Taught by

Kay McLennan, Ph.D.


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Syllabus: Business Ethics (BSMT-3380-10)

business ethics syllabus picture

Instructor & Course Information

Instructor:  Kay L. McLennan, Ph.D., Professor of Practice, Business Studies
e-Mail & Voice Mail:  kmclenna@tulane.edu & 504.862.8000 x1360
Office Hours:  Wednesdays (by appointment at the SCS Elmwood Campus)
Course:   The online version of the Business Ethics course is a highly participative asynchronous Internet-based course.  The course site – with all of the course materials and discussion forums -- is accessed by logging into the myTulane Blackboard platform (at http://mytulane.blackboard.com)

Required Textbook & Other Course Materials

Please keep in mind that it is your responsibility to procure a copy of the assigned textbook before the
first day of classes.

More specifically, the required textbook (and other required reading) includes:

  1. Ferrell, O.C., Fraedrich, John, and Ferrell, Linda  (2010).  Business Ethics, Ethical Decision Making & Cases, 8th Edition.  Boston, MA: Prentice Hall.  ISBN:  978-1-4390-4223-6
  2. Course site lectures and articles (see the “e-Lectures & Assignments” course site page for reading assignments and the “In the News” course site page to find the [optional] news-related articles).
  3. Movie clips for selected case studies (see “e-Lectures & Assignments" course site page).


Course Topic Outline & Assignments

Module One:  Introduction to the Study of Ethics

Textbook Reading Assignment:

Ferrell, etc. – Chapters 1 and 2

  • The Importance of Business Ethics (starting on page 2)
  • Stakeholder Relationships, Social Responsibility, and Corporate Governance (starting on page 28)

Textbook Cases:

  • “Wal-Mart:  The Challenge of Managing Relationships with Stakeholders” (starting on page 292)
  • “The Fall of Enron:  A Stakeholder Failure” (starting on page 318)
  • “PETCO Develops Successful Stakeholder Relationships” (starting on page 422)

Video Clip Cases (see link to video clips in our Blackboard course site):

  • “Making the Numbers”
  • “The New Belgium Brewery Story”
  • “CharityAmerica.com”

Work Due:

  • Post essays (with the essay questions located in the “Assignments & Lectures” icon); and
  • Post discussion threads (on your group discussion board) due on three (3) different days.

Module Two:  Issues & Institutionalism

Textbook Reading Assignment:

Ferrell, etc. – Chapters 3 and 4

  • Emerging Business Ethics Issues (starting on page 56)
  • The Institutionalization of Business Ethics (starting on page 88)

Textbook Cases:

  • “The Coca-Cola Company Struggles with Ethical Crises” (starting on page 308)
  • “Martha Stewart:  A Brand in Crisis” (starting on page 343)
  • “Arthur Andersen:  Questionable Accounting Practices” (starting on page 359)
  • “Sunbeam Corporation:  ‘Chainsaw Al’ and Greed” (starting on page 369)
  • “Microsoft: Antitrust Battles” (starting on page 398)
  • “Starbucks’ Mission:  Responsibility and Growth” (starting on page 441)
  • “Home Depot Implements Stakeholder Orientation” (starting on page 448)

Video Clip Cases (see link to video clips in our Blackboard course site):

  • “The Stonyfield Story”
  • “Recycling Pays at Kodak”
  • “Home Depot’s Social Responsibility Agenda”
  • “Social Responsibility at Starbucks”

Work Due:

  • Post essays (with the essay questions located in the “Assignments & Lectures” icon);
  • Post discussion threads (on your group discussion board) due on three (3) different days; and
  • Take the online midterm exam.

