Ethics and The Richmond MBA

January 26, 2021
Having a complex understanding of ethics is critical to success in the business world.

Having a complex understanding of ethics is critical to success in the business world. The Richmond MBA requires all students to take Social, Ethical, Legal Responsibilities of Business. Professor Jonathan Wight has taught the subject in undergraduate programs since 2006, and in the MBA program since 2018.

“This course prepares MBA students for ethical leadership in a complex world,” Wight said. “In particular, MBA students should understand a range of ethical perspectives and how they apply to business.”

The course is designed to examine the theory and practice of law and ethics in the context of economic and other organizational interactions.

Alex Mait, GB’22, an associate project manager at Industrial TurnAround Corporation (ITAC), recently completed the course.

“I enjoyed our deep discussions into real-world examples of ethical behavior and the pitfalls of unethical or questionably ethical decisions made by business leaders,” Mait said. “We were given the opportunity to research a particular company in depth and teach-back our findings to our classmates. This was an excellent opportunity for us to dive deeper into the ethical frameworks learned during the course and apply them to real-world situations.”

Wight and Mait agree, an understanding of ethics is an important part of a successful business model.

“Ethical considerations are ubiquitous in business life,” Wight said. “Why are people honest? How and why do people care about their commitments and duty to shareholders and other stakeholders? This course examines the conflicts between intersecting and often contradictory moral demands. To navigate in a complex and changing world, business leaders need basic literacy in ethical modeling and its applications.”

The students discuss real-world situations involving human rights, labor issues, the natural environment, international laws and norms, and cultural relativism among others.

“Students analyze and decide for themselves what it means to be ethical, and why they are called on to obey informal norms and formal laws, or to argue for their evolution,” Wight said.

Which Mait said was extremely beneficial for him.

“We learned how to dissect business situations under the lens of proper ethical behavior,” Mait said. “Professor Wight certainly helped us take a difficult subject and contextualize it for our everyday use.” 

For more information about The Richmond MBA curriculum, click here.