Professors

Richard E. Powers (Boston College)

Schedule

Tuesday
From 15:15
to 16:45
Thursday
From 15:15
to 16:45

 

Course description

Through an examination of various substantive topics we will compare and contrast legal and ethical standards as they exist in the United States with those of other countries throughout the world. Special emphasis will be placed on a comparison of selected issues as they arise and are addressed in Eastern and Western cultures. Among the topics to be considered in connection therewith are the following:

  1. Law and Ethics - an Introduction: “Ethics” defined; the relationship between ethics and the law; freedom versus responsibility; theoretical bases for ethical decision making; corporate governance; corporate social responsibility as strategy; Business Ethics- East vs. West, myths and realities; an international perspective.
  2. The Duty of Loyalty: Whistleblowing; employment-at-will; Sarbanes-Oxley and the corporate whistleblower; public employees and freedom of speech; False Claims Act and qui tam whistleblowers; global norms and internal corporate communication.
  3. Privacy and Technology: Surveillance at work; the value of privacy; lifestyle control; testing; social media and privacy; Europe, Asia and the US compared; privacy under the US Constitution; privacy in genetic information.
  4. Valuing Diversity: Stereotyping vs. inclusion; equal protection; the Civil Rights Act of 1964; work/life balance; reasonable accommodations of disabled workers v. undue hardships on employers.
  5. Workers’ Rights as Human Rights/Health and Safety in the Workplace: Confronting risk in the work environment; Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); perspectives on risk in the workplace; corporate criminal liability; compensation for workplace injury and illness; safety concerns in the global economy.
  6. Global Climate Change, Responsibility and Survival: Environmental regulation and the new environmental challenges; environmentalists, scientists, energy interests, and politics; ethics and the U.S. response to climate change; corporate social responsibility; corporate governance and shareholder activism; eminent domain; philosophical perspectives; biodiversity and habitat preservation.
  7. Marketing and Technology: Choice and manipulation; free speech and commercial speech; advertising and economics; federal versus industry self-regulation; children, obesity, and marketing junk food; direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising; the branding of culture; global issues.
  8. Allocating Risks and Responsibilities/Products Liability: Government regulation of product safety; evolution of products liability law; the tort of strict products liability; punitive damages; contract law; contract law and tort law; an alternative approach; the U.S. compared to Japan and Europe; Products Liability Law of China
  9. Intellectual Property: Ownership, creativity, and innovation; copyright; misappropriation; trademark; patents; trade secrets; global intellectual property rights; human rights and intellectual property.

 

Learning outcomes of the course

We will examine the legal and ethical challenges faced by individuals, companies and countries in today’s global society. Principles of law and ethics affect all individuals in their personal and professional lives, no matter what they choose to do in terms of a career after completing university studies. Among the primary goals of the course is to equip students with the critical analysis abilities necessary to identify legal and ethical issues, and to make appropriate judgments with respect to the resolution of same. As such, our focus will be on the interplay of legal and ethical obligations, the extent to which they overlap, and the application of moral principles and legal requirements.

United States Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren once observed: “In a civilized life, law floats in a sea of ethics.” Earl Warren, Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, Address at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America Annual Awards Dinner (Nov. 11, 1962), quoted in Anita L. Allen, Moralizing in Public, 34 Hofstra L. Rev. 1325 (2006).] While it is true that constitutions, statutes, and court decisions come into play relative to the consideration of the “right” thing to do, individuals are not always strictly constrained or guided by legal principles. Accordingly, emphasis will be placed not only on the content of rules and regulations, but also on learning the ethical-reasoning skills necessary to analyze issues that students will confront and be called upon to resolve in a responsible manner in their future roles as responsible individuals, managers and leaders.

A modified case method of instruction will be used with an emphasis on analysis and discussion. Students are expected to read the assigned textual material, abbreviated legal opinions, and selected problems contained in the text prior to class so that a meaningful dialogue can take place during class. Additional case studies will be introduced to further promote student engagement. Active student participation is expected in order to assist students in the development of an orderly thought process, critical judgment, and articulate expression.

While we will address the assigned material in class, we will not spend our time together time strictly reviewing and/or summarizing the readings in detail. Instead, we will follow the methodology outlined in the following statement made by Francis Low, former Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and provost: “I am afraid that the neat, clean lecture is not mine; rather the digression within the digression. I don’t worry about finishing a prescribed amount of material, but go on whatever pace seems normal.” In other words, while we will proceed through the syllabus and assigned material in an orderly fashion, our progress will not be at the expense of fully exploring questions and issues raised in class and of interest to the class members.  

