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Business Studies: Ethical Dilemmas by Dr Pamela Robinson, The University of Birmingham

30th April 2013 @ 12:30 - 13:30

Aim of the Lecture

The key aim of this lecture is to engage students in the debate on ethical standards in companies and how best to develop fairer ways to conduct business internationally. Ethical trade is of interest to students learning about the processes of globalisation and the growing inequality between developed and developing countries. This lecture offers a unique opportunity for students to engage in the issue of social responsibility, fair trade and business ethics.

Overview of the Lecture

Debates on business ethics are not new, but more recently the subject has attracted the attention of major corporations, governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), international agencies, trade union federations, consulting firms and global civil society. This lecture will introduce ideas and controversies that are central to business ethics. In essence, business ethics is concerned with what is considered to be morally right and wrong in terms of the way business conducts itself. This is particularly so, in terms of how the more powerful players – large corporations – impact social and environmental conditions in the countries they source product from and the markets in which they operate. A key question raised in the lecture is whether business should be held accountable for ethical responsibilities beyond the maximisation of profit, and indeed, whether it is possible to be a business operating in a competitive market and still be ethical. However, one of the dilemmas for consumers is that they want great value for money – low cost and high quality – demands that can lead to the exploitation of workers around the world. Such issues will be raised during the lecture following the line of questioning detailed below:

 Major retailers report huge profits every year, and in-store promotions and buy-one-get-one deals continue to be offered in our local supermarket. We have become used to low priced, good quality food and clothing in this country, but who pays the price for this?

 Or on the other hand, do increased levels of consumption help to provide jobs and greater security for those employed in producing the goods we cherish and wish to buy?

 Is there really a ‘dilemma’ – do cheap products come at a price – that is potentially poor working conditions? Because, it can be equally argued, that consumer needs help to drive trade, which results in more jobs and the flow of money in the economy of developing countries.

Lecturer Profile: Dr Pamela Robinson


Suitable for: Year 12/Year 13

Preparation/Pre-reading: There is an opportunity for schools to participate by asking questions and submitting them prior to the lecture, which can then be expanded upon and debated in an interactive way during the lecture.Please email questions by Wednesday 24th April.


30th April 2013
12:30 - 13:30
Event Category: