A Novel Approach to Business Ethics Education: Exploring How to Live and Work in the 21st Century


Ethics and Business Law

Date of this version


Document Type



• aesthetics • case method • ethical issues • management education • use of literature in teaching


The power of great novelists’ storytelling is demonstrated by their ability to shape social attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, and even to make life more worth living. However, although narrative pedagogical methods are widely employed in business education, and there are literature-focused electives, business seems to be too busy to require students to read novels. Novels may be perceived to be too long to generate an immediate return on investment. Few great novels are about business, and fewer still are set in a business environment relevant to the economic and technological context of the 21st century. The ones that are, however, are worth the investment, as they just might turn our business students into better business people. This “novel” claim builds upon the widely accepted thesis that narrative pedagogy cultivates better business people, as well as the increasing scientific evidence of the benefits of reading great novels. It goes further to suggest that great novels might belong in the core ethics requirement in that the form and quality of a narrative determines its enduring, ethical effectiveness. In particular, novels explore in a distinctive way the intersection of what to do and how to live that management education needs to develop better persons and more responsible professionals.

Published in

Academy of Management Learning and Education Journal

Citation/Other Information

15(3), 588-606

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.