'Bad teacher? Using films as texts when teaching business ethics: Exploring the issues'

Canadian Center of Science and Education
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Business and Management, 2015, 10 (8)
Issue Date:
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The contemporary teaching of business ethics necessarily involves the recognition that texts, materials and modes of assessment ought to be rendered appealing to students, while at the same time ensuring the quality of teaching. Prima facie the use of film can be seen as a way to address this dilemma: Students may be attracted to the ‘delivery’ of course content through the medium of film as opposed to, for example, standard lecture format, participation in online activities or, at a stretch, reading and writing. An alternative scenario can also be envisioned where the use of film in teaching business ethics is bad professional practice, pandering to both the requirement for positive assessments from students and for technological change. This paper discusses these issues by critically examining the films recommended by a contemporary business ethics text, Crane and Matten (2010). We identify significant problems with the use of two films, The Corporation (2005) and Michael Clayton (2007). Against our own criticisms of these two texts, the paper then focuses upon Ken Loach’s (2007) film It’s a Free World, arguing that it is a useful text for the illustration of what students, more often than not, regard as the clichéd issue of unskilled foreign wage labourers being exploited in ‘advanced’ western economies. Despite the considerable virtues of Loach’s particular text, we argue that any recourse to film as an alternative method of examining a range of issues in business ethics has to be treated with caution.
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