|Year : 2011 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 66-73
Business Ethics as field of teaching, training and research in East Africa
Michael Mawa1, Jane Adams2
1 Department of Development and Community Studies, Nkumba University in Entebbe, Uganda
2 Department of Philospophy, University of Pretoria, South Africa
|Date of Web Publication||13-Oct-2011|
Nkumba University Entebbe Highway, P.O. Box 237, Entebbe
| Abstract|| |
The increase in corporate malfeasance has lead to a rising interest in Business Ethics in general and a particular focus on Business Ethics as an academic field, but the proliferation of Business Ethics as an academic field on a global scale is not yet as well known. This paper forms part of the global survey of Business Ethics that has been commissioned to gain a better understanding of the prevalence and scope of teaching, training and research in the field of Business Ethics. The paper provides a summary of the survey and research results regarding the current status of Business Ethics as an academic field in the East African region. The findings lead to a conclusion that Business Ethics has gained momentum and is having an increased presence in the region, but that it is far from well established as an academic field.
Keywords: Business Ethics, Teaching, Training, Research, East Africa
|How to cite this article:|
Mawa M, Adams J. Business Ethics as field of teaching, training and research in East Africa. Afr J Bus Ethics 2011;5:66-73
|How to cite this URL:|
Mawa M, Adams J. Business Ethics as field of teaching, training and research in East Africa. Afr J Bus Ethics [serial online] 2011 [cited 2013 May 22];5:66-73. Available from: http://www.ajobe.org/text.asp?2011/5/2/66/86037
| Introduction|| |
For the past 40 years the study of Business Ethics has gained considerable interest across the globe mainly due to an unprecedented high rate of business related scandals. This has raised concern among ethicists regarding the moral foundations of business practice and, certainly, has helped to fuel a growing public interest in Business Ethics. Whereas the voicing of ethical standards was formally a concern of a few exceptional leaders, today the topic of Business Ethics is acknowledged to pervade both economics and politics as well as the academic world. As a result, Business Ethics has become an area of great academic interest. However, the extent of engagement by academics in Business Ethics globally, nationally and regionally has yet to be fully established.
Occasioned by the need to understand the full extent of this emergent academic field, a global survey of Business Ethics was commissioned by Globethics.net in Geneva. For the purpose of the survey the world was divided into nine regions which represent all countries of the world. In the survey individuals and institutions involved in the field of Business Ethics were identified to provide information on key aspects of Business Ethics including the terms used to refer to Business Ethics in their national or local language(s); the training programs and academic courses that are offered; the research conducted and publications produced in the field; and the major issues and challenges that are foreseen over the next 5 years.
This article then presents an analysis of the status of Business Ethics in the East African region, which is one of the four sub-regions in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. The region surveyed consists of nine countries; Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. In the following discussion, we review the existing literature in the field of Business Ethics as it pertains to the subject as an academic field in East Africa, before discussing the methodology and finally the key findings of the survey.
| Existing Literature on Business Ethics as Field of Teaching, Training and Research|| |
Literature on Business Ethics as a field of teaching, training and research in the East African region is extremely limited. Although there exists some general literature on ethical issues of business, Business Ethics as academic field has received little attention as an area of research. A thorough review of the existing literature in the region reveals only two relevant research works on Business Ethics as an academic field of teaching, training and research. These two works are: Milanzi's (1997) article, Business Ethics in Eastern and Southern Africa, and Barkhuysen & Rossouw's (2000) article, Business Ethics as academic field in Africa: its current status.
Milanzi's article on Business Ethics in Eastern and Southern Africa is a seminal work considering the fact that literature on the subject is meager. It should be noted that this article included countries in both Southern and Eastern Africa. This article concluded that although ethical issues were prominent as concerns of both governments and corporations, and an acknowledgement that corruption in Africa has particular obstacles to overcome, there remained (as of 1997) only scant information regarding Business Ethics in the region.
The study determined that there was a lack of common terminology used to describe or connote Business Ethics. Milanzi found that "in Tanzania and Kenya Kiswahili terms such as mlungula, hongo, rushwa, kuzungumza, and nyundo are common as ordinary usage regarding undesirable business practices" (p. 1550). Indeed, the terms referred hereto connote general understanding of ethical or unethical conduct in business, but do not necessarily connote the term Business Ethics. Milanzi observed that the major ethical challenge for the region remains the need to mold a common ethical stance that can successfully maintain a business posture (p. 1551).
