The Problem with “Business Ethics”

Amidst the ongoing recriminations concerning responsibility for the 2008 financial crisis, business leaders continue to be listed among the guilty. Of course any objective analysis of the financial crisis soon indicates that politicians and central bankers were just as, if not more responsible for facilitating the financial perfect storm.

Still, the financial crisis has raised questions about the prevailing moral culture within the business community and the ethical formation they are receiving. As Professor Michael Jacobs astutely observed in the Wall St Journal: “As we try to understand why our economy is so troubled, fingers are increasingly being pointed at the academic institutions that educated those who got us into this mess. What have business schools failed to teach our business leaders and policy makers? Would Bernie Madoff have acted differently if he had aced his ethics final?”