The Reformation of Business Education: Purposes and Objectives

In Proceedings of 2011 Conference of the New Zealand Assoication of Applied Business Education. Nelson, New Zealand, 11 October 2011. New Zealand Association of Applied Business Education (2011)
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Business education is at a critical juncture. How are we to justify the curriculum in undergraduate business awards in Aotearoa New Zealand? This essay suggests a philosophical framework for the analysis the business curriculum in Western countries. This framework helps us to see curriculum in a context of global academic communities and national needs. It situates the business degree in the essential tension which modernity (Western metaphysics) creates and which is expressed in an increasingly globalised economy. The tension is between those who insist that the degree is to serve modernity and those who hope that it may contribute to a new era of justice and harmony with nature. One critical battle ground for the business curriculum is the subject Business Ethics. The business ethics curriculum often indicates the intention of the business ethics degree itself. Kant's distinction between heteronomy (rule following) and autonomy (making your own decisions) provides us with a means to judge the purposes of business ethics courses: there are courses which seek to produce reliable and compliant (heteronomous) employees, and there are those which seek to produce independent creative (autonomous) human beings. The question for this conference is: what do we as business educators see as our task?

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Robert Keith Shaw
University of Auckland (PhD)


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