The study further noted that while 65% of academic institutions had business centres or schools of business, they lacked any institutional form of Business Ethics. No clearly defined courses devoted to Business Ethics were found although it was seen to be integrated into Commerce and Law courses or Management studies. This was observed in fifteen countries although the content was seen to concentrate mainly on processes in the business world and did not go beyond a basic understanding. Only limited work was seen in terms of research, consultancy or publication and seemed primarily limited to problems related to managerial issues and organizational constraints. Some studies, though, were found on organizational culture, Business Ethics, legal norms and pricing practices related to trade expansion (p. 1552).
Only a sparse number of workshops and conferences were organized and it was noted that private corporations were finding themselves in competition with government when government decided to assume a role related to Business Ethics. Milanzi's conclusion was that academics have a role to play in bringing forward the importance of Business Ethics theory and practice within their cultural context (p. 1553). The study did note that collaborative efforts were being seen and should be encouraged, although he warned against taking on a Western application of theories and experiences and advocated instead for a tradition of Business Ethics to be built from within the region.
Barkhuysen and Rossouw's (2000) article report on a Masters study by Barkhuysen (supervised by Rossouw) on Business Ethics in Africa. The study was a continental undertaking and so is larger than the one done by Milanzi which was confined to South and East Africa. The study was based on one key question and two sub-questions: "What is the current status of Business Ethics as an academic field in Africa?" and subsequently: "How has Business Ethics as an academic field been institutionalized in Africa?" and "What are the strengths and weaknesses of Business Ethics as an academic field in Africa?" (p. 230).
The sample size was large, and questionnaires were sent to every tertiary institution which had a department traditionally associated with the teaching of Business Ethics. This included schools of business, business management, accountancy, economics, philosophy, etc. (p. 232). In total 374 questionnaires were sent and 32 were returned. In addition, a total of 167 publications were found. Personal interviews were also conducted.
Their findings were that there were two camps with regard to the question on the central focus of Business Ethics, viz. that Business Ethics studies the ethical dimension and implication of business practice and that it improves the behavior of those in business. The main focus of respondents to the questionnaire was found to be firstly on prescriptive and secondly on descriptive ethics, mostly at the micro and meso levels with little focus on the macro ethical level or on metaethics (p.233).
Until this survey was completed there was no information on the number of Business Ethics courses available on the African continent. As a result of this survey it was documented that 77 courses were offered, 55 being undergraduate and 22 postgraduate within 40 departments or business schools at universities in 6 African countries viz. Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa. There were more courses at undergraduate than at postgraduate levels and of the 77 courses, most were part of the curriculum of another course or discipline such as Human Resources, Business Management, and Philosophy etc. These courses were also focused on the micro or meso levels and were normative or descriptive.
Of the 167 publications recorded, most articles originated in South Africa, followed by those authors who were not resident in Africa, followed by academics in Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. Again the research was largely focused on descriptive or normative issues with little attention being paid to meta-ethics - and what there was in this respect was mainly by European or North American authors. Most research was focused on the micro level, followed by the meso level, with very little on the macro level.
The study found that there were 7 centres in Africa, dealing with Business Ethics but Business Ethics was not their exclusive focus. These centres were located in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. There were also 4 institutes, none of which focused exclusively on Business Ethics. These were found in Egypt, South Africa and Uganda and had a normative ethics focus. The Business Ethics Network of Africa (BEN-Africa) was the only business network involved in building a database regarding Business Ethics. A limited number (6) of conferences/seminars were held in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. The study concluded that Business Ethics was at an emerging stage: still an academic 'field' and not yet an academic discipline. The vast majority of the activity on the continent originated in South Africa, although there was clear activity in the East African region as noted above, but there are vast differences in the resources and abilities amongst the institutions on the continent.
