Applied Legal and Ethical Decision Making for Managers, Professionals and Executives

Commerce & Business Administration
Course Code
BUSN 4490
Semester Length
15 Weeks X 4 Hours per Week = 60 Hours
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course is intended for senior students in the applied business degree programs. It is an application driven course that will focus on real world cases and examine thereby both the theory and practice of legal, moral and social decision making in the 21st century. The emphasis, however, will be on practice as opposed to theory. The course will begin with a brief introduction to the various leading theories of business issues in this business area, and then focus on the process of how managerial decisions are made or not made. The students will be introduced to several models to apply and hopefully emulate in their personal careers, followed by an intensive look at numerous real world cases that will challenge and compel students to examine their own values, morals and choices in life. Cases will be drawn from the private, public and non-profit sectors of our society and economy. The last quarter of the course will focus on the role of leadership in the successful implementation of management decision making and practice. It is highly recommended that students complete BUSN 2420 or BUSN 3730 before taking this course.
Course Content
  1. The basics of moral reasoning in the context of business ethics; the distinctions between and overlapping of morality and law.
  2. Ethical organizational behaviour and outsiders: social and shareholder governance and accountability, environmental issues, advertising issues, governmental and community relations, consumer protection, and international cultural differences.
  3. Ethical organizational behaviour and insiders: the role of whistleblowers, employee and employer conflicts over power, discrimination and recognition of human rights, health and safety issues, respect for the law, and the development of employee autonomy, success and happiness.
  4. Ethics for professionals: the role of codes of conduct, legal sanctions and protections, conflicts of interest, ethical issues unique to our leading professions (e.g. auditing issues for accountants, taxation compliance or avoidance, etc.), governmental regulation.
  5. The role of leadership in the ethical process: various leadership theories and their manifestations in our world; charismatic and ‘hero’ leadership models, transformational and values based leadership, and Robert Greenleaf’s ‘Servant Leadership’ concept.
Learning Activities

Lectures, seminar discussions, case analyses, role playing, interactive exercises, documentary videos and formal presentations. 

This is a fourth year seminar class usually completed by a degree student in the last or penultimate term. Higher levels of student preparation, commitment, presentation and participation will be expected and will form an integral part of the learning experience of this capstone-type course.  Student presentation and interactive discussions will form an integral part of the learning experience.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on the following in accordance with Douglas College policy:

Quizzes, written assignments  10%
Participation  10
Mid term exam  25
Formal written case analysis  20-30
Presentation of case analysis   5
 Written research paper  20-30

Students may conduct research as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans, which can require obtaining Informed Consent from participants and getting the approval of the Douglas College Research Ethics Board prior to conducting the research.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  1. describe and demonstrate knowledge of the leading ethical theories introduced in this course;
  2. utilize a decision making model to explain and understand how an ethical decision is made;
  3. think critically, on a continuing basis, about the moral issues surrounding business and professional practice and imbedded in all executive decision making;
  4. apply ethical decision making models to real world business, public sector and professional moral issues, controversies and dilemmas facing practitioners in a 21st century organization;
  5. explain the ethical decision making processes, or lack thereof, that occurred in the numerous cases studied in depth in this course; 
  6. demonstrate an understanding of the role and importance, for both leaders and followers, to develop a moral compass that will guide and influence them in their future careers.
  7. recognize and develop the practices upon which moral leadership is derived.
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students

Texts will be updated periodically.  One or more of the following will be used:

Beauchamp, Tom. Case Studies in Business, Society and Ethics (Latest Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Brookes, Leonard J.Business & Professional Ethics for Directors, Executives & Accountants (Latest Edition). Thomson


Crane, Matten. Business Ethics: Managing Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability in the Age of Globalization. (Latest Edition). Oxford.

Fisher, Lovell, Valero-Silva. Business Ethics and Values. (Latest Edition). Pearson.

Greenleaf, Robert. "The Servant as Leader." (1991). Robert K. Greenleaf Center.

Hartman, Laura P. Perspectives in Business Ethics (Latest Edition). McGraw Hill.

Newton, Lisa, and Schmidt, David P. Wake-Up Calls. (Latest Edition) Thomson.

Sexty. Canadian Business and Society Ethics and Responsibilities. (Latest Edition). McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

Shaw, Barry, Panagiotou. Moral Issues in Business. (Canadian Edition). Nelson.

Wexler, Mark N. Confronting Moral Worlds: Understanding Business Ethics. (Latest Edition). Prentice Hall Canada.

 Handouts of the instructor and such other texts as approved by the department.



BLAW 1320 and ENGL 1130 (with a C grade or better)


Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses


Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for BUSN 4490
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) No credit
Langara College (LANG) LANG BUSM 2XXX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU BUS 2XX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU BUSI 3XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV BUS 3XX (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC COM 3XX (1.5)

Course Offerings

Summer 2024