Dean Danko argues for stronger emphasis on business ethics

Gregory Doyle

Dean James Danko’s recent article in BusinessWeek argues for a stronger emphasis on ethics in a business curriculum as well as the social responsibility that business students and educators now need to accept.

“B-Schools and the Almighty Dollar” appeared in the March 9 issue of BusinessWeek, where Danko addressed the need for a shift in business schools’ curricula in lieu of the recent recession.

“Our business students cannot merely spend a minimal period of time in a business class touching on ethics and then be done with it,” Danko wrote in his article. “Rather, our responsibility as business educators is to influence behavior over the long term.

This requires a deeper, broader approach to ethics education and a holistic understanding of what corporate social responsibility means in the context of business and society.

To do this, business education is in need of a structural makeover.”

The subjectivity of ethics makes its integration in the business curriculum more difficult.

“We can’t dictate morality,” Danko said. “Instead, business professors provide examples through case studies and hold discussions over what students believe is right or wrong. The moral foundation is there, especially through Villanova’s Augustinian heritage.”

The additions made to the business school’s curriculum were both predictive and reactive to the nation’s current economic state, according to Danko.

The new business dynamics course was introduced this year as a requirement for freshmen in the business school. It provides students with a holistic view of the business field and the various aspects that comprise it.

Instead of teaching finance, marketing, accounting and management as separate entities, Business Dynamics is meant to indicate how these areas are intertwined and work together in the business world, according to Danko.

“We introduce these topics now in a comprehensive way,” Danko said. “It makes the students more flexible. They don’t have blinders on and they’re able to enter the business world with an understanding of how everything works together.”

John Kozup’s course entitled “Post Bail Out Economy” is offered to seniors in the School of Business.

The class hosts speakers from Wall Street and Villanova professors to discuss the outlook of the market for those who are about to enter it.

These changes helped Villanova move up two spots from last year to No. 11 in BusinessWeek’s business school ranking this year.

Putting a greater emphasis on ethics will shift the perspectives of graduates of the business school, according to Danko.

The “me-approach” that dominated Wall Street for the past several decades will no longer suffice.

“There needs to be a placement of larger societal good over profit-making,” Danko said. “We can’t have a self-interested economy. There needs to be more global responsibility, for both individuals and corporations.”

Business educators should also accept this form of social responsibility, according to Danko.

The delay in the inclusion of ethics in business curricula skewed business students’ goals and mindsets in the business world.

“In the end, we’re not here to change unethical people,” Danko wrote in his article.

“That’s not our role as educators. But we do have a responsibility to educate young people on the societal value of business, not just the pursuit of the almighty dollar.”

Danko has since written a follow-up article reinforcing the need for changes in business curriculum.

According to Danko, the restructuring of business education should coincide with the ever-changing economy.

Today, the demand for an ethical background and an awareness of social responsibility supersedes the greed that permeated Wall Street for decades.

“B-schools need to be as innovative, agile and creative as possible in order to provide students with the best education possible,” Danko said.