One of the goals of the course is to introduce real life problems that students might face in their future lives so that they develop the skills and judgments necessary to properly resolve moral dilemmas that they will be faced with in the new global economy. As such, current events that relate to legal and ethical issues will regularly be incorporated into classroom discussions. Specific topics to be explored are outlined above.

 

Teaching and evaluation methods

As noted above, the course will be taught using a modified Socratic method, i.e., a dialogue rather than lectures. Students will be expected to read the assigned material in advance of class so that a meaningful discussion can take place while we are together. Prior to the beginning of the semester a weekly breakdown of the specific readings will be provided. On average, approximately 30 pages of reading will be assigned each week.

The evaluation of student performances and the determination of semester grades will be based on:

- in-class test(s)/exam(s)
- class participation
- written work consisting of brief submissions throughout the semester, as well as a short research paper towards the end of the semester wherein the students will have an opportunity to address an issue of particular interest to him or her.

The score earned on each of these three elements will account for one-third of the semester grade.

Required preliminary knowledge

There are no prerequisites for this course as it has been designed for students without any background in law, ethics or climate change science. 

 

Bibliography

The primary text used in the course will be Law & Ethics in the Business Environment (Eighth Edition) by Terry Halbert and Elaine Ingulli, Thomson/South-Western, a Division of West, 2015. This text is available in softcover and electronic formats from various online vendors.

Supplemental Bibliography:

In addition to the course text, portions of various other books and articles relating to the subject of the course will be made available online through library reserves and/or electronically, including, but not limited to those materials listed in the Supplemental Bibliography found below.

Apaza, Carmen R. and Chang, Yongjin. Whistleblowing in the World: Government Policy, Mass Media and the Law. Cham, 2017.

Baker & McKenzie.  The Global Employer: Focus on Termination, Employment Discrimination, and Workplace Harassment Laws. Cornell University ILR School, 2014. Digital Commons @ILR

http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1109&context=lawfirms

Bliss, Harry. “Bliss” (cartoon). The Boston Globe, December 12, 2017.

Brown, Robert J. and Casey, Lisa L. Corporate Governance: Cases and Materials (Second Edition). Carolina Academic Press, 2016.

Clifton-Dey, Edzard, et al (editors). Employment Law in Europe (Second Edition). Tottel Publishing, 2008.

Conk, George W. A New Tort Code Emerges in China, 30 Fordham International Law Journal 935 (2006).

Dell’Olio, Andrew J. and Simon, Caroline J.  Introduction to Ethics: A Reader. Rowman & Publishers, Inc., 2010.

De Jonge, Alice. Transnational Corporations and International Law: Accountability in the Global Business Environment. Edward Elgar, 2011.

Desjardins, Joseph R. and McCall, John J. Contemporary issues in Business Ethics (Sixth Edition). Cengage Learning, 2014.

Fazio, Christine and Strell, Ethan J. Comparing and Contrasting U.S. and Chinese Environmental Law, New York Law Journal (February 23, 2012), pp. 1-3.

Ferrell, O. C. Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases (Eleventh Edition). Cengage Learning, 2017.

Hahn, Elliott J. An Overview of the Japanese Legal System, 5 Northwestern University Journal of International Law and Business 517 (1983-1984).

He, Kan. “The concept of originality in copyright law in China and Europe,” in Lee, Nari, et al (editors). Governance of Intellectual Property Rights in China and Europe. Edward Edgar Publishing, 2016, pp. 91-106.

He, Zhen and Liu, Hong. A Comparative Study of Product Liability Law of the United States and China. Researchgate.net (May, 2002)

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/2532292_A_Comparative_Study_of_Product_Liability_of_the_United_States_and

Hefner, Robert W. (editor). Shari’a Law and Modern Muslim Ethics. Indiana University Press, 2016.

Hefner, Robert W. “Shari’a Law and the Quest for a Modern Muslim Ethics,” in Hefner, Robert W. (editor). Shari’a Law and Modern Muslim Ethics. Indiana University Press, 2016, pp. 1-32.

Holcombe, Chester. “Oriental Ethics Compared with Western Systems,” International Journal of Ethics, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Jan. 1908), pp. 161-181.

Jennings, Marianne M. Business Ethics:  Case Studies and Selected Readings (Eighth Edition). Cengage Learning, 2015.

Jing, Liu. “The People’s Republic of China,” in Shaver, Mary Alice and An, Shoontae (editors). The Global Advertising Regulation Handbook. M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 2014, pp. 180-219.

