Ethical Business Behavior

Course Description

Ethical Business Behavior explores ethical issues that arise in business situations and provides a decision-making framework to help resolve these issues. Students apply ethical theories to evaluate business ethics topics while assessing the complex ways in which individuals, companies and society are influenced by misconduct in a business setting. Placed in decision-making roles throughout the course, students assess case studies and join in discussions to evaluate issues and make assessments. A role play allows students to negotiate from different ethical views, which builds persuasiveness skills when presenting ethical recommendations. Delving into ethical issues shows that causes and outcomes are often not straightforward and require looking from multiple perspectives.

We will evaluate business situations involving financial scandals, harm from poor product safety, deception in advertising, racial and sexual harassment, whistle-blowing, dangerous work environments and international ethics. Students select a business ethics issue of their choice to evaluate in a research analysis. Ethical decisions in the workplace are among the most significant that employees must make and can have tremendous influence on the individuals and the corporations involved.

Course Learning Goals

After completing this course, you will be able to:

Course Competencies

In this course, you will develop the following competencies:


Competence Statement and Criteria


Can analyze a problem using at least two different ethical systems.


Can demonstrate an understanding of how individuals interact with organizations in making ethical business decisions.


Can apply ethical theories to assess and make recommendations regarding ethical business behavior.

Students may contact the instructor to discuss development of a customized FX statement, though this is not necessary.

Course Resources

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Required Reading:

Boatright, J. R. (2016). Ethics and the Conduct of Business Eighth Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Course Grading Scale

A = 95 to 100

A- = 91 to 94

B+ = 88 to 90

B = 85 to 87

B- = 81 to 84

C+ = 77 to 80

C = 73 to 76

C- = 69 to 72

D+ = 65 to 68

D = 61 to 64

F = 60 or below


Please note: Grades lower than a C- do not earn credit or competence in the School for New Learning.

Course Structure

This course will explore ethical business behavior and various theories for evaluating ethical issues using one collaborative learning exercise (role-playing and report development), multiple case analyses, evaluation of various advertisements, discussions identifying real-world applications of issues, and internet resources.

The course consists of 11 modules, which include multiple units. Assignments and readings will be provided for each module. Ideas will also be exchanged with other students in structured discussions. Assignment deadlines will be based on estimated time for completion of each subject area.

Week,  Module # and Title



Week 1, Module 1:

Ethical Thinking














Read Chapter 1 p. 1-18 in textbook

Read Everyday Ethics and What is Ethics?

1.1 Introductions Discussion

1.2 Moral Issues in the Workplace Discussion

Week 2, Module 2:

Cases in Ethics






Read Textbook:

Chapter 2: pp. 23-28, 37-42

Chapter 13: pp 310-316

Read Module 2 additional resources

2.1 WorldCom Case

2.2 Enron Scandal Discussion

2.3 Scandals with Similarities to Enron Discussion

Week 3, Module 3:

Ethical Principles









Read Chapter 3: pages 51-63

Read "Ethical Relativism"

3.1 Role-Play Discussion

3.2 Information Disclosure Discussion

Week 4, Module 4:

Applying Theories









4.1 Research Case Analysis Topic

4.2 Applying Theories to Medical Ethics Discussion

4.3 Applying Theories-Food and Fat Content Discussion

Week 5, Module 5:

Ethics of Marketing








Read Chapter 10 pages 216-233 in textbook

Read Module 5, additional resources

Read "Ethics of Care"

5.1 Truth in Advertising Case Study Report

5.2 "Deceptive Advertising or Puffery" Discussion

5.3 "Test Market Sabotage" Discussion

Week 6, Module 6:






Read Chapter 10 Product Liability section pp. 233-241 in textbook

Supplemental Reading: Wyeth Cordarone Case

Read Module 6, additional resources

6.1 Wyeth Cordarone Case Study Analysis

6.2 Research Case Analysis Reference List

6.3 Product Safety Discussion

6.4 Resolving Differences Discussion

Week 7, Module 7:

Whistleblowing & Regulations




Read Chapter 4 in textbook

Read Chapter 5 in textbook

Read Sarbanes Oxley and Whistleblowing Protection Acts

7.1 Aggressive Ad Agency Case Analysis

7.2 A Whistle-Blower Accepts a "Deal" Discussion

7.3 Sarbanes-Oxley Act Discussion

Week 8, Module 8:





Read Chapter 7 in textbook


8.1 Research Case Analysis First Draft or Background Summary

8.2 Group Case Analysis

8.3 Sexual Harassment Discussion

Week 9, Module 9:

Employee Safety



Read Chapter 9 Occupational Health and Safety in textbook

9.1 Learning Reflection

9.2 Research Case Analysis First Draft or Background Summary

9.3 Accident/Crime Group Case Discussion

Week 10, Module 10:

International Business Ethics



Read Chapter 14 in textbook

10.1 Research Case Analysis

10.2 International Business Ethics Discussion

Week 11, Module 11: Future Perspectives



11.1 Personal Credo

11.2 Summary Perspective Discussion


To see course due dates, click on the Checklist link on the top navigation bar.  This page contains module-specific checklists and due dates for the work due in the course.

