Thursday, May 03, 2007

Duke Probe Shows Failure of Post-Enron Ethics Classes

The cheating episode at Duke University may cause academics to conclude the post-Enron emphasis on teaching ethics in graduate business schools is a failure.

Thirty-four first-year master's of business administration students at Duke's Fuqua School of Business were disciplined in the program's largest cheating scandal. Nine students face expulsion for collaborating on a take-home test, violating the professor's rules.

Business students are more likely to cut corners than those in any other academic discipline, several studies show. A Rutgers University survey last year found that cheating at business schools is common, even after ethics courses were added following scandals that bankrupted Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc.

``What is taught in a business program sometimes reinforces'' students' tendencies to be entrepreneurial and results-oriented, said Timothy Dodd, 50, executive director of the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke, in an interview from Durham, North Carolina. ``Those sometimes aren't the people who understand that moral means have to be used to achieve moral ends.''

A study released by the center in September and conducted by Rutgers professor Donald McCabe in New Brunswick, New Jersey, showed that students pursuing MBA degrees cheat more than other U.S. graduate students. McCabe found that 56 percent of those in business schools acknowledge violating the rules, compared with 54 percent in engineering, 48 percent in education and 45 percent in law.

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