is the integration of these issues with existing course material, rather than teaching ethics as a stand-alone subject.

“The timing on a program like this is way overdue,” Torti said. “We can’t be passive about integrity. I’m optimistic that this kind of integrated ethics curriculum will really help make a difference and impact the lives of our students.”