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Assessment of Learning

Student learning will be assessed based on participation in discussion forums, a research report, case/scenario analyses, one collaborative role-play, a summary perspective statement and personal credo statement.

Ethical Business Behavior is a graded course. Your final grade will be based on performance and completion of the assignments described below. Weighting for each assignment is provided below.

The learning outcomes for each module will be used to assess achievement of the competencies that you are fulfilling.

Evaluation Weighting

CategoryPercent of Grade# of Deliverables
Research Case Analysis 20% 1
Participation in Discussions 17% Throughout the course
Case Studies 58% (4x14%, 1x2%) 5
Collaborative Role Play 3% 1
Personal Credo Statement 1% 1
Learning Reflection 1% 1

Research Case Analysis Guidelines

Everyone in the class will submit one paper that applies two ethical theories to a business ethics issue of their choice. Please navigate to the "Research Case Analysis" content area in the course menu to read the guidelines and assessment criteria for the analysis.

Grading Policies and Practices

To complete the course, you must complete each of the assignments as described in the course and submit them to your instructor by the assigned deadline.  In addition, you must participate in the course discussion forum by responding to all instructor requests and by interacting with fellow classmates as necessary.

Points are deducted for late work.

General Assessment Criteria for All Writing Assignments

All writing assignments are expected to conform to basic college-level standards of mechanics and presentation.

Consider visiting the Writing Center to discuss your assignments for this course or any others. You may schedule appointments (30 or 50 minutes) on an as–needed or weekly basis, scheduling up to 3 hours worth of appointments per week. Online services include Feedback–by–Email and IM conferencing (with or without a webcam). All writing center services are free.

Writing Center tutors are specially selected and trained graduate and undergraduate students who can help you at almost any stage of your writing. They will not do your work for you, but they can help you focus and develop your ideas, review your drafts, and polish your writing. They can answer questions about grammar, mechanics, different kinds of writing styles, and documentation formats. They also can answer questions and provide feedback online, through IM/webcam chats and email.

Obviously, the tutors won’t necessarily be familiar with every class or subject, but they are able to provide valuable help from the perspective of an interested and careful reader as well as a serious and experienced student-writer.

Schedule your appointments with enough time to think about and use the feedback you’ll receive. To schedule a Face-to-Face, Written Feedback by Email, or Online Appointment, visit

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Discussion Forums

Discussion Forums are an important component of your online experience. This course contains discussion forums related to the topics you are studying each week. For requirements on your participation in the Discussion Forums, please see "Course Expectations" in the syllabus.

A Course Q & A discussion forum has also been established to manage necessary, ongoing social and administrative activities. This is where the management and administrative tasks of the course are conducted, and where you can ask 'process' questions and receive answers throughout the course. Please feel free to answer any question if you feel you know the answer; this sharing of information is valuable to other students.

Online Participation Guidelines

Each student is expected to make at minimum one contribution per discussion in the forum. To maximize your participation grade, address each question in each topic in an insightful manner that builds on the input of others. Your responses to both instructor questions and to other students’ comments will enhance the learning experience for all students.

Your contributions to discussions should include a supporting statement(s). Draw from your text readings, magazines, work or any personal experiences, etc. to explain why you agree/disagree with another student or why you have the perspective that you have.

Text does not carry the tone and nuances of face-to-face conversations. Students read messages through their own perceptions, so misinterpretation is both easy and common. Congenial interaction in online conversations facilitates the learning process. Extra attention is needed in online dialogue for these reasons.

These discussions are a place for you to exchange ideas with the others in the class related to specific topics on a weekly basis.

A Q& A discussion forum will be available for you to ask questions about the course. In this way, everyone can benefit from the questions that you have. Contact the instructor by email with any concerns about course performance, personal reasons for late assignments, advising issues or with any matters that should be private from other students.

In on-line courses, the student is an interactive learner with the instructor providing guidance and mentoring.

Electronic Submissions and Communications

Work must be submitted in the Dropbox area of D2L. Microsoft Word is the supported word processing software. Word revision tools will be used to correct student work. E-mail communications with the instructor are the preferred and primary format. Graded work will not be faxed to students. Students can check grades via the Grades feature in D2L.

Course Policies

College and University Policies

This course includes and adheres to the college and university policies described in the links below:

Academic Integrity Policy (UGRAD)

Academic Integrity Policy (GRAD)

Incomplete Policy

Course Withdrawal Timelines and Grade/Fee Consequences

Accommodations Based on the Impact of a Disability

Protection of Human Research Participants

APA citation format (GRAD)

Additional Course Resources

University Center for Writing-based Learning

SNL Writing Guide

Dean of Students Office

Changes to Syllabus

This syllabus is subject to change as necessary. If a change occurs, it will be clearly communicated to students.


This course was designed and produced by Ms. Halina Cowin and staff at SNL Online of the School for New Learning of DePaul University.

© 2010 School for New Learning, DePaul University. All Rights Reserved by SNL during contractual interval with the author.