Bauer Center for Business Ethics

Bauer's Approach to teaching Business Ethics

Why Promote Business Ethics at Bauer?

A company’s most valuable asset is its reputation for quality products and service integrity. For the C.T. Bauer College of Business, our reputation depends not only on the excellence of our programs and faculty, and the academic performance of our students, but on our professional behavior and ethical conduct as a community.

It is the hope and expectation of Bauer faculty that the ethical values students learn from family and community will continue to guide their lives while a student at Bauer College and later as alumni representing the Bauer College in the corporate community. We are committed to the reinforcement and further development of those ethical values.

Incorporating business ethics into the Bauer curriculum

Incorporating the study of business ethics into the curriculum is a critical step in improving the quality of education for all Bauer students. To further these goals, Bauer has developed several ways to expose students to the study of business ethics – by offering courses that include the study of business ethics; requiring Bauer students to attest to our own code of ethics and professional conduct; and exposing students to industry leaders who are model corporate citizens via panel discussions and live presentations on business ethics, just to name a few examples.

Most ethics courses housed under the philosophy department typically focus on the study of traditional philosophers such as Aristotle, Kant, and Socrates, within the context of personal moral dilemmas. The study of business ethics at Bauer focuses more on teaching students to recognize potential ethical dilemmas within contemporary business cases; to analyze such dilemmas; and to understand the potential consequences of decisions. Further, because of the increasingly global nature of business, it is appropriate that the study of business ethics include consideration of the values, culture, and ethical standards of different countries.

The Bauer College also expects students to maintain a high level of ethics and professionalism. Plagiarism, cheating, and any other form academic dishonesty are taken very seriously, as these acts undermine the integrity of the Bauer College degree. Additionally, we believe that students should maintain a professional demeanor, be respectful of all persons, as well as maintain individual accountability and integrity.

In 2006, the Bauer College created the Bauer Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (the Bauer Code) to formally acknowledge our expectations regarding student conduct.The Bauer Code is based on the principles set forth under the UH Student Handbook and covers issues such as academic honesty, respect, and individual accountability and integrity. Within the Bauer Code, students find many examples of expected behaviors regarding classroom conduct and interviewing etiquette, for example. Rationales for the expected behavior further reinforce Bauer’s values .Students are required to attest to their understanding of the Bauer Code as well as the UH Student Handbook, and to promise to adhere to the principles set forth under both.

The Bauer College holds an annual Leadership and Ethics Week, which provides corporate speakers, discussion, and competitions designed to engage students in a dialogue on ethics and to highlight the importance of ethics for the Bauer College. We also expect ethical behavior in the classroom and on assignments and tests. Plagiarism, cheating, and any other form academic dishonesty is taken very seriously, as these acts undermine the integrity of the Bauer College degree. Additionally, we believe that students should maintain a professional demeanor and be respectful of all persons on campus. The Bauer College is currently in the process of creating a Bauer Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, a set of principles designed to maintain a high level of ethics and professionalism within the Bauer College.

We also strongly encourage participation in professional business student organizations because they provide students with exposure to different professional codes of ethics, as well as role models of leadership and ethical behavior. We believe that exposure to such influences helps students transition from a college to business environment. One of the first challenges a student may face after graduation may be to take a stand against unethical practices in the workplace, perhaps even risking the loss of his or her job. The strength to withstand such pressure comes from a student’s sense of right and wrong, as well as the invisible support of a community that shares his or her ethical values, such as the community at the Bauer College. Ultimately, we hope to foster ethical outcomes by means of the Bauer College culture.

Orientation and Course Offerings

During New Student Orientation (NSO) for freshmen, or Advising and Registration for Transfers (ART), academic honesty is discussed with all new students. All students admitted to the business program, including change of majors, are required to read the Bauer Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and to attest to their understanding and commitment to adhere to the code’s principles.

GENB 4350: Business Law and Ethics. This junior/senior level required course offers an examination of the basic commercial laws surrounding business transactions and the ethical aspects of decision-making within these contexts.

For example, students discuss emerging business ethics issues; corporate governance and social responsibility; the effect of organizational factors such as culture, structure, and relationships on ethical decision making in business; and corporate codes of ethics. The course also requires students to attest again to their understanding and commitment to the principles set forth under the Bauer Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct as well as the UH Student Handbook.

