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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 requires each student to take at least one minicourse (1.5 credits) that explores the complex ethical and social challenges of business. 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:

Professor Anant Sundaram

Climate change and its impacts raise momentous concerns. Hundreds of companies worldwide are aggressively getting in front of it, since they are the constituency with the strongest links to climate change: companies are the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions and equally, by deploying R&D, financial resources, technologies, and talent, they are the ones developing and deploying the solutions to address climate change. There is an emerging, multi-trillion dollar ‘climate economy’ that will mitigate and help us adapt to climate change. The main questions we will ask and address in ‘Business and Climate Change’ are: (1) What is climate change, and why should you as an MBA, and the company you work for, care? (2) What does the climate economy mean for your career, your firm, your industry? (3) How do companies measure and manage emissions? (4) What are the tools and frameworks to understand regulatory responses (e.g., a carbon tax or cap-and-trade), and to assess how a company’s business model is exposed to climate change? (5) What do you need to know about the global policy-making process and how it will impact your firm?

This course meets the Ethics & Social Responsibility (ESR) requirement.

Professor Susan M. Hanson

The gap between rich and poor is the subject of growing international attention. As we move forward in the 21st century, the markets at the base of the global income pyramid, where consumers earn about $2.00 a day, have become a meeting place of global corporations and development advocates alike. Today’s business leaders are pulled by the promise of new markets, and pushed by the demands of corporate responsibility. The relationship between profits and poverty alleviation in pursuit of mutual value creation is the focal point of investigation of this mini-course. The marginalized economic situation of very low income customers is often compounded by weak social safety nets and institutional failure, and business leaders may find themselves pursuing market opportunities, which also present responsibility and ethics challenges.

In keeping with the Ethics and Social Responsibility core requirement, this mini-course aims to create an opportunity for students to develop their ethical voice. Background readings on philosophical ethics are a resource in understanding and navigating the value laden debates that frame the challenges that business ventures can face, as they serve very low income markets. Innovating business models to address challenges of access may test traditional assumptions about business-society-government relations, and spark debate over broader questions of risk and corporate responsibility. Case readings for this course are selected to highlight the challenges of socially and politically charged contexts that firms need to navigate, including care delivery, infrastructure service, humanitarian relief, and environmental sustainability.

This course meets the Ethics & Social Responsibility (ESR) requirement.

Professor Curtis R. Welling D'71, T'77

Governments and societies around the world are increasingly focused on intractable social issues: problems of poverty, health, education, the environment and social justice. There is an accelerating demand for sustainability. In this context, expectations for business accountability are rising, and 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 technologies and 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. Business “stakeholders”—communities, employees, governments and “civil society”—are increasingly demanding a role in corporate governance and accountability.

Through a series of readings, cases and speakers, this introductory minicourse is designed to give students an integrated perspective on the unique roles which government and business play in society, the sources of authority for, and limits to, those responsibilities, and the ways in which the traditional roles and organizational models 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.

This course meets the Ethics & Social Responsibility (ESR) requirement.

Professor Paul A. Argenti

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.

This course meets the Ethics and Social Responsibility (ESR) requirement.

Professor Alexander H. Jordan

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? What leads people to discriminate unfairly? How can managers and organizations promote more ethical employee behavior?

These and other questions will be investigated in this discussion-based mini-course. Recent behavioral research has had much to say about the determinants of people’s moral judgments and actions. This course aims to familiarize students with this research and to thus increase their awareness of the psychological dynamics governing everyday morality and immorality. As in more traditional business ethics courses, students will also learn to identify, analyze, and respond thoughtfully to ethical challenges in professional life, and, through dialogue with their classmates, will learn to articulate their own positions coherently and persuasively to diverse audiences. Readings will describe empirical research in addition to business cases.

This course meets the Ethics & Social Responsibility (ESR) requirement.

Professor Aine Donovan

This mini-course will involve students in an exploration of the ethical challenges and opportunities in the business world today. Integrity is the foundation of any successful business, and how that notion is fostered and cultivated will be highlighted throughout the course. Faculty members from diverse disciplines will lead discussions of ethical issues in cases involving their particular areas of expertise.

Ethics does not provide black and white answers to the complex issues of the business world. Rather, it provides a framework for decision-making that will guide business leaders in their professional roles. The questions we will address are controversial. Often, thoughtful people of good will can have strongly held opposing views on the issues. We will have the opportunity to review the positions of representative advocates of one side or the other, but, ultimately, you are expected to engage the issue and form your own opinions. The learning in this course will come from your willingness to internalize the issues and from the effort you put into formulating your own views so that you can express them clearly and convincingly in class discussion.

This course meets the Ethics & Social Responsibility (ESR) requirement.

