Statistical Analysis Of Corporate Social Responsibility Commerce Essay

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This research proposal is concerned with an analysis of Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility as taught in UK University/Business Schools. The research investigates the top 25 UK business schools from the Guardian Guide 2011: Business and Management Studies and a further 25 UK University/Business Schools from the bottom 50 of the Guardian list.

The research explores the relationship between the inclusion of ethics education on business and MBA courses, the teaching and supporting research for ethics within these schools and the presence of ethical standards throughout the university or business school.

The data for this research will be collected from each institution's web site. The rationale behind this is that web sites provide a rich source of information and provide the means from which to apply direct comparisons.

Web sites are not only the 'public face' of an institution but they portray how that institution perceives itself and how it wishes to be perceived.

Today the actual legitimacy of the role and importance of ethics is no longer being debated by many leading businesses, it is being regarded now as a core discipline of business, along with finance, strategy, marketing and the like.

This research looks at the development of ethical teaching in UK business schools and from this to determine how well ethics and its offshoots have been incorporated into the mainstream of business education. It looks at the commitment to ethical teaching in these institutions and the consistency of ethical behaviour throughout.

1.0 Introduction

The research is based on a working paper by Wallace. J, Tassabehji. R and Cornelius. N, (2006) entitled 'A Statistical Analysis of Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Identity and Ethics Teaching in Business Schools'

The paper by Wallace et al is concerned with an analysis of the top 25 rated business schools, as identified in the in the Financial Times Top 100 listing (2004). These business schools were compared against 25 US business schools not rated in the Financial Times listing.

By contrast this paper will look at the top 25 UK University/ business schools as indentified in the Guardian Guide 2011: Business and Management Studies and compare against 25 UK university/business schools listed in the bottom 50 of this guide. The lower rated universities have been picked by geographical location in order to limit any potential bias.

While there are some detractors of the case for business ethics and the very concept of Corporate and Social Responsibility (Karnani, 2010) there is significant support, predominantly from the North American and European perspective, towards the adoption of ethical policies and practices. This supports not only the need to embrace business ethics and CSR but to include environmental factors, sustainability, corporate governance and corporate citizenship.

Employing business ethics and CSR practices can be seen as not just a reaction to events or a means of appeasing customers but as a means of prevention as well.

Criticism has been made of some key players in recent business scandals and the number of those involved who are MBA graduates. The inference is that there has been an absence of teaching of fundamental and basic ethical behaviour at business schools and universities and that the emphasis has been on the 'hard' subjects such as accounting and finance.

While students in business schools may well already have the fundamental grounding of ethical values and processes of reasoning installed from their childhood the teaching of business ethics can reinforce such values and provide a more structured framework for reasoning and analysing ethical issues.

However, there is evidence to suggest that an absence of ethical teaching in business schools along with a predominant culture of self-interest, not to mention a certain presence of self-importance, cultivates an attitude that, regardless of one's personal ethical values, business ethics remains an oxymoron.

Business schools have the opportunity therefore, and some would even say duty, to educate their students as to the need for ethical behaviour in business and also to promote ethical behaviour as a constant throughout their institution. There is the requirement to do as we do rather than do as we say, not as we do.

2.0 Aims and Objectives

This paper investigates the formal teaching of business ethics in the top twenty five ranked business schools in the UK, as listed in the Guardian University Guide 2011: Business and Management Studies.

It explores the relationship between the inclusion of ethics education on business and MBA courses, the teaching and supporting research for ethics within these schools and the presence of ethical standards throughout the university or business school.

It explores the adoption of business ethics/CSR as a core or elective module in business and MBA courses. It further investigates the alignment of this with the general practices of teaching, research and promoting of ethical behaviour as an organisation.

The paper asks the following two questions:

Is it necessary for a university/business school and its faculty to be highly engaged and committed to business ethics/CSR in order to provide the required high standard of business ethics education?

Are university/business schools embracing ethics and CSR as a fundamental requirement for business studies or do they regard the subject from a perspective of begrudging compliance?

Furthermore the paper compares the results from this against the twenty five university/business schools in the bottom fifty schools listed by the Guardian. From this it could be determined whether the inclusion of ethics education is consistent throughout the range of educational institutions and therefore determine the perceived importance of and the commitment to ethics education in UK business schools.

The twenty five institutions from the bottom fifty list have been selected to ensure a wide geographical distribution to reduce any possible bias to particular regions in the UK.

The data for this research will be collected from each institution's web site. The rationale behind this is that web sites provide a rich source of information and provide the means from which to apply direct comparisons. The web sites are accessible by potential students to determine the suitability of a university to their needs. They are able to look at the range of subjects being taught, their content, duration, entry requirements, cost as well as other salient information. Indeed, it is this window into the institution that allows the student to make their own comparisons with other educational establishments. The very decision to select a university of business school may well depend upon the information and quality of an institution's web site.

Web sites are not only the 'public face' of an institution but they portray how that institution perceives itself and how it wishes to be perceived. They are an excellent medium to explore and access the institutions not just for the information on their business courses but also to look across the entire range of subjects, facilities, reports, corporate identity, culture and ethos.

3.0 Literature Review

Ethics and corporate social responsibility are not entirely new to business schools in the UK. An article in the Guardian by Jessica McCallin, published in 2003, entitled 'In Sustainable Company' highlighted the introduction of specialist post graduate courses at several universities.