The two studies reviewed above revealed glaring gaps and issues in Business Ethics in Africa in general and in East Africa in particular, concluding that as an academic field it was still very much in the fledging stage. Since 2000, there have been a number of significant developments in the East African Region in Business Ethics. Our survey provides indicators to a number of new issues and areas of interests as well as the challenges in the field of Business Ethics.
| Survey Process and Methodology|| |
The process of conducting this study included the identification of possible sources of information, data collection, data processing and analysis, and production of reports. The initial steps of the survey required extensive data collection based on open resources and internet research. The primary search consisted of identifying all the tertiary learning institutions and institutes in each country and then drilling down for closer examination within faculties of Humanities, Philosophy, Business, and Economics focusing on the key words 'Business Ethics'.
The survey objective was to identify individuals and institutions with expertise in the field of Business Ethics, and expertise was defined as persons in an academic environment (1) who spend a substantial amount of their time (25% or more) on Business Ethics training or teaching, or (2) who have published research in Business Ethics. Institutional expertise in Business Ethics was defined as: academic, professional and non-profit (but not commercial) associations/institutions with an explicit focus on teaching, training or research in Business Ethics.
Country summaries providing background on the general levels of education in the country and the main tertiary learning institutions were compiled and information was added as a result of business and academic contacts made through e-mails, faxes and telephone calls. The primary resource for university and institutional data was compiled from the World of Learning electronic database and general internet searches. In addition, individual contacts and meetings allowed for a thorough discussion on the survey questions. A master summary list of all universities and institutions in the region that met the above criteria was collated along with contact information of individuals, departments and institutions, gathered from the internet and open sources. In addition, the BEN-Africa address list was used to identify individuals with an interest in Business Ethics in East Africa.
Like many other research endeavours, this survey process was certainly not without limitations. The survey process was faced with challenges of coordination, delays and low responses from the identified contacts, as well as the problem of limited details contained in websites for most institutions; websites for universities varied dramatically in the level of detail regarding the faculties which may be associated with Business Ethics. Also information about curricula, course content, and contact information were inconsistently available. In some areas websites were extremely primitive and afforded little information other than that there was a school of Business, Philosophy or Economics.
| Survey Findings|| |
The survey of Business Ethics in the East African region suggests interesting findings yielded through analyzing the data gathered on the key areas namely terminology and conceptualization of Business Ethics; prevalence and distribution of Business Ethics in the region; focus areas in Business Ethics; themes in training on Business Ethics; themes in teaching on Business Ethics; themes in Business Ethics research; and major business ethical issues in the region. The following sub-sections of this paper present the key findings of the survey.
Terminology and conceptualization of Business Ethics
The survey reveals that the term 'Business Ethics' is the most prominent term used in the East African region with 'civics' or 'civic ethics' being another commonly used descriptor for the field of Business Ethics in Ethiopia. The other most often used phrase relates to 'proper behaviour' or 'activity towards propriety'. Terms such as 'civic and ethical education', 'civic ethics', appear frequently in the curricula of a number of the universities in Ethiopia.
Although most local languages do not have an exact term for Business Ethics, there are many terms or expressions that refer to business ethical practices and behavior. In Ethiopia, the term 'sene megbar' is used to refer to ethics or morals. Other local terminology used in the region is: 'gebre gebener' which was interpreted as ethics in the sense of: 'proper behaviour / action'. In Tanzania, 'maadili ya uchumi na biashara' is used to indicate 'ethics for economic and business conduct', while in Uganda, the term 'ebyobushubuzi hamwe nemitwarize y'obushubuzi' translates to Economic and Business Ethics in the Rukiga language.
The absence of an equivalent term for Business Ethics in most East African languages is due to the fact that Business Ethics as a field of study in the East African region is still young. However, local languages of the East African people have rich vocabulary to refer to particular ethical issues that relate to business transactions.
Prevalence and distribution of Business Ethics in East Africa
According to the review of each country and the learning institutions therein (which included universities and technical colleges and other institutes of professional studies), some countries in the region have no indication of Business Ethics while others have a strong presence of Business Ethics in the educational institutions. In Djibouti, Eritrea and Seychelles, universities have faculties of business, economics, and management studies, but there is no indication of Business Ethics being offered as a subject of teaching.
