Deep Links: Business School Students' Perceptions of the Role of Law and Ethics in Business

30 Pages Posted: 3 May 2006

See all articles by Constance E. Bagley

Constance E. Bagley

Yale University

Dr. Gavin Clarkson, Esq.

New Mexico State University - Department of Finance

Rachel Power

Harvard University - Harvard Business School

Date Written: April 8, 2006

Abstract

To better understand how business school students view the relationship between law and business, we used the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET) to elicit the unconscious thoughts and feelings of twelve students about the role of law in starting and running a business in the United States. Our study revealed three deep metaphors: system, moral balance, and force. In this subset of American culture we saw a far richer, more complex and less negative mental model of the role of law than previous survey or anecdotal data would suggest. We were frankly surprised to see the links our subjects drew between law, business, and ethics.

Ignoring the role law plays in making markets possible threatens to undermine students' appreciation of the manner in which law undergirds the capitalist system. The results of this research suggest that teaching materials that highlight the linkages between law, business, and societal welfare may have a greater likelihood of altering students' perceptions and thus their behavior than either a course in business law or a course in ethics taken alone. The systems approach to law and management offers a way to link law, business, and ethics to create an integrated mental model.

Keywords: Law, Management, Ethics

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Bagley, Constance E. and Clarkson, Gavin and Power, Rachel, Deep Links: Business School Students' Perceptions of the Role of Law and Ethics in Business (April 8, 2006). Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 06-039. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=898663 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.898663

Constance E. Bagley (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

20 Fox Den Way
New Haven, CT 06525
United States
2038150078 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://winninglegally.com

Gavin Clarkson

New Mexico State University - Department of Finance ( email )

1110 N Tornillo St
Las Cruces, NM 88001
United States
575-91-GAVIN (Phone)

Rachel Power

Harvard University - Harvard Business School ( email )

Entrepreneurial Management Unit
Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

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