Impact Investing: Capital for Social Impact (IICSI)
Professor Curt Welling D'71, T'77

The concepts of “impact investing” and “social impact capital” have exploded on the marketplace in recent years. The last decade has seen the dramatic acceleration of attempts to find new ways to harness capital and capitalism in the search for solutions to intractable social problems and concerns about corporate accountability. New organizational paradigms and new investment perspectives have emerged, and the volume of capital seeking social impact has grown exponentially.

A critical component of this dynamic has been the exploration of new approaches to creating, allocating and evaluating investment capital. Whether in new approaches to philanthropy (Venture Philanthropy), corporate philanthropy (Corporate Cause Marketing), venture capital (Social Entrepreneurship), shared-value capital (double bottom line investing), private and public market values-based investing (Impact Investing and public market ESG investing)--virtually every major aggregator of investment capital—Black Rock, Vanguard, Bain Capital, Goldman Sachs, etc) has allocated significant resources to developing investment products or financing approaches which respond to these trends.

Through a series of readings, lectures, and speakers this course will examine the sources, markets, costs, risk and return tradeoffs, and accountability mechanisms in the emerging markets for Social Impact Capital.

This course meets the Ethics & Social Responsibility (ESR) requirement.

Professor Nan Stone

Twenty years ago, few people except social scientists evaluating the results of large-scale development programs used the term “social impact.” Google it now, and in less than one second, you’ll get nearly sixty-four million results – and no clear consensus around how to define it, deliver it, or measure it.

If “social impact” were simply a fad, like the ice-bucket challenge, its present popularity combined with the lack of clarity wouldn’t be much of a problem. But that isn’t the case: social impact is, or should be, at the core of what organizations and individuals who are intent on solving society’s problems and redressing its inequities do. Yet, collectively, we know a great deal more about how to deliver financial returns than we do about how to deliver social impact. Moreover, as compared to measuring profits the challenges inherent in measuring success are many and vexing: for the civil society organizations (nonprofits and NGOs) and hybrid enterprises seeking to catalyze impact; and for the growing number of individual donors, institutional philanthropists, and “impact” investors seeking to support its creation. 

In short, social impact is a topic with at least as many questions as answers, including:

  •  “What constitutes social impact? Who gets to define it? And how can it be measured?”
  • “How are social-purpose organizations and business enterprises alike, and how do they differ?”
  • “What does it mean to talk about ‘impact at scale’?”
  • “What makes an individual or an institution a ‘good’ funder? What are the pitfalls?”
  • “What makes someone a ‘good’ trustee/board member? Why do many boards underperform?”         

MSI will explore these questions through a mix of readings, case studies, and discussions. A recurring theme will be where and how business strategies and frameworks can helpfully be applied or adapted by social-purpose organizations, and where they might have problematic consequences. Visiting experts, who are themselves pioneers in this field, will share their experiences and lessons learned with the class. Lastly, the course will provide an opportunity for students to develop personal answers to the question, “What does social impact mean to me, and how might it affect the choices I make?”

As MBAs, your skills will be in high demand in the social sector. This course will be useful whether you decide to apply them professionally, by working in or with social-purpose organizations, or privately, as a donor, volunteer, and/or board member. It will be particularly relevant if you are currently serving on the board of a social-purpose organization or plan on joining one. 

This course meets the Ethics and Social Responsibility (ESR) requirement

Professor Curt Welling D'71, T'77

Social Entrepreneurship (SESHP) seeks to inform students who are interested in understanding the theoretical and practical elements of Social Entrepreneurship, and in addition equip those who wish to explore the possibility of defining or starting a social enterprise.

Thorough of series of readings, cases, guests and student presentations the course will explore:

  • The history and evolution of social entrepreneurship.
  • The social, political and economic theoretical foundations.
  • The similarities to and distinctions from other models of social impact, and other methods of creating and allocating social impact capital.
  • The unique challenges of creating a social impact business model:

    – Identifying and precisely defining a social problem which is sufficiently generalizable and understood such that a product based solution can be defined.

    – Identifying a product or service which simultaneously generates revenue and produces a solution to the clearly defined social problem.

    – Defining the metrics that will be used to measure and confirm the magnitude of the intended social impact.

    – Defining the value proposition for investors in this multi-objective model. This involves clearly defining the expected financial return as well as the “social impact” return on investment.

    – Identifying the sources of capital that is required to launch the venture and to sustain it through proof of concept, commercialization and profitability.
  • Various approaches to entrepreneurship will be explored which might be utilized to define and start such a social venture. In particular, the course will use the Social Lean Canvas methodology as a way of engaging students in the concrete evolution of a social venture from problem definition to business model.