In Ethiopia, internet searches of universities and institutes, along with interviews in Addis Ababa indicated seven universities with departments or faculties which traditionally housed courses related to Business Ethics and six of the universities specifically included terms associated with Business Ethics within their curricula. Of the six universities, five had faculties or schools of business, two indicated departments of economics with Business Ethics terminology mentioned in their curriculum, two had departments of finance or accounting and one university (University of Makelle) had a Department of Civics and Ethics and also had a Center for Good Governance. There were four other institutions (organizations or institutes) that had some relationship or involvement with Business Ethics.
In Kenya, internet research and individual interviews in Nairobi indicated that twenty universities had links to the traditional departments/courses that commonly include Business Ethics. On further examination, seven of the universities had some indication of Business Ethics within their course content. The terms used to indicate Business Ethics within the courses included; managerial ethics, corporate governance and social responsibility (Catholic University of Eastern Africa), personal and corporate ethics (Africa Nazarene University), corporate governance (Kenyatta University), Business Ethics (Moi University, United States International University, Strathmore University, Daystar University). The faculties or departments involved in the teaching of Business Ethics included: commerce, business administration, philosophy, economics, arts and social studies, business studies, and public administration. All seven universities offer both undergraduate as well as graduate studies - but there is no indication at which level(s) the courses are taught. There are two institutes linked to universities in Kenya with a connection to Business Ethics: the Center for Social Justice and Ethics (Catholic University of Eastern Africa) and the Centre of Applied Philosophy and Ethics at the Business Ethics Unit at Strathmore University.
In Somalia, twelve universities were initially investigated as they had the relevant schools or programs that potentially might include Business Ethics, four of which had further indications of Business Ethics as a focus. Amoud University included management course topics such as "issues on ethics and social responsibility", East Africa University included "social responsibility" in their course description, Gollis University included the goal "to make a positive difference" in the formation of their MBA students, and St. Clement's University included "codes of ethical conduct" on their Business Administration website. Unfortunately no questionnaires were received nor interviews conducted to verify this information.
In Sudan, fifteen universities were reviewed and course content and faculty lists explored where there were some indications of involvement in business, management, economics, commerce, etc. Of these fifteen universities, none had details available on websites or other open sources to indicate Business Ethics as a focus.
Tanzania has seventeen universities that have traditional programs often linked to Business Ethics. Of these five appear to have at least anecdotal information indicating that courses include some aspects of Business Ethics. One person interviewed indicated that the Open University of Tanzania, has a course on Governance and Leadership, and that the University of Dar as Salaam, Mzumbe University, Tumaini University, and St. Augustine all have some references to Business Ethics in their course content - but with the exception of the course offered at St. Augustine's, which was confirmed by questionnaire, none of the others could be verified. Two other centers indicate some involvement in Business Ethics: the National Board of Accountants and Auditors indicate that they provide courses on ethics dealing with compliance with IFAC's ethics rules. There is also a Tanzanian chapter of BEN-Africa which is developing a programme for ethics in SMEs.
Uganda was a surprisingly fertile country when exploring tertiary institutions regarding Business Ethics. Twenty six universities met the criteria for the first filtering process by having schools of business administration, economics, executive MBA programs, etc. Of these, ten had details available on their websites that indicated some Business Ethics involvement. While no course content information was found that gave details of Business Ethics within the curriculum there are some other indicators that Business Ethics is a focus. For example Makerere University proffers both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in "Leadership and Governance". In Makerere University Business School (MUBS), Business Ethics is one of the defined modules in the curricula. Nkumba University has Business Ethics course units at both undergraduate and post graduate levels leading to the award of BBA and MBA degrees. Uganda Martyrs University in addition to providing both BBAM and MBA programs with Business Ethics content has a Centre for the Detection, Education, and Eradication of Fraud and it pioneered the provision of ethics training in the country. Of the ten universities, information available indicated that eight offered degrees at both undergraduate and graduate levels where Business Ethics is one of the course units contributing to degree programmes. Three institutes were identified (Uganda Management Institute, Institute of Bankers and Institute of Chartered Public Accountants) that offer course units that include professional ethics but additional information on their contents was not available.
