This module is a resource for lecturers
Exercises and case studies
This section contains suggestions for in-class and pre-class educational exercises, while a post-class assignment for assessing student understanding of the Module is suggested in a separate section.
The exercises in this section are most appropriate for classes of up to 50 students, where students can be easily organized into small groups in which they discuss cases or conduct activities before group representatives provide feedback to the entire class. Although it is possible to have the same small group structure in large classes comprising a few hundred students, it is more challenging and the lecturer might wish to adapt facilitation techniques to ensure sufficient time for group discussions as well as providing feedback to the entire class. The easiest way to deal with the requirement for small group discussion in a large class is to ask students to discuss the issues with the four or five students sitting close to them. Given time limitations, not all groups will be able to provide feedback in each exercise. It is recommended that the lecturer makes random selections and tries to ensure that all groups get the opportunity to provide feedback at least once during the session. If time permits, the lecturer could facilitate a discussion in plenary after each group has provided feedback.
All exercises in this section are appropriate for both graduate and undergraduate students. However, as students' prior knowledge and exposure to these issues vary widely, decisions about appropriateness of exercises should be based on their educational and social context. The lecturer is encouraged to relate and connect each exercise to the key issues of the Module.
Pre-class exercise: What do we know about business integrity?
This pre-class exercise could be completed as part of the class preparation process. Before attending the class, ask students to complete one or more of the video-modules associated with the e-learning tool " Fight against Corruption".
The video-modules, which are freely available online in over 20 languages, explore some of the ethical dilemmas that are typical in the business world. Some of the issues raised therein are also covered in the present Module, such as a company's gift policy. During the class, the lecturer could refer to the videos when discussing certain issues. In addition, the lecturer could start the class by raising questions about the ethical dilemmas reflected in the videos.
This e-learning tool is a joint product of UNODC and UNGC. It uses six interactive video-modules to further the audience's understanding of the UNGC 10th principle against corruption and the United Nations Convention against Corruption as it applies to the private sector. The tool targets private sector actors, and can also be useful for students taking the present Module. Each video only lasts about five minutes, providing a quick and effective way of learning about business integrity. Students who complete all six video-modules will receive a computer-generated certificate, which could be an incentive that increases their interest in the learning process.
Exercise 1: Mapping business contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals
This exercise aims to familiarize students with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which serve as a global framework for efforts of governments, businesses, civil society and other relevant stakeholders to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. The lecturer can get the class, individually or in small groups, to develop an understanding of the SDGs and of potential contributions and impact that businesses may have. The aim of the exercise is not that students present a comprehensive assessment of business contributions to SDGs but rather that they understand the concept and can make use of the SDGs as a framework for responsible and ethical business conduct. Furthermore, students are asked to reflect on potential adverse effects of doing business and how they can be mitigated.
The lecturer may choose to provide an overview of the SDGs and the context in which they were adopted. Background information on the Sustainable Development Agenda is available here. In-depth information on the 17 goals is available here.
First, the lecturer splits the students into small groups and assigns them two or three SDGs depending on total class size. Second, students are asked to do some quick online research on the goals they have been assigned to. In the groups, students will discuss how business can contribute to their SDGs and what may be adverse effects of doing business. How can these adverse effects be mitigated? Students are asked to think of practical examples that demonstrate the importance of ethical business conduct for the company itself and for the fulfilment of the SDGs (15-20 minutes). Third, each group is asked to give a three-minute presentation of the outcome of their discussions, focusing on the rationale of their SDGs and on how business can contribute to it and mitigate potential adverse effects of doing business.
Exercise 2: Role play: convince your supervisor that ethics pays
In this exercise, the lecturer encourages students to consider the business case for integrity and ethics, to reflect on concrete examples of how following a path of integrity and ethics can be good for a business, and to convince an audience about this. The exercise will help students to internalize the message of this Module and will be of practical use at a later stage when they carry the spirit of business integrity and ethics into their workplaces.
