WHU | Logo

Ethics: Behavioral Ethics

The focus of this course is the study of ethics in a business context. It combines ethical philosophy with empirical and case studies to understand (un)ethical behavior in a business context and apply and evaluate ethical arguments to dilemma situations.
Course code
Course type
BSc Course
Weekly Hours
FS 2024
Juniorprof. Dr. Rainer Michael Rilke
Please note that exchange students obtain a higher number of credits in the BSc-program at WHU than listed here. For further information please contact directly the International Relations Office.

The behavioral sciences have profoundly impacted the domain of business ethics. While traditional business ethics often addresses the normative question of how individuals should decide and behave in business contexts, behavioral business ethics seeks to understand why and how people actually make ethical decisions. This field investigates the discrepancies between individuals' intentions to behave ethically and their actual behavior, highlighting the personal and situational factors that contribute to this gap.

The enriched purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the foundational questions, methodologies, and empirical findings of behavioral business ethics, as well as to illuminate the normative theories that inform what ethical behavior ought to be. Through a synthesis of classic readings, cutting-edge research papers, and normative ethical theories, we will critically examine various approaches and discoveries. Additionally, we will integrate normative ethics, drawing on ethical frameworks such as deontology, utilitarianism, and virtue ethics, to assess and prescribe ethical business conduct.

This course aims to provide a holistic perspective on business decisions and ethics by integrating empirical observations with normative ethical considerations. While the list of topics is not exhaustive, it is designed to offer a comprehensive impression of the dynamic and multifaceted nature of behavioral business ethics and its normative implications.

A preliminary syllabus can be found here

Date Time
Friday, 19.01.2024 11:30 - 15:15
Wednesday, 24.01.2024 11:30 - 15:15
Thursday, 01.02.2024 15:30 - 18:45
Tuesday, 06.02.2024 11:30 - 15:15
Wednesday, 14.02.2024 11:30 - 15:15
Friday, 16.02.2024 11:30 - 15:15
Tuesday, 27.02.2024 14:00 - 15:00
The grading will consist of a
  • Online Presentation
  • Exam

  • Oral Participation

Students can work on a term paper in groups. Groups will be partially randomly assigned. The term paper has to be submitted during the lecture period, i.e., before the exam.

Students work individually on the exam. The exam covers the topics and papers discussed during the lecture.

Depending on the size of the class, active participation might also be incorporated in the final grade.

WHU | Logo