We can state with certainty, despite the disappointing low return of questionnaires, that there is evidence that Business Ethics has a presence in the East African region. The region has gradually but surely developed Business Ethics as a field of study, training and research. Most universities and institutes of professional management training have incorporated the teaching of Business Ethics. A cursory view reveals that Business Ethics is present at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels of study as well as in professional training courses leading to the award of professional certificates and diplomas. It is observed that the concentration of expertise is highest in Uganda, followed by Ethiopia and Kenya, then Tanzania and Somalia. No evidence was found via internet, desktop or anecdotal information of Business Ethics in the other countries in the East Africa region, namely Djibouti, Eritrea, Seychelles, or Sudan.
Focus areas in Business Ethics
Information gained from the completed questionnaires and individual interviews indicated key areas which individuals or institutions self-identified as being areas of expertise or interest. Most individuals identified Philosophy of Management, Business Management and Marketing, Professional accounting, Accounting and Ethics, Environmental Ethics, Business Ethics and Ethics of Globalization among the key areas of focus. Most institutions of professional studies identified Code of Ethics and Professional Code of Ethics as key areas of focus.
The findings of this survey suggest that there is significant emphasis on the meso-economic level rather than on the micro and macro levels of Business Ethics. Most institutions of learning and training as well as individuals involved in the field of Business Ethics place emphasis on key areas of corporate social responsibility, ethical leadership/corporate scandals, importance of ethical codes, unethical business practices such as fraud and corruption, and corporate governance, among other areas.
Themes in training on Business Ethics
Desktop research for most training institutions revealed some level of involvement in training in aspects of Business Ethics. In Kenya, for instance, Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) has a diploma and an executive MBA course and provides training to public and private sector. While it does not use the language of Business Ethics, it does state that it "promotes excellence and integrity in the practice of management and the protection of management profession". The Centre for Corporate Governance states its mandate as training and education in the area of corporate governance and provides various workshops for employees on all levels as well as to board members of corporations, institutions, and organizations. The Institute of Certified Public Accountants - Kenya (ICPAK) includes "ethical standards" in its mandate and also includes education and professional development amongst its contributions. No details were however, available regarding the courses or training programmes.
In Ethiopia, interviews revealed more details regarding training in Business Ethics. The Private Sector Development Hub in conjunction with the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce is organizing training towards the development of a national Corporate Governance Code for Ethiopia. The African Institute of Management, Development, and Governance (AIM-DG) specifically identifies itself as a provider of training services to public, private and non-governmental organizations and within this mandate they include the specific areas of "ethics and accountability in government and business" and "corporate governance".
Much information regarding training was received from Ethiopia's Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC), which has been provided to over 125,000 people from public institutions. It takes the form of both direct education as well as "train the trainer" programmes on ethics that are provided to all government departments, government institutions, and public enterprises. This training is organized by Ethics Officers placed in all these organizations, who are responsible for determining the ethics training needs of their respective organizations. Training is also provided to Ethics Officers and to university students, police trainees, and Ethics Clubs around the country. They are also responsible for Ethics Liaison Units which are charged with coordinating ethical issues at all levels of public and private enterprise (FEAC Annual Performance 2001: 56). Training manuals for general public on ethics and anti-corruption have also been developed. The primary theme of the education is the understanding, prevention, and eradication of corruption, but a major part of their training module includes "Ethical Principles and the Preparation of Codes of Ethics".
The Association of Certified Chartered Accountants in Ethiopia (ACCA) offered one continuing professional development (CPD) module on Ethics: Corporate Governance and Ethics. In addition, ACCA offers one module (out of fourteen) on Ethics for the ACCA program although it is not examinable, but must be completed for qualification. ACCA does not offer programs themselves, but conduct examinations on the modules.
In Uganda, the Uganda Institute of Bankers and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants provide professional training to their members to enhance their professionalism. There is a great deal of emphasis on professional codes of conduct in this training to enable members to understand the requirements of the established codes. The Uganda Management Institute also provides professional training to public servants to enhance professionalism in service delivery.
From the above information, it can be stated that the main focus of training in Business Ethics is on professional ethics within the context of the organization and between the public and private sectors, with particular attention to codes of ethics, governance, accountability and anti-corruption initiatives.
