Ethical and Professional Judgment by malj


									                              Ethical and Professional Judgment

In defining this Student Learning Outcome, California Lutheran University states:
:      Students will:
     Understand ethical principles within their fields
     Apply professional standards and ethical principles in making decisions

The School of Business at California Lutheran University adds:

“Business ethics is the study of what constitutes right and wrong, or good and bad,
human conduct in a business context.”1 There are both business ethics and professional
ethics. The term “business ethics” is broad and refers to interactions with and on behalf
of the public and within a business organization. “Professional ethics” is a term applied
to a set of rules, guiding principles and expectations applied to proper and “right”
activities and decision making for a given profession – dentists, doctors, lawyers,
accountants, social workers, nurses, etc. Most professions publish, offer continuing
professional education and enforce a particular ethical code. Ethical and professional
judgment is the highest standard of thought, philosophy and action of a group. Violations
of the prescribed practices and guidelines are considered a lapse in meeting legal and
social responsibilities of that group. Violations to any code of conduct threatens the
reputation of the entire group of professionals and is often punished or, at the very least,
offending individuals are censured.

Ethical and professional standards and rules of conduct are published, the subject of
professional entrance exams in many business disciplines (CMA, CPA, CFM, CFA, Law,
etc.) and are mentioned in mission statements and included in most university curricula.
The following “code of conduct” summarizes the expectations of members of the
Association for Investment Management and Research.2
     “Act with integrity, competence, dignity, and in an ethical manner when dealing
        with the public, clients, prospects, employers, employees and fellow members.
     “Practice and encourage others to practice in a professional and ethical manner
        that will reflect credit on members and their profession.
     “Strive to maintain and improve their competence and the competence of others in
        the profession.
     “Use reasonable care and exercise independent professional judgment.”

While these are fundamental tenets for ethical and professional behavior, students need to
be formally taught underlying rules. While it is difficult to “teach values,” it is
imperative that students are modeled and mentored as well as informed in such a way that
an appropriate value system emerges, serving them well in their careers. This often
begins with exposure to rules governing academic honesty and intolerance for plagiarism
and cheating in their course work. Beyond that, as students develop an appreciation for
the importance of honesty in their own actions and work, they learn to discriminate

    Moral Issues in Business, 4th edition, William Shaw and Vincent Barry, chapter 1, page 3.
    Ethical and Professional Standards CFA, Level 1, PassPro for CFA, page 4.
between ethical and unethical behaviors, they learn to anticipate consequences, then learn
rules and ways of dealing with aberrations among supervisors, peers and subordinates.

In many professions, especially where licensure is required, continuing education with a
focus on ethical standards is necessary for an individual to maintain their status as a
qualified practitioner. Typical examples are Certified Public Accountant (CPA),
Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Financial Manager (CFM) and
attorneys. In recent years, required continuing professional education specifically on
ethics and professional practice has become more prevalent due to well-publicized
violations of trust which resulted in widespread damage to stakeholders of various

Morality and etiquette are closely related to ethical and professional behavior. However,
etiquette is usually referred to as a custom or rule of polite demeanor. It follows local
conventions of human interaction. Morality is a collection of attitudes guiding one’s own
actions, reactions and decisions. “… many things influence us in the moral principles
we accept: our early upbringing, the behavior of those around us, the explicit and
implicit standards of our culture, our own experiences, and our critical reflections of
those experiences..”3

Students (in their chosen course of study) will be exposed to cultural and philosophical
differences that provide an educational background and the ability to make informed
decisions as they develop in their careers. They will learn what is expected of them as
“life long learners” to keep themselves current in their profession.

Level of Assessment (based on Bloom’s Taxonomy4:)

        Level 1: Knowledge and Comprehension
       At this level of knowing, students should be able to recognize the terminology from
       literature/discussion of “Ethical and Professional Judgment.” They would see value
       in developing those skills, and begin to identify relevant information for thinking
       through their own attitudes and values.
        Level 2: Application and Analysis
       At this level of knowing, students would be able to recognize and apply ethical rules
       and principles to solve a problem, make recommendations or analyze options. They
       would be able to predict consequences and results. In their field of study, they would
       have an appreciation for the particular rules and expectations of that professional code
       of conduct.
        Level 3: Synthesis and Evaluation
       Achievement at this level would include an ability to take a holistic view of ethics
       and principles. This view would include the use of morals and values in decision
       making, yet distinguishing those from ethics. They would be able to evaluate, argue
       for or against changed codes of ethics in response to changes in the business

    Moral Issues in Business, 4th edition, William Shaw and Vincent Barry, chapter 1, page 9.
   environment. They would be able to incorporate ethical and professional judgment
   across their personal and business roles.

For student assessment, sample questions and a more detailed look at what is expected at
all 6 levels of knowledge in Bloom’s Taxonomy, this link is helpful.

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