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Professor Dr. Nigel Roome

Is it wrong to teach what is right and wrong? Is it part of a university’s job to teach its students moral standards and social responsibilities? Sixth Ethical Forum of the University Foundation 29, Nov 2007. Professor Dr. Nigel Roome

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Professor Dr. Nigel Roome

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  1. Is it wrong to teach what is right and wrong?Is it part of a university’s job to teach its students moral standards and social responsibilities?Sixth Ethical Forum of the University Foundation 29, Nov 2007 Professor Dr. Nigel Roome Daniel Janssen Chair of Corporate Social Responsibility, Solvay Business School, ULB

  2. Background As a professor of corporate responsibility it would be a denial of my own professional existence if I claimed that I did not teach students about the area of social responsibilities. For me the key question is not whether this should be taught but how should it be taught Among other things I set out to teach: • how companies and managers go about managing (social) responsibilities • how academics understand the ways managers and companies go about managing (social) responsibilities • The skills and competencies that underpin the management of (social) responsibilities However, I hope those in the audience will recognise that I am not an ethicist or moral philsopher only a business professor nigel roome (c)

  3. Contention It is a duty of managers in companies: • to consider the effects that their choices and actions have in terms of changes in the social, environmental and economic fabric of the societies in which they operate • to take responsibility for the effects of those choices and actions by being clear and accountable for the choices they make In my view this approach characterises the intrinsic values and thinking that is the basis for my teaching in corporate responsibility I leave it to you to judge whether - in seeking to examine these duties and their implications - I am teaching ‘right or wrong’ nigel roome (c)

  4. Corporate Responsibility – a perspective • Corporate responsibility is that set of actions that define an enterprise’s contribution to the societal projects we call ‘sustainable development’ and/or ‘social cohesion’ • Corporate responsibility is therefore ‘thick’ with ethical issues and values systems. Among others it potentially embraces: • Utilitarianism – Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill • Deep ecology - Arne Naas • Stewardship – Aldo Leopold • Fairness and justice – John Rawls nigel roome (c)

  5. Deontology or Teleology – a bridge in CR In my view corporate responsibility connects the clashing views of deontological and teleological ethics • CSR of the kind I suggest brings together the deontological view of ethics as duties, and, ethics in consequential terms arising from actions (teleology – as in the idea that the ends justify the means). It also suggests that managers might seek to surface the ethics and values systems that operate in and around their choices • In my work I also take the view that it is a duty of a responsible manager to accept the need to address and assess the consequences of their actions and choices and to lay them open to scrutiny nigel roome (c)

  6. Purpose Creating wealth by providing products/service that customers want and value Existence Maintaining relationships with others in economy and society so that the enterprise can continue with its purpose Activities Combining human ingenuity, knowledge and materials Internal - efficiency, effectiveness, ingenuity and innovation External – what you do and what you are CSR in the framework of enterprise CSR is not about the purpose of enterprise but about the existence of an enterprise, where existence is a function of the ‘properties’ of the relationship between an enterprise’s activities and other actors and things nigel roome (c)

  7. Key properties of relationships • Relationships are the foundation of ‘systems’ as webs of relationship • Relationships are often in flux or subject to change at either end. The decisions taken by managers have effects on others. Indeed, if there were no effects there would only be empty relationships • Relationships are defined in part by the context within which any relationship operates • Relationships (between actors) carry attributes – trust, disclosure, honesty, truthfulness etc • All relationships are surrounded by ethical systems, values and perceptions nigel roome (c)

  8. Implications for management education In my work as a teacher I seek to foster in my students a: • Systems view of the company - relationship represent a way of ‘seeing’ and a way of ‘thinking about’ companies • Sensitivity to context (temporal and spatial) • Awareness of change • Clarity around attributes – trust, disclosure etc • Concern to surface the values, ethical systems and perceptions held by actors in a relationship • As ethical systems and values differ so to surface them can lead to reflection on both one’s own values and the values of others In general these ideas run counter to much of what is currently taught to managers of the future nigel roome (c)

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