How Knowing Our Values Can Make Us Better Managers

Students in a management class

Doing a master’s program at AUP is a transformative process; for students in the MSc in International Management (MSIM) program, self-discovery helps them not only reflect on their personal and professional lives, but also become more ethical managers. The MSIM program is grounded in mission-based issues and sustainability. That’s why one of its core courses encourages students to place ethics at the heart of their professional pathway.

The Management Ethics and Theory class asks students to reassess their beliefs and assumptions and think critically about management strategies in complex situations. “We do a lot of work around better understanding the current global context,” says Professor Robert Earhart, who teaches the class. “It ends up being a deeply personal growth experience for many students, whether they join us straight from undergraduate or later in their careers.”

Not everybody is a Bond villain... But a lot of people find themselves in trouble ethically because they are working in complex situations they don’t fully understand.

– Robert Earhart

The course is designed to offer an overview of management strategy, frameworks and language alongside a deep dive into relevant theory. “It’s really where students get grounding for the program,” says Earhart. The course complements another core offering, Professor Cath’s course on the Management of Complexity, which focuses in more detail on complexity theory and its impacts on management processes. Together, these two courses prepare students for the more detail-oriented work that comes later in the program, such as in organizational behavior, finance and accounting.

Students confront ethics through a range of case studies that explore how to prevent or avoid unethical behavior through an appreciation of the complex circumstances that can lead to it.  “Not everybody is a Bond villain,” says Earhart. “But a lot of people find themselves in trouble ethically because they are working in complex situations they don’t fully understand.” 

The course then asks students to consider how they can positively implement ethics into management strategy. “We look at what it means to put one’s values into practice, and how conventional strategies can be adapted in various ways to respond to complex challenges,” says Earhart. The course is highly customizable, allowing students to develop bespoke management strategies around the societal issues that most interest them, whether that’s climate change, socioeconomic inequality or social justice.

The aim is to produce managers who are thoughtful and insightful, and who are ready to face the evolving challenges of today’s world. By making conventional management processes more sustainable and mission-driven, managers proactively implement more ethical approaches. Students can begin to put this into practice even before they graduate thanks to the MS in International Management program’s experiential elements, whether that’s by attending a study trip, collaborating on a directed study, or gaining professional experience through an internship.