Learning Right From Wrong In The Business World

Learning Right from Wrong in the Business World

The project team sharing their knowledge of business ethics with secondary school students through fun games

Business ethics has become a hot topic of late thanks to corporate misbehaviour and the global financial crisis. But in today's packed curriculum, how can the complex ethical issues involved be conveyed to the next generation of business leaders?

This thought was running through the mind of Dr Winnie Leung in the Faculty of Business and Economics who, with her undergraduate students, came up with a solution that takes business ethics learning beyond the HKU campus and into local schools.

They organised a programme for hundreds of Form 3-7 students that was delivered with the support and co-operation of Junior Achievement, an international organisation that promotes business ethics.

Seminars were held in three schools and a one-day convention was staged for students from 11 secondary schools that featured guest speakers from the Faculty and the business world.

In each of these events the secondary school students were introduced to ethics in broad, relatable terms, for example through the case of plagiarism, then guided towards understanding ethics in the business environment.

"The goal was to educate both the public and our own students," Dr Leung said. "Our students learn about business ethics through their regular courses but they have no opportunity to apply what they learn. This project has let them communicate about business ethics to the next generation."

The HKU students developed presentations, games and activities based on their extensive research on the topic. Frank Yu Wai To, who led the team, said they learned a lot in the process.

"This was a chance to deepen our knowledge of business ethics and get a better idea of its importance and impact on society," he said.

The same benefits were also apparent among the secondary school participants. In a survey at the end of the conference, 90 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that the gathering had raised their awareness about moral issues in the business world and helped them to establish clearer personal goals for being more ethical and socially committed in future.

The success of the project has inspired Dr Leung and the students to keep the programme going. A new group of student leaders is being recruited and they will be advised by the previous team. Junior Achievement is also back on board. Dr Leung said they hoped to double the number of secondary school students that they reach and widen the discussion to consider cross-cultural perspectives on business ethics.