Teaching business ethics and preventetion of corruption and financial crimes in business administration and entreprenuership curricula


  • Merle Ojasoo Tallinn University of Technology
  • Aive Pevkur


business ethics, corruption, financial crime, higher education, business administration, entrepreneurship


Understanding the wider societal context and interdisciplinarity in making business decisions are often in the focus of social scientists when educating future business leaders and entrepreneurs (Saarniit and Pevkur, 2019).

However, whilst business ethics is often included in the business administration or entrepreneurship curricula, topics such as anti-corruption or financial crimes are oftentimes neglected.

Higher education must be more proactive in enhancing an ethical and fair business environment. Honest and law-abiding entrepreneurship should receive more attention in society, also become a priority for higher educational institutions.

This study introduces the research carried out in Estonian universities in 2020. It aimed to identify  to what extent  business ethics, corruption, and financial crimes are included in the curricula of business administration and entrepreneurship. The research comprised of curricula analysis (n=13), interviews with programme managers (7) and a survey among the teaching staff (n=61).

The research demonstrated that topics inflicting ethical and law-abiding behaviour should be taught as a separate course, but also implemented into other disciplines (e.g., marketing, accounting, sales etc). Program managers and lecturers agreed that ethics, corruption, and law-abiding behaviour should be addressed at bachelor's and master's levels. The need to include topics related to ethics, corruption and economic crime was justified with social need; external influences (eg conditions for accreditations, etc.); in the case of private higher education institutions, the expectations of the owners; support from university and faculty leaders. This finding is also supported by Rossouw  and Stückelberger (2012) who found that various accreditations and ranking criteria are the convincing reasons for including ethics and corporate social responsibility in curricula.

Our study demonstrated that lecturers do not have sufficient knowledge and appropriate examples to address corruption and financial crime issues in their classes. As a result of the research, a toolkit to support the lecturers with materials, references, and examples of corruption and financial crime prevention was developed.

The research also contributed to the pedagogy of higher education. The authors made many practical suggestions to improve business administration and entrepreneurship curricula.


1. Rossouw, G.J. (2011).The Global Survey of Business Ethics as Field of Training, Teaching and Research: Objectives and Methodology. Journal of Business Ethics 104, 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-012-1256-z
2. Saarniit, L.; Pevkur, A. (2019). Teaching Ethics in Academic Curricula: Case of Five Disciplines in Estonian Public Universities. Ethical Perspectives, 26 (1(2019)), 33−58. DOI: 10.2143/EP.26.1.3286288.





10.2 Social sustainability in changing working life