The article emphasise the birth of CSR and sustainability courses in the wake of the Nike and Shell scandals and notes that many of the courses were driven by students asking for staff to teach CSR as part of their MSc and MBA curriculum (McCallin, 2003).

This would indicate that the awareness and need to incorporate the teaching of business ethics, CSR, sustainability and the like has been of growing importance for some time and that current issues only serves to emphasis its importance and encourage further activity (Terry, 2010).

There are still some opponents to the very idea of CSR, as the publication of an article by Aneel Karnani in the New York Times (2010) shows. His article entitled 'The Case Against Corporate Social Responsibility' stated "the idea that companies have a responsibility to act in the public interest and will profit from doing so is fundamentally flawed". Karnani espoused on the irrelevance and ineffectiveness of CSR, stating more or less what had been expressed by his predecessor Milton Friedman over forty years ago. Friedman's article in the New York Times, September 1970, "The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits" still remains the most eloquent opposition to CSR and Karnani adds nothing of value to this rather tired and outdated rhetoric.

Precious research carried out that suggest business students, particularly those on an MBA pathway, were in need of guidance in ethics and moral reason more than other students (Trevino and Nelson, 1999). There have been indications that business school education lacked rigour in teaching ethics and in some cases actual weakens it, much of this due to the emphasis on finance, economics, strategy etc. (Segon and Booth, 2009)

A significant survey carried out by the Journal of Business Ethics in 2007 into CSR, ethics and sustainability in the top 50 global MBA programs indicated that "Interviews with leaders at the schools and surveys found that nearly one-third of the responding schools require coverage of all three topics in the MBA curriculum". In addition "25% of respondents MBA students to study ethics through a stand-alone course, a fivefold increase in the number of stand-alone ethics courses since a 1988 investigation on ethics." (Christensen et al, 2007).

Today the actual legitimacy of the role and importance of ethics is no longer being debated by many leading businesses, it is being regarded now as a core discipline of business, along with finance, strategy, marketing and the like. There is a call for ethics to be taught not just as a standalone course but to also integrate ethics into other business disciplines (Terry, 2010).

4.0 Methodology

This paper investigates the relationship between CSR and ethics teaching provision and the ways in which this teaching is provided and developed.

The analyses will be undertaken under the following headings:

Ethics Teaching - the mode and type of course provided and whether core of elected.

Communication and Visual Identity - the corporate identity of the institutions, predictors for excellence, uniqueness and quality of research.

Behaviour - ethical behaviour apparent for employees, management and for the institution.

Corporate Culture - CSR and stated goals, achievements and aspirations.

Marketing Strategies - Selling the value for location, educational quality, reputation and career progression.

Although there is a certain amount of subjective assessment likely in the conclusions from the data collected the actual analysis is from a positivistic position and quantitative in nature, each section being analysed against a varying scale of measurement.

For example the analysis for Ethics Teaching will consist of the following tests:

Teaching on both core and elective programmes:

Options O =integrated (integrated throughout a specialist module)

S = Seperate (a separate ethics module)

N = No provision

Programmes by ethical content to be rated as either proactive (P) or reactive (R).

Binomial test to be carried out to determine a preference for integrated or separate modules.

Binary \logistic regression model also fitted to the business school type (Top/Lower) as the single predictor variable. Proactive programmes to be coded as 1, reactive as 0.

A cross-sectional study such as this will involve predominately comparison analysis but it is hoped to include a rigorous application of varying tests (binomial, correlations and concordance (Kendall's Tau-b coefficient) correspondence analysis etc) to produce accurate and realistic results overall. Where applicable it is expected to determine the rejection or confirmation of the corresponding null hypothesis, based on the two research questions from Section 2.

5.0 Conclusion

A 2007 survey for the Wall Street Journal involving 4,430 corporate recruiters stated "personal ethics and integrity" as one of the five most important attributes the look for in their candidates (Krehmeyer, 2007). Corporations are expecting such attributes to be instilled from business courses and MBAs. Students will also expect to have such courses made available, and the expertise and resources required to support the courses.

It is clear that corporate ethics, CSR, sustainability, the environment and corporate governance are all issues that need to be addressed. These are not issues that are going to go away and future corporate leaders and managers must be not only aware of the problems but must also be prepared and equipped to make an accurate analysis and come to the correct decisions on how to deal with such issues.

This research looks at the development of ethical teaching in UK business schools and from this to determine how well ethics and its offshoots have been incorporated into the mainstream of business education. It looks at the commitment to ethical teaching in these institutions and the consistency of ethical behaviour throughout.

The scope of the research is such that it is feasible in the time allowed for this dissertation. To allow three months for completion in reality, for a part time student, assumes a weekly input of fifteen hours maximum. Making an allowance of one week where, for various reasons, no work is done this gives a total of 165 hours (assuming a standard four week month). The advantage with the method of data collection proposed here is that it can be done at any time convenient to the researcher. This gives a distinct advantage to the researcher over such methods as surveys or interviews where, aside from being time intensive, has to be programmed in to narrow time slots and generally to fit the availability of the interviewee or subject to the participation of a percentage of the survey's target audience.

By analysing institute web sites a rich pool of information is available that allows for direct comparative analysis in most items. Furthermore the researcher can revisit each site, within a reasonable time period, to check any data collected or collect any new salient information they may have missed.

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