Study Conducted by Wittenborg Senior Lecturer Bert Meeuwsen
To investigate how international students can self-develop business ethics virtues through educational interventions, Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences (WUAS) senior lecturer Bert Meeuwsen is conducting the “Cross-Cultural Business Ethics Educational Intervention Exploratory Study”. From 2021 to 2024, as part of the PhD programme he is pursuing at Leiden University, Meeuwsen will be teaching the module High Performance Leadership to groups composed of WUAS Master of Business Administration (MBA) students.
He explains that, besides being connected to his background in business and education, the research also relates to WUAS’ three pillars: internationalisation, diversity and ethics. “One of the reasons why I decided to pursue this study is its connection with Wittenborg’s pillars. But, throughout my career, the topic of business ethics has always been a source of interest to me and, in line with the conclusions of previous research, I consider that there is a significant gap in higher education when it comes to this field.”
Meeuwsen’s approach is based on Wilhelm von Humboldt’s concept of Bildung, which underlines the importance of educators’ assistance for self-development. “A lecturer should not just throw information at his students, but rather work together with them, touching their feelings, thoughts and deeper ideas within their soul,” he stresses.
While participating in the High-Performance Leadership module, students will be required to perform diverse activities, such as answering questionnaires, reading academic literature and working on the analysis of ethical dilemmas and scenarios. At the end of the course, participants will be asked to write a small reflection on their self-development of ethical decision-making competencies.
One of the questionnaires that will be used in the study employs the Broader Ethical Leadership Scale (BELS), created by WUAS assistant professor Fahad Shakeel during his PhD research. Administered in collaboration with Shakeel, the questionnaire aims to measure the students’ perceptions on ethical leadership. “Fahad and I conducted an educational intervention about business ethics to a group of students in June 2021, and we were enthusiastic about how this activity was received by the participants. The students were very happy to learn something new, and expressed their satisfaction about it. This was also a source of inspiration for my research,” says Meeuwsen.
He highlights that this PhD programme is one of the first studies developed at Wittenborg that connects the topics of business studies and ethical leadership in an educational setting, mentioning that it will lead to further research developments. “I have the intention of repeating this study together with other Wittenborg lecturers, within the undergraduate and graduate programmes, to analyse the subject from a different perspective. Moreover, by working on this research, I am contributing to connecting Wittenborg with scholars who are experts in the field of higher education interventions, as well as other universities and educational institutions. Finally, my work will be part of a series of studies that are being developed by WUAS researchers, such as Dr Fahad Shakeel, Dr Dadi Chen and Dr Doron Zilbershtein,” he concludes.
by Ulisses Sawczuk