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This module presents the ethical issues and concepts associated with research in graduate school. Its content and exercises focus on business research, that is, research carried out in business organizations and research carried out in graduate programs in business schools. You begin with three cases: Tuskegee, Enron, and Baltimore. The first establishes the need for research ethics. The second introduces complexities that market-driven activities bring to research. The Baltimore case poses the question, not of whether market forces distort and deflect scientific research, but of whether government and legal forces conspire to distort and deflect the exercise of scientific research skills. After looking at these cases, you will examine the Belmont Report and the basic moral principles and responsibilities in research ethics that it clearly outlines. These principles stand up remarkably well when carried to the realm of business; but there is still a sense in which they need reformulation and clarification to become operative in the context of the different moral ecologies provided by business. Third, you will apply the principles of the Belmont Report to famous (and notorious) research carried out in social psychology on obedience to authority. In a role-playing activity, you will imagine that you are a member of an IRB (Institutional Review Board) charged with evaluating Milgram’s research proposal that justifies the experiments he is about to carry out to generate information on how far normal individuals will go, against conscience, on the basis of authority. Someone role-playing as Milgram will present the experiment’s protocol, estimate the damage it will bring to the participating human subjects, and outline the expected results. You will use the principles of respect, beneficence, and justice as outlined in the Belmont Report to evaluate Milgram’s proposal and decide if the experiment, as outlined, should take place. Finally, you will have a chance to reflect on a series of issues that arise in research carried out in the area where markets, technology, and government intersect. How does competition drive, direct, and even detect research? Does the profit motive distort or corrupt research results? Do markets motivate, filter, or deflect research and progress in scientific and technological research? Can undue or excessive interference by the government undo research efforts?


Ethics Education

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Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

Funding for this project comes from the National Science Foundation through grant number DRL 0629377.

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