Jones, Meg Leta.  Ctrl + Z: The Right to be Forgotten. New York University Press, 2016.

Keown, Damien. Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2005.

Khera, Inder P. Business Ethics East vs. West: Myths vs. Realities, 30 Journal of Business Ethics 29 (2001).

Kim, Suk Shin. The Mini-Cup Jelly Court Cases: A Comparative Analysis from a Food Ethics Perspective. 27 Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 735-748 (2014).

Krowske, Brenda. “Ethical Dilemmas Across Cultures.” CEO Middle East (September 2007), pp. 54- 57.

Lee, Nari, et al (editors). Governance of Intellectual Property Rights in China and Europe. Edward Edgar Publishing, 2016.

Lee, Nari.  “Intellectual property law in China- from legal transplant to governance,” in Lee, Nari, et al (editors). Governance of Intellectual Property Rights in China and Europe. Edward Edgar Publishing, 2016, pp. 5-19.

Liu, Jingjing. Overview of the Chinese Legal System. Environmental Law Institute, January-March, 2013.

Medina, Mercedes. “Spain,” in Shaver, Mary Alice and An, Shoontae (editors). The Global Advertising Regulation Handbook. M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 2014, pp. 133-144.

Michalos, Alex C. Ancient Observations on Business Ethics: Middle East Meets West, 79 Journal of Business Ethics 9 (2008).

Milhaupt, Curtis J., et al. The Japanese Legal System (Second Edition), Foundation Press, 2012.

Nelson, Brian L.  Law and Ethics in Global Business: How to Integrate Law and Ethics into Corporate Governance Around the World. Routledge, 2006.

Peppas, Spero. Attitudes Towards Business Ethics: Where East Doesn’t Meet West, 9 Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal 42 (2002).

Richards, Eric L. and Shackelford, Scott J. Legal and Ethical Aspects of International Business. Wolters-Kluwer, 2014.

Schaffer, Richard, et al. International Business Law and Its Environment (10th Edition). Cengage, 2018.

Settis, Salvatore. If Venice Dies. New Vessel Press, 2016.

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice (Act 4, Scene I). Yale University Press, 2006.

Shaver, Mary Alice and An, Shoontae (editors). The Global Advertising Regulation Handbook. M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 2014.

Shaver, Mary Alice and An, Shoontae. “Advertising Regulation Worldwide,” in

Shaver, Mary Alice and An, Shoontae (editors). The Global Advertising Regulation Handbook. M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 2014, pp. 223-228.

Singh, Divya and Stuckelberger (editors). Ethics in Higher Education: Values-Driven Leadership for the Future. Globethics.net Education Ethics, 2017. 

Strada, Frederico. “Italy,” in Clifton-Dey, Edzard, et al (editors). Employment Law in Europe (Second Edition). Tottel Publishing, 2008, pp. 603-644.

Swiffen, Amy. Law, Ethics and the Biopolitical. Routledge, 2011.

Tammenlehto, Lara and He, Kan. “Criminal Enforcement of IPR in Nordic Countries and China,” in Lee, Nari, et al (editors). Governance of Intellectual Property Rights in China and Europe. Edward Edgar Publishing, 2016, pp. 337-360.

Tiles, J. E.  Moral Measures: An Introduction to Ethics East and West. Routledge, 2000.

Tomasic, Roman. “Looking at corporate governance in China’s large companies: Is the glass half full or half empty?” in Yu, Guangha (editor). The Development of the Chinese Legal System: Change and Challenges. Routlege, 2011, pp. 182-205.

Vanoverbeke, Dimitri. Juries in the Japanese Legal System: The continuing struggle for citizen participation and democracy. Routledge, 2015.

Xi, Chao. “Who writes corporate law rules? The making of the ‘piercing the corporate veil’ rule as a case study,” in Yu, Guangha (editor). The Development of the Chinese Legal System: Change and Challenges. Routledge, 2011, pp. 159-181.

Ye, Fang. “Analysis of Chinese Law: Eminent Domain Powers Versus Real Property Rights,” in Emerging Issues. Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., 2015, pp. 1-3.

Yu, Guangha (editor). The Development of the Chinese Legal System: Change and Challenges. Routledge, 2011.

Zeuschner, Robert B.  West: Ethics from a Comparative Perspective. McGraw Hill, 2000.

Zhao, Gary. Chinese Product Liability Law: Can China Build Another Great Wall to Protect its Consumers, 1 Wash. U. Global Stud. L. Rev. 581 (2002).

Zwart, Hub. A Short History of Food Ethics. 12 Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 113-126 (2000).

 

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International
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