Module Three:  The Decision-Making Process

Textbook Reading Assignment:

Ferrell, etc. – Chapters 5, 6, and 7

  • Ethical Decision-Making and Ethical Leadership (starting on page 120)
  • Individual Factors:  Moral Philosophies (starting on page 144)
  • Organizational Factors:  The Role of Ethical Culture and Relationships (starting on page 172)

Textbook Cases:

  • “Tyco International:  Leadership Crisis” (starting on page 333)
  • “Verizon:  The Legacy of WorldCom and MCI” (starting on page 351)
  • “Firestone:  A Reputation Blowout” (starting on page 389)
  • “The Healthcare Company:  Learning from Past Mistakes?” (starting on page 415)

Video Clip Cases:

  • “HM Reality Series:  Managing Equality in the Workplace”
  • “Diversity at the New England Aquarium”
  • “Alex and Melinda”

Work Due:

  • Post essays (with the essay questions located in the “Assignments & Lectures” icon); and
  • Post discussion threads (on your group discussion board) due on three (3) different days.

Module Four:  Implementing Business Ethics in a Global Economy

Textbook Reading Assignment:

Ferrell, etc. – Chapters 8, 9, and 10

  • Developing an Effective Ethics Program (starting on page 204)
  • Implementing and Auditing an Ethics Program (starting on page 230)
  • Business Ethics in a Global Economy (starting on page 260)

Textbook Cases:

  • “Global Crossing:  Inflated Sales Lead to Bankruptcy” (starting on page 380)
  • “Nike:  From Sweatshops to Leadership in Employment Practices (starting on page 409)
  • “Texas Instruments Creates a Model Ethics and Compliance Program (starting on page 431)
  • “New Belgium Brewing:  Ethical and Environmental Responsibility” (starting on page 455)

Video Clip Cases:

  • “OXFAM:  Managing Social Responsibility Globally with OXFAM International”
  • “Vail Resorts, Inc.”
  • “The Ethics of Outsourcing”
  • “Ethics and Success in Business”

Work Due:

  • Post essays (with the essay questions located in the “Assignments & Lectures” icon);
  • Post discussion threads (on your group discussion board) due on three (3) different days; and
  • Take the online final.
Learning Outcomes & Cognitive Development Objectives

After completing the requirements of this course, students should be able to:

  • Understand the techniques of moral reasoning and argumentation that are needed to analyze moral issues in business;
  • Analyze the presuppositions of business—both moral presuppositions and the presuppositions from a moral point of view;
  • Evaluate the individual actions in economic and business transactions within a variety of moral frameworks;
  • Apply general ethical principles to particular cases or practices in business;
  • Critically evaluate the morality of the American free-enterprise system;
  • Critically evaluate the comparative morality of various different types of economic systems;
  • Describe morally praiseworthy and exemplary actions of either individuals in business or particular firms;
  • Describe morally reprehensible actions of either individuals in business or particular firms;
  • Understand the current and pressing moral issues in business from workers’ rights to legitimate computer usage on the job; and
  • Discuss the ethical issues inherent in the rapid changes in business, including information technology and environmental degradation. 

In terms of the cognitive learning objectives to be attained for each topic area studied (see “Course Topic Outline” below), students will:

  • Gather knowledge (or facts or theories) about each topic area from the readings, instructor lecture notes, and e-discussions with classmates and the instructor;
  • Demonstrate comprehension [or seeing relationships, concepts, principles, and abstractions beyond simply remembering material (read:  translating, interpreting and estimating future trends)] through essay answers, e-discussions with classmates and instructor, and the final exam; and
  • Understand the application (or the ability to use learned material in new and concrete situations, including the application of rules, methods, concepts, principles, laws and theories) to specific issues and challenges in business ethics.   
Required Student Participation

Learning is best accomplished when students are provided with experiential opportunities.  Accordingly, class members are expected to log into the class site at least three times a week (please note that the Blackboard software keeps track of when you enter the class site) as well as post assigned essays, contribute substantive comments during all four of the module discussion periods, and take the final exam within the specified time frames.  As a general rule of thumb, students are expected to respond to a combination of the comments on their work and the essay postings of the other students in their group (given a required minimum number of threads – typically equal to a minimum of 15 threads -- per
module).  In addition, during each discussion period, students must spread out their comments -- via their 5 [minimum of 15] thread contributions -- on three different days.  For example, contributing 5 threads on one day during the discussion period, 6 threads on another day during the discussion period, and 4 threads on  another day during the discussion period will satisfy the minimum discussion component requirement.  Note:  The minimum level of discussion component contributions is just that -- a minimum.  Please feel free to contribute to the discussion component beyond the minimum level required. 

