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Teaching Ethics and Leadership with Cases: A Bottom-Up Approach

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Ethics Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1163.1 - 24.1163.15



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Paper Authors


Daniel F. Jennings PE Texas A&M University

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Daniel F. Jennings is the Andrew Rader Professor of Industrial Distribution and program director of the Master of Industrial Distribution degree at Texas A&M University. He received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University and is a registered professional engineer. His research focuses on entrepreneurship, ethical dilemmas, and developing a sustainable competitive advantage within industrial distribution channels.

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Bimal P. Nepal Texas A&M University

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Dr. Bimal Nepal is an assistant professor in the industrial distribution program at Texas A&M University. His research interests include integration of supply chain management with new product development decisions, distributor service portfolio optimization, pricing optimization, supply chain risk analysis, lean and six sigma, and large-scale optimization. He has authored 30 refereed articles in leading supply chain and operations management journals, and 35 peer-reviewed conference-proceedings articles in these areas. He has B.S. in mechanical engineering and both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in industrial engineering. He is a member of ASEE and INFORMS, and a senior member of IIE.

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Teaching Ethics and Leadership with Cases: A Bottom-upApproachAbstractAlthough leadership is practiced at all levels in an organization, members of the organizationmay know very little about the strategy and psychology of leadership. One of the dilemmas forbusiness leaders around the world, the ones with a moral compass, is the question of theapplicability of business ethics. The concept of business ethics refers to the unwritten moral codethat guides the manner in which people practice business. Unlike legal requirements that arebacked up by the force of law and sanctions, ethical codes are generally not legally required inthe sense that there are no lists of sanctions for poor business ethics. However, the issue ofcorporate responsibility is a practice that business leaders around the world understand to be anecessity, both from the point of good morals, profitability, and from the point of maintaining agood relationship with the community in which the organization is located. The issue of ethics inleadership has taken greater importance in the today’s business world due to globalization andrapid advancement in information technology which significantly transformed the currentbusiness practices.The importance of ethics has been well recognized by many engineering colleges anduniversities around the world as they are the ones who produce the next generation of businessleaders. Most universities in the US now have at least one course that includes ethics or relatedtopics in their undergraduate engineering curricula. However, due to qualitative and abstractnature of the topic, the ethics course does not draw the same level of attention from studentscompared to that by some of the other courses like physics, and math. In this paper, we proposean innovative way of teaching the ethics and leadership topics at the undergraduate level. Inparticular, the paper presents a case study of a senior level course in ethics and leadershipdevelopment for Industrial Distribution program at a major university in the Southwestern US.The course focuses on learning about personal leadership skills within the context of anorganization. It examines the role and purpose of ethics in business and presents methods ofmoral reasoning in order to resolve ethical dilemmas. The paper describes how teaching based on“case study” approach has improved students understanding of the concepts and generatedinterest in the topic. We also discuss the sample cases and overall course planning and executionframework, just in case any other instructor is considering teaching the similar course. Finally,student feedback and survey results are presented to demonstrate the successful implementationof the proposed teaching method.

Jennings, D. F., & Nepal, B. P. (2014, June), Teaching Ethics and Leadership with Cases: A Bottom-Up Approach Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23096

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