2012 March 31st to April 2nd is the most memorable days for my MBA course work. During these three days, I had my Ethics, Governance and Competition Policy (EGCP) workshop at the Manchester Business School (MBS) in Manchester, UK.
Ethics, governance and competition policy are terms that rarelyappear in Chinese MBA textbooks. This might be the reason why Manchester Business Schooloffers this workshop forstudents attendingany of the 8 global locations. This is also the reason why TongjiUniversity appointed this course as our Tongji-Manchester dual MBA program's selective course.
In the EGCP course, professor McNutt presented that the fundamentals of business ethics are about the mapping of the value set into the management decision of the stakeholder firm. Value is part of the cognitive sub-structure of an organization's culture, and setting up values means establishing a code of ethical practice (CoEP). However, an ethical foundation is absent in many corporations nowadays, and it is urgent that corporations realize and combine "business" and "ethics" together to create a corporate governance that goes along with being a corporate citizen, taking up corporate social responsibility and following business ethics.
We still remember the Sanlu group adding adulterants to milk and infant formula (melamine), which caused the death of sixteen infants，860 babies to be hospitalized, and up to 300,000 suffered side effects. The lead contamination scandal of Mattel toys put lead in the paint at 180 times the legal limit to increase the profit margin by using cheaper raw material. 14 people jumped off buildings due to in-human working conditions and violations of human rights at Foxconnfrom Jan 23th to Nov 5th 2010…
While most common rules in the business world arethat corporations pursue Free Market theory—to maximize shareholder value/profit and minimize costs (Milton Friedman 1912-2006)—and that this constitutes the social responsibility of business. The rule to maximize profits is adopted because every other corporation follows it, and in this way the corporate morality takes the shape of Rule Utilitarianism.
But the EGCP course showed us the opposite ethics byImmanuel Kant (1742-1804): to act aside from empiricism, sense, and inclinations (Pure reason); Good Will, to treat humans as an "end" instead of a "means"; and to promote human dignity (Autonomy and Freedom). When duties become the integral part of the company's ability to accomplish its goals, and everybody focuses on responsibility [ex-ante] and not on accountability [ex-post], then no one has to be held accountable because each one is responsible. This method of governance is a process that shall be integrated into daily management.
As an MBA student, most of us are middle management or leaders in the company, as Leavitt describes we are often caught between the two forces of "humanizing" and "systemizing in carrying out our managerial responsibilities. We "behave in authoritarian, hierarchical ways if we are to function effectively, but we must mute that authoritarianism to make life in hierarchies look ... reasonably consistent with society's standards".
This shows the meaning of the EGCP courses, that it call for us to use the experience, skill, and political savvy to be able to balance these conflicting demands, while maintaining personal integrity and effectively managing workers to accomplish organizational objectives, because we have the power to reshape hierarchies to incorporate the human values and motivations that enable employees to thrive. We shall act best to negotiate the way through those authoritarian mazes, while maintaining our personal integrity and even finding satisfaction in our work.
Manchester Business School's global program provides us the opportunity to learn cutting edge business theories, but more importantly, it cultivated our value on ethical foundations in doing business in the real world. When applying the code of ethical practice (CoEP) into an integrated process in the company, it will bring the stakeholders and management to achieve greater value in the modern business world under the philosophy "good ethics=good business". On the other hand, those developed ethical theories will becomeuseful in formulating ways of looking at issues encountered in ethics and social responsibility, and offer advice and guidance on how we should live and conduct our lives and interact with others throughout our lives.