Ethics and Social Responsibility Requirement

Effective leaders must understand how the success of their organizations is intertwined with broader ethical and social issues. And they must recognize that sustainable economic growth is not possible without considering the needs and demands of broader society.

Tuck's strategy is to provide practical business skills that will help you identify and act on the ethical and social dimensions of business issues, make reasoned decisions when faced with a dilemma, and justify your actions to stakeholders and the public within a social context.

To prepare students for success as principled leaders, Tuck requires each student to take at least one minicourse (1.5 credits) that explores the complex ethical and social challenges of business. To satisfy this requirement a course must give students the ability to recognize the ethical and social dimensions of business problems, the tools, concepts and frameworks to make practical, reasoned decisions when faced with ethical or social dilemmas, and the ability to justify those decisions in language that is both clear and persuasive. Students may also work on independent study projects, including international projects with NGOs in countries as diverse as Bolivia, Tanzania, and the U.K.

Electives that satisfy the requirement include, but aren't limited to, these courses:

Business and Society (BAS)

Governments and societies around the world are increasingly focused on problems of poverty, the environment, and social justice. There is an accelerating demand for sustainability. In this context, the social contract between business and government is under scrutiny and in some cases under attack in markets and countries around the world. At the same time, new models of collaboration between business, government, and civil society are emerging. And new perspectives about investing and raising “social purpose capital” are being tested. Through a series of readings, cases, and speakers, this introductory minicourse is designed to give students an integrated perspective on the unique roles that government and business play in society, the sources of authority for, and limits to, those responsibilities, and the ways in which the traditional roles are being questioned and changed. The course will also explore the role that capital markets play in this context: sustainability is impossible without mobilizing capital. The course will examine markets from a number of perspectives: as facilitator of social policy, as allocator of capital and instrument of organizational accountability, as manifestations of social priorities, and as mechanisms for reflecting moral and ethical priorities. Finally, the course will examine the rising tide of “social purpose investing” from “impact investing” to “social entrepreneurship.”

Ethics in Action

Ethics in Action is a minicourse in which students consider the ethical challenges that arise across the spectrum of business activity. Several faculty members from diverse disciplines lead discussions of ethical issues in cases involving their particular areas of expertise. Topics deal with specific ethical issues faced by businesses in the current environment both in the US and in the global marketplace, where different local practices and cultural norms seem to muddy the ethical water. The purpose of the course is to acquire some practical business skills: the ability to identify the ethical dimensions of business problems, the ability to make practical, reasoned decisions when faced with ethical dilemmas, and the ability to justify those decisions in language that is both clear and persuasive.

Business Strategies for Sustainability

Companies now face challenges and opportunities created by concerns about their environmental and social impact. General managers need to understand the factors that drive business value when dealing with these concerns. This course evaluates how firms are responding to these challenges. It also explored how firms are strategically influencing the regulatory and competitive context in which they operate. The course considered examples related to climate, natural resources (renewable and non renewable), and human health.

Social Marketing

This course is designed to promote the use of social marketing in for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations. Social marketing is the application of commercial marketing frameworks and techniques to promote individual and collective well-being. This course is offered in the spirit of taking responsibility for ourselves as well as caring for those around us. As such it includes but goes beyond nonprofit marketing, where the main aim is to utilize the organization’s services, public sector marketing, where the main goal maybe to increase use of services such as public transportation, and cause marketing designed to focus efforts on awareness for social issues such as global warming. Social marketing expertise is integral in for-profit businesses, for managers who hold positions in corporate social responsibility, corporate philanthropy, marketing, or community relations. Nonprofit and foundation business managers and board members should, but do not always have the expertise to use social marketing to achieve their mission. It is in our best interest that these programs succeed from the point of view of professional managers who work in non-profit organizations as well as recipients of programs on better nutrition, environment protection, and literacy among others. Finally, social marketing knowledge can be used by general and marketing management consultants who offer services to for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations who are engaged in social marketing campaigns such as advertising agencies, public relation firms, and marketing research firms.

