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Seminar: Ethics & Leadership

Course code
Course type
MSc Course
Weekly Hours
HS 2019
Prof. Dr. Miriam Müthel
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.

Not only since the financial crisis in 2008 there are more and more calls for responsible, ethical leaders. To become an ethical leader, managers need to develop awareness for ethical problems and need to develop an own approach of ethical reasoning and decision making. The aim of this course thus is to foster students' awareness for ethical problems and to support their individual ethical reasoning.

Even further, ethical leaders are important role models for their organizations. We thus discuss elements of ethical leadership and look at how (ethical) leaders can create ethical organizations on various levels.

Thereby, we will analyze scientific literature on these topics and compare the state of the art in research with corporate reality.

Please note that the number of participants is limited to 30 students. Places will be distributed on a first come first served basis. In case that more than 30 students sign up we will inform those who are over the limit and therefore cannot participate.

Date Time
Thursday, 12.09.2019 11:30 - 13:00
Thursday, 10.10.2019 09:45 - 18:00
Students learn about (un)ethical behavior in firms:
  1. Students will learn answering the following questions: What is ethical culture, ethical leadership and ethical followership?
  2. Students will discuss leadership implications that are related to answering the three basic questions.
  3. Students will discuss the applicability of the leadership implications across different cultural and business contexts.
  4. Understanding the basics of ethical behavior in firms and how to foster it, nurtures students‘ confidence to become ethical leaders.
  5. Aligning a scientific analysis with the discussion of leadership implications for practice, nurtures critical thinking and problem solving skills.
  6. As combining ethical performance with business performance is a central element of managerial and entrepreneurial practice, this course therefore also contributes to learning in this area.

Students learn how to write a MSc thesis:

  1. Students will learn how to conduct an efficient literature review
  2. Students will learn how to develop a research framework for their thesis
  3. Students will learn how to structure their thesis
  4. Students will learn how to identify managerial implications
Kaptein, M. (2008). Developing and testing a measure for the ethical culture of organizations: The corporate ethical virtues model. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29(7), 923-947. Kaptein, M. (2009). Ethics programs and ethical culture: A next step in unraveling their multi-faceted relationship. Journal of Business Ethics, 89(2), 261-281. doi: 10.1007/s10551-008-9998-3Trevino, L. K., Butterfield, K. D., & McCabe, D. L. (1998). The ethical context in organizations: Influences on employee attitudes and behaviors. Business Ethics Quarterly, 8(3), 447-476.For additional topic-specific papers reading lists will be provided in class.
Seminar thesis, group presentation
1) Thesis 70% (80% Individual Grade, 20% Team Grade)
2) Group Presentation 30% (Team Grade)
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