Improving Business and ICT Ethics Education – the Potential of Positive Psychology and Appreciative Inquiry
Unethical behaviour is affecting societal behaviour and impacting business success. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is increasingly adopted across businesses and for personal use and insufficient attention is paid to the impact of unethical practices in the use of ICT on various stakeholders involved. ICT professionals are well positioned to provide guidance to ICT users and decision makers but they need help. While they have the knowledge and skills in ICT, they also need a sense of professional responsibility towards their stakeholders and a moral attitude to help them understand how unethical practices in ICT can affect others and the ability to make good decisions in the use of ICT. Ethics education has been shown to be effective for other professions and this research project builds and tests a model based on current good practices found to be effective in ethics education. More specifically, it adopts a Positive Psychology perspective, not previously used in ICT ethics education, looking at what is working well and examines the use of a Positive Psychology approach, namely Appreciative Inquiry (AI) which has been found elsewhere to be an effective method to motivate change. This research project tests the impact that an Appreciative Inquiry included in a computer ethics class has on the development of moral attitude. The project had a quasi-experiment design with a large sample of over 400 participants (undergraduate Information Technology Management students) using both a control and treatment group to determine the effect of AI on the changes in moral sensitivity and moral judgment of the participants. One well validated survey tool and one developed specifically for ICT, the Defining Issues Test 2 and the IMIS Survey, respectively, were used to test changes from the beginning to the end of each course. The study findings demonstrate that a well-developed ethics course, adopting good practices, produced significant changes in the moral attitudes of the participants. The adoption of AI in the treatment group produced significant changes in elements of the student’s moral judgment validated by both the pre-and post-analysis and instructor observations. Thus taking a Positive Psychology approach to ICT ethics is a useful innovation to ethics education. The project has also demonstrated that AI may have significant potential for ethical education across professions and business at large.
- PhD