Business-Social Sector Partnerships

This course investigates program- and project-driven collaboration between for-profit business and non-profit organizations, and the potential for win-win outcomes. We explore value creation at the intersection of business and the social sector, and how capacities, constraints, and strategies might differ from business managers to their non-profit counterparts. We use a number of frameworks for analyzing cross-sector collaboration, in order to identify the range of challenges that confront business and non-profit partners over the life-cycle of a partnership. Throughout, we embrace the larger question of how differences among partners may or may not drive learning and transformation of the partners themselves, and how to approach this analysis. The course is motivated by current debates regarding the role of firms in society. It takes a global perspective on corporate responsibility and stakeholder management, paying particular attention to the challenges that firms face in managing collaboration with social sector actors across boundaries of both markets and cultures. The cases and readings selected aim to develop an appreciation of innovative partnership models and how they link firm, society, and public interests. Readings and class discussion seek to develop an appreciation of the range of viewpoints that might be expressed by different actors – from the business manager, to the non-profit manager, the social entrepreneur, and the public sector actor. Overall, the course seeks to develop a better understanding of the risks and challenges that are characteristic of cross-sector collaboration, especially as partnerships reach globally.

Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector

There has been a worldwide explosion of entrepreneurial activities by organizations whose primary focus is on improving the health, education, and well being of individuals and communities. Most of this activity has been undertaken by nonprofit organizations, which, in the U. S., generate revenues greater than the gross domestic products of Brazil, Russia, or Australia. Some entrepreneurs working in the social sector chose to incorporate as for-profit organizations. Both models will be considered in this course though the vast majority of cases will be about nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity and City Year. This course will focus on the tools and skills required to launch or grow a successful enterprise in the organizations rely on an entrepreneurial style of management. During this course students will meet outstanding social entrepreneurs who have succeeded in creating sustainable enterprises that combat important social problems.

Business and Climate Change

Dealing with the likely impacts of climate change has become one of the momentous societal and economic concerns of our time. Forward-thinking companies worldwide are aggressively addressing it, since they are the constituency with the largest cause/effect relationship to climate change. Through their resource use and emissions, companies are a cause; the effect of mitigating and adapting to it will be a source of costs (for some) and benefits (for others). Looking ahead, sizeable public and private resources, perhaps trillions of dollars, will be devoted to addressing climate change. The focus of this minicourse is to examine the links between climate change and the firm as viewed through an economics/finance/public policy lens.

Corporate Responsibility

This minicourse starts with the premise that corporate social responsibility is good for business and focuses on how leaders can balance the needs of their organizations with responsibilities to key constituencies. Through cases focusing on the social, reputational, and environmental consequences of corporate activities, students will learn how to make difficult choices, promote responsible behavior within their organizations, and understand the role personal values play in developing effective leadership skills.

Ethical Decision-Making (EDM)

Are ethical judgments influenced more by emotion or by reason? Is ethical behavior a product more of the environment or of the individual? How does acquiring power affect people’s moral choices? Why do people resent whistleblowers who uncover wrongdoing in organizations? What leads people to discriminate unfairly? Do integrity tests for employee screening work? Would including an ethical oath in the MBA curriculum increase moral behavior among tomorrow’s business leaders? These and other questions will be investigated in this discussion-based minicourse. Recent behavioral research has had much to say about the determinants of people’s moral judgments and actions. A primary goal of this course is to familiarize students with this research and to thus increase their awareness of the psychological dynamics governing everyday morality and immorality. Students will learn to identify, analyze, and respond thoughtfully to ethical challenges in professional life, and, through dialogue with their classmates, will learn to recognize moral differences and articulate their own positions coherently and persuasively. Readings will include empirical research in addition to traditional business cases.

Business & Ethics at the Base of the Pyramid (BOP)

The condition of the world’s ‘poor’ is the subject of growing international attention. As we move into the 21st century, the markets at the base of the global income pyramid (BOP), where consumers earn about $2.00 a day, have become a meeting place of global corporations and development advocates alike. Pulled by the promise of new markets, and pushed by the demands of corporate responsibility, business leaders are today grappling with unforeseen opportunities, challenges, and dilemmas that come with the territory of working in BOP markets. The relationship between profits and poverty alleviation in pursuit of mutual value creation is the focal point of investigation of this course. In keeping with the aims of the Social and Ethics Responsibility core requirement, this course aims to create an opportunity for students to discuss and weigh the opportunities, challenges and dilemmas that come with the territory of working in very low income markets, including the challenges that come with institutional failure. How such business models take shape may test traditional assumptions that MBA students make about how society intersects with markets, and raise questions not only of business aims, but also broader questions of risk and responsibility. Through case-based discussion, we will explore how market-based ventures seek to overcome challenges in a broad range of working contexts, from health care delivery, to infrastructure services, humanitarian and disaster relief, social safety nets, and environmental conservation.