ACCT 5397: Accounting Ethics. This course is approved by the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy and is offered only to returning graduates in need of a Texas ethics course for licensing purposes.

GENB 7304: Business Ethics for Accountants. This course is approved by the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy and is required for all graduate accounting students.

GENB 6350: Legal and Ethical Issues in Business This course is an elective course offered to graduate students and includes topics such as

  1. Analysis of legal problems which surround managers.
  2. Relations with officers, directors, government agencies, employees, customers and competitors.
  3. The study of legislation, court decisions and regulations.
  4. Introduction to legal ethics.
  5. Analysis of ethical issues inherent in business decisions.

Other Courses: Finally, Bauer believes that it is important for each core course to integrate ethical issues into its curriculum. While some subject areas provide richer contexts for ethical reasoning than others, the Bauer College believes that there are ethical issues that affect each subject area. Each faculty member from all disciplines is highly encouraged to include an ethics component within their courses.

For this reason, the Bauer Center for Business Ethics web site was developed primarily to assist faculty in incorporating the study of business ethics into their courses. Bauer faculty are provided ethics resources such as cases with teaching notes; readings on ethics; and access to a variety of videos and other interactive resources that can be used to incorporate the study of business ethics into their current courses.

Leadership and Ethics week

Leadership and Ethics Week is designed to promote awareness and understanding of the role of leadership and ethics within the business environment. The programs under leadership and Ethics Week facilitate the development of the leadership skills of students within the Bauer College of Business - skills essential for success in the real world of business.

The 2004 Leadership and Ethics Week events, hosted in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers, focused on the changing face of leadership in the business community, allowing participants to explore the implications of business decisions made in an increasingly diverse society.

For example, a Women in Leadership panel offered perspectives from executive leadership on how companies strategically recruit, train, and retain women in the organization. The panel discussed ethical issues that arise with management and co-workers between genders and how an increase in women executives impacts corporate culture.

The 2004 panelists included: Carin S. Knickel, EVP Human Resources for ConocoPhillips; Karen Walrond, Chief of Staff for Halliburton Energy Services; and Martha Carnes, Managing Partner for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Another event, High School Outreach: Leadership & Team building, involved a case competition among selected high school students. The students were given a particular problem relevant to the world of business and asked to provide an ethical solution. Students from the Bauer College in the Honors Program and a representative from PricewaterhouseCoopers assisted the high school students in preparing answers to the cases. This program served to challenge students’ communication, interpersonal, analytical thinking, and problem-solving skills within the context of ethical dilemmas within a fun and competitive framework. Judges typically include a group of Bauer faculty and corporate executives sponsoring the Leadership and Ethics Week.

Each year, Leadership and Ethics Week also includes a Distinguished Leadership Series. Launched in Fall 2002 with Mr. C.T. Bauer, founder and retired chairman of AIM Management Group, the Distinguished Leaders Series provides students, alumni and faculty exposure to business and community leaders, bridging academic teachings on leadership and ethics with the real world of business. The overall goal of the Distinguished Leaders Series is to expose Bauer College students to role models in the corporate world so that students are inspired to be the effective, conscientious business leaders of tomorrow.

In the past, panels of leaders have presented ethical, managerial and corporate leadership perspectives on how to manage diversity in a corporate environment. In particular, the panel discussed issues such as why diversity positively impacts the bottom line and what changes companies are making to manage a diverse workforce.

After all panel discussions, Leadership and Ethics Week hosts an ethics competition in which students are asked to provide a thorough analysis of a complex business case that includes ethical dilemmas. Each Bauer student is eligible to apply for the competition. A small number of students are selected by Bauer staff and randomly sorted into teams. The competition requires each team to prepare an oral presentation that proposes a solution to an ethical dilemma contained within a business case. Teams of approximately four members present their proposed solutions to the business case. Each member of the group include a Bauer faculty member, a University of Houston Law Center faculty, and two corporate executives sponsoring the Leadership and Ethics Week.

At the end of Leadership and Ethics Week, a keynote speaker closes the week's activities with an inspirational message to a select group of students. Attendance is limited to 100 students and requires nomination by a faculty member. Eligible students are those who demonstrate leadership qualities in the classroom and/or extracurricular activities. In 2004, the keynote speaker was Karen Walrond, Chief of Staff of Halliburton Energy Services. During the closing ceremonies, select students are presented with awards for outstanding service to the Bauer College.