Our world faces new challenges
in the 21st century. In an increasingly interdependent economy, business
decisions will affect us all. Those decisions that are based on sound
ethical judgment will have the most favorable and beneficial results.
Business ethics education empowers students with information and skills
that will lead to better communication and more ethical decision-making
worldwide. As members of a profession that knows no geographical borders,
English language teachers worldwide are in a key role to help improve
communication and understanding about ethics in business.
If we are to plan for the
future and our children’s future, we must try to solve problems of equality,
environment, and consumerism. Teachers have a professional obligation
to build social responsibility and ethical behaviors in students. English
language teachers can and should provide students with opportunities
to build social responsibility and ethical behaviors. The materials
in this Volume of the English Teaching Forum's on-line journal
on Language and Civil Society will help English language teachers in
their efforts to do that.
International Issues in Business
are inseparable from and systematically connected with business decision-making.
Ethical concepts can and should inform international economic activity.
According to Donaldson (1989),
societies can and do have the right to expect business to function ethically
because society engages in a contractual agreement with business to
carry out the necessary work to provide goods and services to that society:
"All productive organizations can be viewed as engaging in an implied
contract with society. ..... Corporations, as all productive organizations,
must have bestowed upon them by society.... authority to own and use
land and natural resources. In return, society has the right to expect
that productive organizations will enhance the general interests of
consumers and employees. Society may also expect that corporations honor
existing rights and limit their activities to accord with the bounds
So, under this ‘social
contract’ between society and business, what rules guide the behavior
of business agents? What are the minimal duties of global business professionals?
Should an international code of business ethics be adopted? If so, what
should such a code contain?
Some business practices
traverse national and cultural boundaries. Others do not. When crossing
national borders, it is necessary to be sure of what the rules are that
govern ethical practice and behavior. In most cases, those rules are
infrequently discussed and sometimes not explicitly known. The tasks
carried out in the chapters in this volume will allow teachers and students
opportunities to begin to identify those rules. Civil societies are
maintained and developed in contexts where citizens discuss such issues.
For these reasons, the materials contained in the ten chapters that
follow this Introduction will be of high interest and value in helping
students build English language skills to discuss and write about business
ethics for use in contexts relevant and meaningful to them. In this
volume, we will begin with a primary emphasis on business ethics as
it relates to human rights, fairness, and justice.
Design of Lessons:
Each lesson is designed with a presentation of information, followed
by language practice and tasks, and finally, assessment.
Language Knowledge and Skills:
The goal and objective of all lessons is the development of knowledge
about language and the abilities to use language skills with significant
and important content, especially business ethics. Teachers need not
be experts in business ethics to use these materials. The background
information (Teacher Resources) will be of help to teachers who seek
to be better acquainted with details of the issues discussed in each
Keeping an Open Mind: In all matters
ethical, students and teachers alike will be required to be open to
the various ideas that the materials and exercises present and those
offered in class by fellow classmates and even others (individuals
interviewed, information obtained on-line and in readings). The more
diverse the ideas, the better. The more energetic the discussion,
the better. The goal is to build and maintain student and teacher
investment and motivation in addressing these complex and fascinating
issues. The English language skills that students learn in a context
of investment and motivation are geometrical in terms of increased
proficiency when compared with language acquisition that occurs in
less energetic settings.
I hope this volume on Ethics is interesting
and inspiring to your students.