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21513 Business Ethics and Sustainability

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2019 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Business: Management
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.
Anti-requisite(s): 21226 Sustainable Enterprise


This subject explores the breadth and depth of ethical issues confronting contemporary organisations as they relate to general business practice and sustainability. It examines major philosophical conceptualisations of ethics and applies these to critically analyse both theory and practice. It places particular emphasis on developing students' ethical vocabulary and ethical argumentation so that they are better equipped to successfully carry an ethically informed subjectivity into their organisational practice. This subject provides students with various frameworks for incorporating and critically evaluating sustainability in organisational practices and decision-making.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
1. apply relevant theoretical/philosophical understandings of ethics to critically appraise organisational and individual responses to ethical issues, conflicts and dilemmas
2. demonstrate an ability to develop, and clearly articulate in written texts, an informed ethical position on business issues
3. articulate the global sustainability landscape of principles, legal and regulatory frameworks and the social and environmental drivers of the sustainable enterprise logic
4. explain the relationships between sustainability and innovation, entrepreneurship, value creation and corporate governance

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the following program learning objectives:

  • Critically analyse business decisions in terms of ethical practice and social responsibility (4.1)
  • Critically analyse sustainability principles for various stakeholders in relation to business contexts (4.2)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The Business Ethics and Sustainability unit contributes to the Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Management by developing in students a critical understanding of the ethical issues, conflicts and dilemmas facing contemporary organisations as well as the conceptualisation of these ethical issues within the business ethics, corporate social responsibility and allied academic and practitioner fields. Using current ethical case studies, the subject equips students with a critical understanding concerning the management considerations necessary to advance their ethical vocabulary and ethical argumentation in a broad variety of organisational contexts. Through activities and content exploration, students sharpen their critical management skills and knowledge by equipping themselves with critical appreciation, and embodiment, of ethical attitudes and values.

This subject is geared towards developing both a theoretical understanding and a practical capability in students regarding ethics and sustainability in organisations.

This subject contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

  • Business practice oriented skills

  • Attitudes and values

Teaching and learning strategies

The subject will be taught using a combination of lectures and tutorials. The lectures provide the structure of the topic area, discussion of the theory and introduce students to critical issues and controversies. Tutorials provide students with a forum to apply, develop and deepen their understanding of the topic area covered in the lectures through discussion of specific cases, issues and examples. Students are required to complete preparatory work in the form of academic readings, videos and other forms of media prior to their attendance at the weekly lectures.

All students will be provided with the opportunity for initial feedback on their performance in the subject during the first six weeks of the semester, for example, through tutorial exercises, draft assignments and other assessment methods. Further feedback will be provided in relation to submitted assessment tasks.

Content (topics)

  • Ethics and Management in the 21st Century

  • Ethics, Leadership and Justice

  • Organizational Culture and Ethics

  • Ethics, Diversity and Discrimination

  • Ethics and the Employment Relationship

  • Managing for Sustainability in a Global Context

  • The Business Logic of Organizational Sustainability

  • Compliance and Compliance Plus

  • Strategic Proactivity

  • Ideal and New Business Models

  • Democratic Business Ethics, Sustainability and Civil Society


Assessment task 1: Point of View Journal


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 3 and 4

This addresses program learning objectives(s):

4.1 and 4.2

Weight: 50%

Each short essay is a Maximum of 500 words, excluding references.

Assessment task 2: Individual Case Study Analysis and Report


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 3 and 4

Weight: 50%

3000 words (+/- 200 words) excluding Cover Sheet, Table of Contents, Appendices and References.

Minimum requirements

  • Students are required to attend 80% of all tutorials.
  • Students must achieve at least 50% of the subject’s total marks.

Required texts

There is no required textbook for this subject.

If you wish to refer to a general text on Business Ethics and Sustainability, we recommend:

  • Crane, A. and Matten, D. (2016) Business ethics: managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization, 4th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The major international academic journals in business ethics are:

Recommended texts

Beauchamp, T. and Bowie, N. (2001) (eds) Ethical Theory and Business, 6th Edn, London: Prentice Hall.

Benn, S. and Dunphy, D. (2007) (eds) Corporate Governance and Sustainability, London: Routledge

Blowfield, M. (2013) Business and Sustainability, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Breton, A. & Wintrobe, R. (1986) Bureaucracy of Murder Revisited, Journal of Political Economy, 94 (5): 905-926

Crane, A. and Matten D (2004) Business Ethics: A European Perspective, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Crane, A., Matten, D. and Spence, L.J. (2014) Corporate Social Responsibility: Readings and Cases in a Global Context, 2nd Edn, London: Routledge

Clarke, T. & Branson, D. (2012) (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Corporate Governance, London: SAGE

Clarke, T. & dela Rama M. (2008) (eds) Fundamentals of Corporate Governance, London: SAGE

---. (2006) (eds) Corporate Governance and Globalization, London: SAGE

Frederick, R (2002) (ed.) A Companion to Business Ethics, Oxford: Blackwell

Johnson, C. (2012) Organizational Ethics : A Practical Approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE

Kvale, S. (2008) Doing Interviews, London: SAGE

MacIntyre, A. (1981) After Virtue, London: Duckworth.

MacLagan, P. (1998) Management and Morality, London: Sage.

Mele, D.(2011) Management Ethics: Placing Ethics at the Core of Good Management, London: Palgrave MacMillan

Parker, M. (1998) (ed) Ethics and Organizations, London: Sage.

Clegg, S., & Rhodes, C. (2006) Management Ethics: Contemporary Contexts. London: Routledge.

Sher, G. (2012) Ethics: essential readings in moral theory. New York : Routledge.

Solomon, R. and Martin, C. (2004) Above the Bottom Line, 3rd Edn, London: Wadsworth.

White, J. (2000) (ed) Contemporary Moral Problems, 6th Edn, London: Wadsworth.

Yin, R.K. (2013) Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE