Ethical or Not? Assessing the effectiveness of Giving Voice to Values as a course in Ashesi University College

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ABSTRACT

This paper seeks to evaluate the pedagogy of ethics instruction at Ashesi University College with an aim of recommending methods to adopt from the perspective of alumni of Ashesi University to adequately prepare graduates to deal with values conflict situations in corporate Ghana.

Interviews were conducted for fifteen alumni of the university from the 2009 and 2014 graduating year groups. Data retrieved were manually analyzed using thematic analysis. Results showed that there has been a considerable positive change in perceptions of alumni about ethics and ethical action. Results also showed that the major difference between individuals that experience the Giving Voice to Values course, and those that did not was seeking third parties for assistance in the face of values conflict situations. Though the Ashesi education has contributed to the ethical personalities of its graduates some gaps in teaching ethics were being identified.

It is recommended that Ashesi develops a four-year Giving Voice to Values curriculum to ensure the effectiveness of teaching skills in ethical action..

Keywords: Ethics, values conflict situations, Giving Voice to values

Table of Contents

List of Tables………………………………………………………………………………………………………. viii

List of Figures……………………………………………………………………………………………………… viii

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………………………………. 1

  1. The Ashesi Ethics Culture………………………………………………………………………………. 3
    1. Motivations/Purpose for the Study…………………………………………………………………… 4
    1. Significance of the Study……………………………………………………………………………….. 4
    1. Theoretical Framework………………………………………………………………………………….. 5
    1. Research Method………………………………………………………………………………………….. 6

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW……………………………………………………………………… 8

CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY……………………………………………………………………………. 24

3.8.1. Summary………………………………………………………………………………………………… 30

CHAPTER 4: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION………………………………………………………….. 30

4.3. Value Conflict Situations in Workplace………………………………………………………….. 34

4.6.5 Values conflict situations are not always financial……………………………………… 54

4.6.6. Gone never to be remembered!!……………………………………………………………… 54

4.7. Suggestions for improving the pedagogy of ethics……………………………………………. 56

4.8 Discussions and Analysis……………………………………………………………………………… 58

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION……………………………………….. 61

5.1 Major Findings……………………………………………………………………………………………. 61

5.2. Recommendations………………………………………………………………………………………. 62

WORKS CITED…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 66

APPENDIX…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 70

Appendix A: Consent Forms………………………………………………………………………………. 70

Appendix B: Interview Guide For GVV Alumni……………………………………………………. 72

Appendix C: Interview Guide for Non-GVV Alumni……………………………………………… 76

List of Tables

Table 1 Demographic characteristics of research participants…………………………………… 31

Table 2 Motivation for Ethical Behaviour……………………………………………………………….. 43

Table 3 Examining Case Study Responses………………………………………………………………. 47

List of Figures

Figure 1. Defining the GVV term “Values conflict situation”…………………………………… 34

Figure 2. Motivation for Ethical Behaviour……………………………………………………………. 44

Figure 3. 2009 Ashesi Graduates Reaction to values conflict situations…………………….. 50

Figure 4. 2014 Ashesi Graduates reaction to values conflict situations………………………. 50

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

Education is the art of making man ethical, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel once said. This profound statement can explicity be referred to as the goal of Ashesi Univerisity College. A university can label itself as one seeking to create an ethical system or never make it a priority at all. Though it may subscribe to academic integrity, it might not necessarily pursue it. A university in Africa that has labeled itself as one of Africa’s leading universities aiming to create a culture of ethics and integrity in and out of the classroom is Ashesi University College. Armed with pillars of scholarship, leadership and citizenship, the university is making strides towards it is mission to educate “a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa; to cultivate within our students the critical thinking skills, the concern for others and the courage it will take to transform a continent.”

Ethics has always being a global issue. The rise and fall of corporations like Enron and Arthur Anderson was as a result of ethics. Scandals are solid proofs of the collapse of ethical behavior all around the globe. The current leak of documents from the Panamaian company, Mossack Fonseca which revealed cases of money laundering, tax evation and sanction dodge is a prove of the constant reoccurrence unethical acts in the world today. The 2009 economic meltdown was an issue of ethics and its consequences on households and organizations was enormous. It caused individuals to lose millions of dollars due to investment in below investment-grade instruments which were rated as A-grade by rating agencies. Africa is not left out of the cycle of unethical behaviours, corruption is indicated by Transperency International with most corrupt countries situated in Africa makes ethics very necessary on the continent. R.S Peter and Warnick’s ideals that to education, hopes

are attached that individuals become better than they were (Warnick, 2007) It is therefore necessary to evaluate the accomplishment of hopes attached to the Ashesi education by evaluating the effectiveness of a college curriculum seeking to change this order of unethical cultures by establishing courses, codes and policies that cultivates an ethical culture imbibing ethics and concern for others as principles for its students. Ethics is vital in the Ghanaian corporate environment; a research aimed at evaluating the pedagogy of ethics in Ashesi to ensure it is improvement in order to create ethical adults for the Ghanaian corporate environment is a step in the right direction towards solving the global issue of ethics.

This thesis seeks to evaluate Ashesi University College’s pedagogical methods of ethics instruction by evaluating the effectiveness of the Giving Voice to Values (GVV) course to ascertain if graduates utilize skills learned in the course in dealing with values conflict situations in the workplace. Ashesi University College, the first liberal arts college in West Africa, adopted an integrated approach to ethics education in its curriculum since its inception in 2002. The ethics curriculum underwent a major change as the Giving Voice to Values curriculum originally developed by Dr. Mary Gentile in partnership with the Aspen Institute, along with the Yale School of Management, for use in American MBA program was integrated into the curriculum in the Fall semester in 2010 as a compulsory ethics seminar for freshmen (Hallberg Adu, 2010). This paper would reveal the differences in reactions of graduates who enrolled in GVV as a course towards value-conflict situation in their workplaces in comparison to the reactions of graduates who did not enroll in this course. The research questions guiding this paper are below;

Research question one (RQ1): Is there an association between the way Ashesi graduates who experienced the GVV course react to values conflict situations in the workplace compared with those who did not experience the course. Research question two (RQ2): From the perspective of Ashesi University graduates, how can the way ethics is taught at university be improved in order to better graduates to handle values conflict situations in corporate Ghana.