For more information on the action-based approach of this exercise, lecturers can see Integrity and Ethics Module 7 (Strategies for Ethical Action).
First, the lecturer divides students into small groups and asks them to brainstorm on how following a path for integrity and ethics can be positive for business (e.g. talent attraction, increased customer retention, benefits for brand value) and to think of possible consequences for lack of integrity in business (e.g. bad press, fines, termination of business relationships, lack of efficiency). The lecturer asks each group of students to pick a business (e.g. IT company, retail, pharmaceutical company) and to give real life examples derived from the business context (10-15 minutes). To internalize the arguments, students are asked to engage in a role play (10 minutes). In the role play, one student is the employee that tries to convince the supervisor (the other student) that there is a business case for integrity and ethics that outweighs costs. Finally, a couple of groups can present their role play in front of the rest of the class.
Exercise 3: Case study: analysis of codes
The aim of this exercise is to have students analyse codes of ethics or codes of conduct to develop an initial understanding of the language in which codes are written and how they translate into practice. In the first part of the exercise, the lecturer should explain what codes are and present some examples to the students, highlighting the different components and how they fit together. Students will then be split up into small groups to analyse the codes and identify main components. The set of sample questions included in the lecturer guidelines may serve as instructions for students (15 minutes). Then the lecturer will ask the students to share their findings with the whole class (5-10 minutes). A discussion of the reasons behind the inclusion of various components of the codes would bring up the need for an alignment with the core values of the business and with basic ethical principles (5-10 minutes).
For the first part of the exercise, the lecturer can print out the suggested codes (of the India-based Tata Group, the Brazil-based Duratex, the UK-based GlaxoSmithKline and ExxonMobil, and the US-based Spectris) beforehand for each team or send the links to the students so that they can access them easily in class when they need to for this exercise. Lecturers can decide to use newer or more context-relevant codes, e.g. by going to the websites of the largest listed companies in their own country.
- Check if the code contains an introduction that may help employees to understand the reasons behind it.
- Check if such an introduction is aligned to the mission and or vision of the corporation.
- Check if the code includes provisions that protect the interests of different stakeholders - e.g. employees, government, competition, communities, shareholders, customers, etc. - and the common good of society.
- Check what the code says, if anything, about conflicts of interest, gifting, questionable payments, etc.
- Assess to what extent the overall language and tone of the code makes it easy to understand and implement.
Exercise 4: How to communicate codes?
In this exercise, students are asked to go back to their groups and take a second look at the codes they have already analysed. The difficulty with codes of conduct or ethics is that businesses need to make sure that they do not only exist on paper but are also implemented in practice. The aim of this exercise is to consider how the codes analysed in Exercise 3 contribute to the building and implementation of a successful integrity and ethics programme. The lecturer encourages students to choose a few key elements and come up with ideas on how the rules and regulations could be effectively communicated to employees. They also present first prototypes on how to communicate the codes, e.g. posters, short role plays, comics, trainings, employee quiz.
This exercise is a continuation of Exercise 3 in the sense that the students look at the same codes but from another perspective. In the previous exercise, students explore the components of the code. In this exercise, they delve into the underlying reasons for each component and consider how some elements of organizational culture can support the implementation of a code. First, students are split into teams and each team is requested to discuss and prepare a prototype (20 minutes). The lecturer should encourage students to be creative in developing first prototypes such as posters, short role plays, comics, trainings, quizzes. Second, a couple of groups can be chosen to present their prototypes (10 minutes). Finally, a class discussion will focus on practical insights gained during the exercise and the importance of communicating the principles enshrined in codes to employees (10 minutes). Lecturers can point out that leading businesses are increasingly demanding codes of conducts or ethics from suppliers or may even have codes of conduct for the supply chain. How codes can be implemented in small or medium-sized enterprises is a potential topic for an in-depth discussion.
The lecturer can format this exercise as another set of oral presentations or decide to make it an interactive session.