Themes in the teaching of Business Ethics
Information available on the teaching of Business Ethics in East Africa provides evidence of Business Ethics courses being taught at a number of universities in the region. Over forty universities were found to have Business Ethics somewhere in their curricula at the Bachelor's and Master's levels. This demonstrates definite involvement in Business Ethics within tertiary education across all three (macro, meso and micro) levels of Business Ethics. Given the number of courses, faculties and departments dealing with Business Ethics related courses, there might well be more courses offered in the field of Business Ethics in the region, but this information was not readily available.
From the data available, however, it can be concluded that Business Ethics is indeed an area of teaching. Major themes and topics of teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels include Corporate Governance and/or Leadership, Social Responsibility, Civics and Ethics, Applied Ethics, Managerial Ethics, Personal and Corporate Ethics, Codes of Ethics, Governance and Values, Civics and Ethical Education, Ethics and Public Management, Professional Ethics and Legal Liability, Justice and Business, among other themes. Principles of Business Ethics seem to dominate in the teaching of Business Ethics.
However, it was difficult to determine how many of the Business Ethics courses are compulsory or elective as internet information did not provide that level of detail and only a few respondents to the questionnaires provided this information. We can only presume that the topic is a general one providing an overview of general "Business Ethics" principles. More details on the description of these courses and their content, and their elective or compulsory status within degree programmes are required to get a clear picture of how comprehensively Business Ethics is taught and from which disciplinary basis it is being offered.
Themes in Business Ethics research
The data collected on this theme reveals that research in Business Ethics is indeed being undertaken in the region. Although a small percentage of responses were received, there is clear indication that research in the field has been taking root in the region. Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda are among the countries in the region with evidence of academic research undertaken in the field of Business Ethics with the highest concentration coming from Kenya, where some authors were quite prolific. Topics ranged across all three levels of Business Ethics but there was virtually no indication that any attention is being paid to the study of Business Ethics as an academic field as such. Much attention is paid to practical applications of Business Ethics, such as in the specific practices of professions like accountancy, and in the development of good governance practices. Nevertheless, much information about the extent and coverage of Business Ethics publications in the region remains unclear owing to the low responses on questionnaires.
The prevalence of research and publications in Business Ethics found in East Africa was determined by data collected from the questionnaires, the Africa-wide NiPAD database, the ISI Sub-Saharan database, the Scopus data extraction for Sub-Saharan Africa, personal interviews conducted in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania, and content analysis from public information documents from organizations in East Africa.
The total number of research publications identified was thirty-eight, originating from a number of quite varied sources, which included academic works, educational publications, corporate publications, and public documents. What should be noted however is that because there were very few respondents to the questionnaire, the sample size was small. Several respondents were well published and one academic had thirteen publications (representing 34 % of the articles) and one private organization reported eight documents (representing 21% of the articles). This resulted in the analysis being skewed because of the inputs of these key respondents. The publications and submissions by the private corporation clearly reflected some of their principal areas of concentration, namely codes of ethics for professionals and management and the fight against corruption.
Similarly the above-mentioned well-published academic comes from a religious background and institution which is manifested in the relatively high number (4) of articles with Business Ethics framed within a Christian or religious context. It may also be argued that some of these publications, specifically those produced by agencies and largely intended for the public, may not reflect academic effort and rigour as the sources were not confined to research institutes or universities. In the literature earlier reviewed, it was pointed out by Rossouw and Barkhuysen in 2000 that of the one hundred and sixty seven publications found at the time of that study, the majority of articles originated from South Africa followed by Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. The findings of this survey would indicate that Kenya continues to lead in East Africa, followed by Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda.
Major business ethical challenges
Considering the enthusiasm of respondents on this specific theme of the survey, it is clear that experts of Business Ethics in the region see a host of issues of concern and challenges emerging in the field of Business Ethics over the next five years. The majority of the ethical challenges raised were at the meso level, with little emphasis on the micro level. Of particular note is the strong reference to unethical business practices, specifically fraud and corruption which may be a reflection of the political and economic realities faced by the communities in East Africa.
