2019-2020 / GEST3753-1

Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility


24h Th

Number of credits

 Master in law, professional focus in management4 crédits 
 Master in management, professional focus in law and management3 crédits 
 Master in management, professional focus in law4 crédits 
 Master in management (120 ECTS)4 crédits 
 Master in business engineering (120 ECTS)4 crédits 
 Extra courses intended for exchange students (Erasmus, ...)5 crédits 
 Master in human resources management (120 ECTS)3 crédits 
 Master in human resources management (120 ECTS) (MOST)3 crédits 
 Extra courses intended for exchange students (Erasmus, ...)3 crédits 


Virginie Xhauflair

Language(s) of instruction

English language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

Each day, news spotlights intolerable, deviant and unfair organizational behaviors. In response to numerous scandals and controversies, managers cannot ignore the « ethical phenomenon » anymore. Notions such as corporate social responsibility, conscious capitalism, shared value, etc. confirm this tendency. Business ethics management practices demonstrate the extent to which ethics is taken seriously by current managers. The implementation of particular management tools (certification, standardization, ethical codes, etc.) does remind us of the sometimes concrete and material embodiment of the ethical question. Finally, close examination of workers experiences and practices highlight how philosophicaland politicalconsiderations are very often connected to technical ones.
The purpose of this course is to allow students to capture the fourfold nature (discursive, philosophical, organizational and political) of the ethical phenomenon. It is indeed crucial for each decision-maker to understand this complexity, grasp the role he/she is playing in this global world as well as the sociological dynamics which (s)he will experience. By paying attention to firms responsibilities, businesses regulations and decision-making practices, students will also learn how to deal with inescapable philosophical debates and assumptions.
Detailed course outline:

  • Introduction to Business Ethics
  • Unit 1: Corporate Scandals, Ethical Turn and New Discourses - Ethics as a discursive phenomenon
  • Unit 2: Ethics, Ethical Theories & Worlds- Ethics as a Philosophical Phenomenon
  • Unit 3: Business Ethics Management - Ethics as an Organizational Equipment
  • Unit 4: Influence and Power in the Workplace - Ethics as a Political Engagement

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

From an analytical point of view, this course aims to

  • introduce students with core Business Ethics' concepts
  • capture the fourfold nature of the ethical phenomenon: discursive, philosophical, organizational and political
  • support students' ability to perceive and address the ethical nature of everyday business and social life
  • support the development of investigative, reflexive and analytical competencies
From a managerial point of view, this course aims to
  • shed new lights on decision-making and conflict-management
  • familiarize students withmulti-disciplinary thinking, especially regarding the ethical phenomenon
  • support students' ability to perceive and address the ethical nature of everyday business (and social) life
From a pedagogical point of view, this course aims to sensitize students with proactive and interactive teaching/learning methods
At the end of this course, students can expect to have developed problem-making, empirical research, ethical reasoning and debating skills.
Learning outcomes of the course:
This course contributes to the following Intended Learning Outcomes :
  • ILO-4 : To acquire the capacity to research autonomously and methodically the information needed to solve a complex, transversal management problem, 
  • ILO-5 : Integrate autonomously researched information, tools, knowledge and context to build and propose, either individually or as part of a team, original, creative and viable solutions to concrete complex management problems, whether real or simulated, taking into account, when necessary, the human, social and legal context.
  • ILO-7: Being capable of professional team work
  • ILO-9 : Developing a critical sense (arguing)
  • ILO-10 : Developing a transversal, global vision 
  • ILO-14: Faced with a management problem, suggesting solutions that are ethical and socially responsible and that respect the principles of good governance.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

none required

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Due to the size of the group, classes will be mostly taught ex-cathedra (virtual lessons).

  • Theoretical and conceptual presentations by the teacher, using virtual lessons
  • Empirical illustrations, brought by the teacher, in the form of case studies, videos, testimonials by guest speakers (business practitioners).
  • Group works investigations (a 4-step Critical Inquiry)
We recommend that students bring a laptop and/ora smartphone to be able to interact with the teacher and the group when using online toolslike wooclap. However, this is not compulsory and won't prevent you from following the course.

Mode of delivery (face-to-face ; distance-learning)

This course is delivered by virtual lectures as well as classroom tutorials. It is fully taught in English and requires a good level of English. Virtual lectures will consist in delivering the theoretical content of the course.
Classroom tutorials will consist in discussing case studies provided by the teacher. Students will have to read and prepare the case studies analysis and discussion prior to classroom sessions.

Recommended or required readings

For units 1, 2 and 4, the course content is complemented by scientific articles. Such articles should be read and studied by students not only to perform their group work but also to take the written exam.

  • Articles related to Unit 1 (Discourses): Students should be able to define fundamental concepts (shareholder value, shared value, corporate social responsibility, sustainable development) as well as compare discourses with each other.
  • Article related to Unit 2 (Ethical Theories): Students should be able to define, make use and apply the content of the different "worlds" developed by the authors (Boltanski and Thévenot, 1999)
  • Article related to Unit 4 (Ethical Theories): Students should be able to define, make use and apply the content of the "influence theory" by the authors (Bourgeois and Nizet, 1995)

Assessment methods and criteria

Each class period students will be expected to discuss the topics, analyze related issues, evaluate the situations described in cases and participate notably via online interactive exercises.
Students will also be evaluated based on one group work(55%), one final written exam - multiple choice questionnaire(30%) and a Peer Evaluation Form or PEF (15%)

Work placement(s)

Organizational remarks

Course schedule

Virtual lectures will be used to teach the course content. The teacher will make the videos available on the Lol@ platform as the course develops. Students will be informed when new course content is availble on the platform. 
The course will start during the week of September 30, with the publication of an introductory video. 
Classroom activities will be organized in 4 sessions. Sessions will be scheduled once the total number of students attending the course is known. Students will be informed about the sessions dates as soon as possible. 


Teacher: Virginie Xhauflair - v.xhauflair@uliege.be