No discussion threads posted after the discussion period ends will count towards your discussion component score.


The final grade in the course will be made up of grades on essay submissions, group discussions,
and the midterm and final exams.  The calculation of your final grade has the following components:  
essay submissions = 30 percent of the final grade; group discussion participation = 30 percent of the final
grade; the midterm exam = 20 percent of the final grade; and the final exam (that will only cover the 2nd half of the course) = 20 percent of the final grade.

With a potential of earning a total of 1,000 points in the course, the following point ranges (and accompanying grades) will be used.

Point Range
























599 & below



Further, the following grading component criteria will be used.

  • The essays assigned during each of the four modules are worth 18.75 points each (and taken together,     the essay assignments in the course total 300 points).  The specific grading subcomponents for each essay include: 1) demonstrating a mastery of the subject material; 2) meeting the assigned deadline (20 percent of the points are deducted for late work); and 3) crafting a well-written, grammatically correct composition that adheres to the length guidelines -- including the guidelines to repeat the question at
    the start of each essay reply and provide a reference list at the end of each essayNote: While it is understood that almost every class member is already involved in a demand career, it is the responsibility of each class member to arrange their schedule to meet the published deadlines in the course.  Also, business commitments (including travel) will not excuse late work.  If you have a demanding job or travel commitments, it will be your responsibility to work ahead in
    the course so that you will be able to meet the deadlines specified.

  • Participation in group discussions (in your individual groups) during the four different discussion periods will account for 300 points of the 1,000 points in the course.  In other words, the discussion component is worth as much as the essay component and the discussion component makes up such a large share of the total points in the course that it is not possible to earn a good grade (or earn more than a C- in the course) if you do not fully participate in the discussion component.  Further, your discussion participation will be graded on the following factors. 
    1. Providing [a minimum number of] substantive comments -- equal to 15 threads for each module -- that include relevant personal or real world examples to back up claims and assertions; and
    2. Post comments on THREE (3) different days during each of the four discussion periods.

      Note:  Responding to the substantive comments class members make on your essays -- provided your comments back are substantive -- will count towards the minimum of 15 threads.

      Again, you must post comments on three different days during the discussion period.

  • The midterm exam will be worth 200 points and the final exam (only covering the second half of the course) will be worth 200 points. For each assessment, students will take a timed (randomly generated) online test on the major concepts in the course. 


Make-Up Work Policies

Given the asynchronous nature of this course, the expectation is that students will be able to meet all deadlines for completing reading assignments, posting essay submissions and discussing group members’ submissions.  Tardy postings will compromise the quality of group discussions and accordingly are unacceptable.  In turn, only extraordinary or emergency circumstances will merit consideration for a deadline extension and will have to be evaluated by the instructor on a case-by-case basis.  Also, please e-mail the instructor as soon as possible to explain any anticipated or missed deadlines.

Honor Code

All academic assignments in this course are conducted under the provisions of the Tulane University Honor Code.  In particular, while students will collaborate during group discussions of the material and their work, when it comes to assembling their initial essay responses and taking module exams, students are expected to work independently.  The complete Honor Code is available online at: http://college.tulane.edu/code.htm. Also, all Honor Code Board meetings will take place in New Orleans.  In turn, if a student wishes to appear before the Honor Board (to counter an allegation of a violation of the Honor Code), the student must keep in mind that they will need to do so in New Orleans.  Further, if a student waives the right to appear in person before the Honor Board (in New Orleans), written statements will be accepted.

Student Disability Accommodations

Any student with a disability in need of course or examination accommodations should request accommodations through the University’s Office of Disability Services located in the Mechanical Engineering Building.  Please do this as soon as possible.  In turn, please let me know you are eligible for accommodation (through an e-mail correspondence) and provide a copy of your approved accommodation form from ODS to me (as well as to each professor in whose course you wish to receive accommodations).  I am committed to working with the Office of Disability Services to ensure that all approved accommodations are provided.  However, if you do not deliver the approved accommodation form, I will not know you have been approved to receive accommodations and will have no basis for providing those accommodations.