Say a pharmaceutical company is considering whether or not to produce a product that could cure a world health pandemic causing blindness to millions of people including children. While the demand for the product is obvious, the customer population is located in some of the word’s most impoverished regions, and unlikely to afford the product. The ethical business question arises: what should the pharmaceutical company do?
This famous MERCK & Co., Inc. business ethics case has been widely discussed in many ethics courses .The company ultimately decided to produce the medicine helping to cure millions of people and set the ethical standard for pharmaceutical companies around the world.
At Limestone College, regardless of which business major concentration you pursue from bachelor’s in business management to bachelor’s in finance, one of the required courses that you’ll take is BA 310/BA 310H Ethical Issues in the Workplace. The primary objective of this course is to expose the student to many of the significant interrelationships, issues, philosophies, and points of view that affect the relationship between business and society.
According to Change, the magazine of higher learning, business ethics as an academic discipline began in mid-1970s when “a group of scholars, primarily in U.S. Catholic universities, began to study business from the standpoint of ethical theory.” Not long after, Society for Business Ethics was formed and two academic journals on the subject emerged leading the way towards widespread adoption of ethics coursework in business schools.
Today, business ethics is a common course in business schools across the country, and a number of prominent publications such as U.S. News & World Report and The Wall Street Journal have covered the topic and its rising popularity in higher education. While the teaching methods vary, many schools use the case study approach where students examine current case studies applying the principles of ethics theory to evaluate cases from multiple points of view.