Vices we love: Can we all just say 'duh' and get it over with?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Can we all just say 'duh' and get it over with?

Wonders never cease...

M.B.A.s: The Biggest Cheaters
By Thomas Kostigen

Graduate business students take their cue from corporate scandals
(you think?)

The corporate scandals that have plagued Wall Street in recent history are setting a fine example for young students looking to make their mark in the business world: They are learning to cheat with the best of them.
(Totally what they need.)

Students seeking their masters of business administration degree admit cheating more than any other type of student, from law to liberal arts.
(You can say that again- and you did!)

"We have found that graduate students in general are cheating at an alarming rate and business-school students are cheating even more than others," concludes a study by the Academy of Management Learning and Education of 5,300 students in the U.S. and Canada.
(People do studies about this?)

Many of these students reportedly believe cheating is an accepted practice in business. More than half (56%) of M.B.A. candidates say they cheated in the past year. For the study, cheating was defined as plagiarizing, copying other students' work and bringing prohibited materials into exams.

"To us that means that business-school faculty and administrators must do something, because doing nothing simply reinforces the belief that high levels of cheating are commonplace and acceptable," say the authors of the academy report, Donald McCabe of Rutgers University, Kenneth Butterfield of Washington State University and Linda Klebe Trevino at Penn State University.
(They ARE doing something- they're letting everyone know that cheating works.)

However, what's holding many professors back from taking action on cheaters is the fear of litigation. To that end, the academic world is becoming much more like the business world where those who walk with a heavy legal stick can swat others out of the way; it may be time to impose a whistleblower statute for students and teachers.
(Alex P. Keating where are you?)

Yes, it seems to have come to that. With 54% of graduate engineering students, 50% of students in the physical sciences, 49% of medical and other health-care students, 45% of law students, 43% of graduate students in the arts and 39% of graduate students in the social sciences and humanities readily admitting to cheating, something must be done to correct course.
(Notice how the science and business guys- the ones who are the best paid and the most in demand- cheat the most? This sure sends me a message- I gotta write it down on my crib sheet so I don't forget.)

McCabe notes that many more students probably cheat than admit in the study. He and the others recommend a series of efforts based upon notions of ethical community-building be put into practice at the graduate-school level. The essence of an ethical community is that by doing wrong -- cheating in this case -- all of the stakeholders in the community are harmed, not just the wrongdoer.
(Lemme channel Middle America: "Socialist Scum!")

Curriculum and education go along with the community-building, so there is greater awareness of actions and ramifications as well.

In the real business world efforts are being made to create greater transparency and show shareholders, for instance, that they are a community of stakeholders with a common vested interest. This should be obvious, but to many investors it isn't. Profit is achieved in a vacuum and the awareness of fellow shareholders (and their actions) is relatively nil.
(Ignorance, bliss, yadda yadda.)

Shareholder resolutions are items around which bands of investors can unite. But even while resolutions are on the rise only a minority of shareholders bother to vote on them.
(Excuse me. I seem to have forgotten giving a damn.)

In other words, shareholders, much like professors these days, largely choose to look the other way when it comes time to curb abuse. That is until after the fact when all those M.B.A.s get caught cheating in the real world.
(And even after that.)

Honor code

More has to be done to enforce ethical codes well before the bad act occurs. By then it is too late. Teaching graduate students that ethics matters in business should be a matter of course, not a direction to avoid.
(Business student: "If I give you $6,000 will I pass the ethics course?")

Faculty, the authors say, should "engage students in an ongoing dialogue about academic integrity that begins with recruiting, continues in orientation sessions and initiation ceremonies, and continues throughout the program." It may also include initiating an honor code, preferably one that emphasizes the promotion of integrity among students rather than the detection and punishment of dishonesty.
(Integrity? Honor? Yawn...)

Promote the good not the bad. Yet at the top of those companies most ensnared in ethical scandal sat a chief executive with an M.B.A.
(Show me the money!)

Graduate students in journalism weren't singled out in the study. Interestingly, however, last week Newsweek announced that it is teaming with Kaplan Inc., the education service provider, to offer an online business degree called Kaplan University/Newsweek MBA.
(Awesome. Plagarism should fit in nicely.)

Ethics in journalism meet ethics in business, and Styx be crossed.
(Dude, what are you smoking? 'Cuz I want some.)

Mr. Kostigen got paid to write this fresh new story. I can't believe it. In other news Greenland might get a bit chilly in January and you're advised not to go skinny-dipping in the Ganges.


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