The financialisation of business ethics

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Abstract

Business schools have become implicated in the widespread demonisation of the financial classes. By educating those held most responsible for the crisis – financial traders and speculators – they are said to have produced ruthlessly talented graduates who have ambition in abundance but little sense for social responsibility or ethics. This ethical lack thrives upon the trading floor within a compelling critique of the complicity of the pedagogy of the business school with the financial crisis of the global economy. An ethical turn within the curriculum is now widely encouraged as a counteractive force. Within this paper, however, we argue that taking this ethical turn is not enough. For business ethicists to learn from the financial crisis, the crisis' legacy needs to be taken account of, and financialisation needs to be taken seriously. Pedagogical reform cannot bracket itself off from the crisis as if it were coincidental with or separate from it. Post-crisis pedagogy must rather take the fact that it is requested now, in light of the crisis, as its very point of departure. The financial crisis must not be understood as something to be resisted in the name of Business Ethics. Instead, the financial crisis must be understood as the very foundation for contemporary Business Ethics in particular and for contemporary business and management education more generally.

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