Using Disasters to Teach Ethics in Accounting and Business

44 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2017

See all articles by Miriam Gerstein

Miriam Gerstein

Brooklyn College

Hershey H. Friedman

Brooklyn College of the City University of New York

Date Written: July 6, 2017

Abstract

This paper describes a method of teaching accounting ethics that can easily be incorporated into any course. This approach focuses on disasters that resulted from a disregard of ethics. This paper posits that examining the consequences of unethical behavior and providing real-life examples can make a course in business ethics more valuable and interesting to students. This paper examines several kinds of disasters that resulted from disparate causes such as defective products, nuclear accidents, and accounting fraud. The consequences of these disasters range from the deaths of innocent people to the loss of pensions to the loss of one’s home. What do all these cases have in common? The answer is greed. When executives are more concerned about bonuses, profits, compensation, and/or growth they are more likely to cause harm to others.

Keywords: business ethics, disasters, sinking of the Titanic, Bhopal, Rana Plaza, credit default swaps, sustainable business, triple bottom line

JEL Classification: D18, E43, G33, M41, G21

Suggested Citation

Gerstein, Miriam and Friedman, Hershey H., Using Disasters to Teach Ethics in Accounting and Business (July 6, 2017). Journal of Accounting, Ethics and Public Policy, Vol. 16, No. 3, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2998222

Miriam Gerstein (Contact Author)

Brooklyn College ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Hershey H. Friedman

Brooklyn College of the City University of New York ( email )

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