At the macro level, experts in the field identified challenges and issues related to Business Ethics such as; environmental and human rights; environmental degradation, pollution and climate change; reducing the gap between rich and poor, the ethics of economic systems, turning around the conviction that unethical business is acceptable, super profits, and unethical profit making in disadvantaged communities. At the meso level, the challenges and issues identified by experts in Business Ethics include business and society, corporate responsibility, ethical leadership in preventing corporate scandals, the importance of codes of ethics, triple bottom-line strategies, fair labour practices and the non-exploitation of employees, undemocratic governance, unethical business practices like fraud and corruption, corporate management; and foreign influence in Africa. At the micro level, the challenges and issues identified by experts in Business Ethics focused mostly on managerial behaviour and work ethics.
| Conclusions and Recommendations|| |
On the basis of the above findings it can be concluded that Business Ethics is slowly gaining recognition as a field of study in the East African Region with many institutions of learning incorporating some aspects of Business Ethics in their curricula. While there was a disappointingly low response to the questionnaire, there is considerable evidence that the study of Business Ethics is taking place in pockets in East Africa and that tertiary institutions lead the way as demonstrated in the courses offered and the research published. Institutes, associations, and especially the accounting profession also make regular contributions related to Business Ethics.
However, there appears to be a lack of integration between tertiary education and civil society, manifested in the scant number of workshops, seminars and conferences that could and should draw together the key experts in this field. Milanzi's conclusions, that academics have a role to play in bringing forward the importance of Business Ethics theory and practice within their cultural context would still ring true today, thirteen years later (p 1553). And while there is a tantalizing amount of evidence that Business Ethics is emerging as a field of study there is surprisingly little 'marketing' of Business Ethics despite daily revelations of ethically questionable behaviour and practices in the private and public sectors. These unsavoury revelations provide an opportunity to put Business Ethics in the limelight.
For Business Ethics to achieve prominence as a field of study in the East African Region, the following recommendations are deemed necessary to enhance teaching, training and research in the field:
- Increased collaboration among Business Ethics experts in the region to enlarge their capacity in research, training and teaching of Business Ethics as a field of academic study.
- The establishment of an accurate and reliable database of those involved in the teaching, training and research in the field of Business Ethics. The low participation in this study is a matter of concern and it is possible that committed persons involved in the field of Business Ethics may have been left out. In addition, in countries such as Sudan and Somalia where minimal information was available, a different survey approach that might reach tertiary education institutions that are Islamic or largely Arabic speaking, may lead to more substantial and comprehensive results.
- The Inter-University Council for East Africa and the National Regulatory Agencies need to work together to streamline the content of Business Ethics to enhance the quality of teaching. This will help to consolidate and concentrate the study and research areas of the different institutions in the region. Minimum course content is recommended for each level of study.
Further studies are recommended to investigate the available literature on Business Ethics in the region, the methodological aspects in the teaching and training of Business Ethics, and, the impact of professional ethics training on the conduct of professionals in the region, among other areas. It is also recommended that a database of Business Ethics activities in the region be established so that trends and initiatives can be tracked over time.
| References|| |
|1.||Accounting Society of Ethiopia. 2007. Accounting Focus, A journal of Accounting Society of Ethiopia, 3(1). Addis Ababa: Accounting Society of Ethiopia. |
|2.||Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce 2010. Private Sector Development Hub (PSD Hub). [Online] Available: http://www.addischamber.com/ [Accessed Feb 18, 2010] |
|3.||Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce 2009. Review of the legal and institutional framework for market competition in Ethiopia. Private Sector Development Hub (PSD Hub) Publication No. 7. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia |
|4.||Association of Accountants and Auditors, Ethiopia (ACCA Ethiopia). Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. [Online] Available: http://www.accaglobal.com [Accessed Feb 17, 2010] |
|5.||Barkhuysen, B., Rossouw, G. J. 2000. Business Ethics as academic field in Africa: its current status. Business Ethics: A European Review, 9(4): 229-235 |
|6.||Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission; Annual Performance Report 2009. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. [Online] Available: http://www.feac.gov.et/ [Accessed February 17, 2010] |
|7.||Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda: Continuing Professional Development. [Online] Available at: http://www.icpau.co.ug/icpau/downloads/CPD%202010.pdf & http://www.icpau.co.ug/icpau/ [Accessed Feb 17, 2010] |
|8.||Milanzi, M. C. 1997. Business Ethics in Eastern and Southern Africa. Journal of Business Ethics, 16(14): 1549-1553. |
|9.||World of Learning. [0nline] Available at: http://www.worldoflearning.com/ [Accessed January 26, 2010] |