Money and Ethics


Name: Michelle Westermann-Behaylo, J.D. Ph.D.

Question: Each semester for the past few years, I have showed my students a clip from Paul Solman on ethics in business education, and the oath that many MBA students were taking to be responsible business persons upon graduation. The clip was from 2009 I believe. Your archives have moved, and I can’t seem to find that clip any more. Would you be able to help me locate that clip so I could use it to initiate discussion in my business ethics and corporate social responsibility classes this fall?

Paul Solman: As we’ve already written to Dr. Westermann-Behaylo, I never did a story about the MBA oath in 2009, nor, it seems, did anyone else at the NewsHour. But her email is a good excuse to link to a couple of business ethics stories over the years that were particular favorites of mine, and that may prove useful in classrooms. One is already online in streaming video and every few years someone I randomly encounter mentions it: “Silent Watchdogs.” From 2002, I think you’ll agree that’s it’s almost spookily prophetic of the crash to come.

But the real reason for printing Dr. Westermann-Behaylo’s email and this response is that it affords the opportunity to post our all-time favorite on business and ethics — or the lack thereof. The transcript of the story and the “Realaudio” has long been online but here, for the first time, is the video. Really, the Stew Leonard saga is amazing. So too the ethics class at Babson College.

Please remember, teachers: we not only allow but urge you to use our stories for free in your classrooms. A number of them have been embedded in skeleton lesson plans on the NewsHour’s Extra and all of them, over the past few years, are up at the Council on Economic Education’s Econ Ed Link web site, with accompanying teacher questions for your students, though there tends to be a lag between the time they run on the air and when they appear online. Just scroll down and click on “Making Sen$e with Paul Solman.” We also have a full lesson plan on the concept of “Moral Hazard.”

Let us know how we can be of further assistance, if you would. We consider teaching the highest of callings and have no higher mission than to help you educate Americans about business and economics. I’ve tried to make myself available to teachers, often via Skype, whenever logistically feasible.

This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown– NewsHour’s blog of news and insight.