Welcome to Week One

Getting Started (BUS475)

What Is "Business and Society"?

Businesses should be focused on their customers. I think that's a common perception and it's definitely an important thing for businesses to do but, as a senior manager, you can't stop there. In this class, we look at the wide range of internal and external groups that a business interacts with. For example, I worked for many years for a national home health care provider. In addition to working with patients, the company also interacted with government regulators, legislators who wrote regulations, physicians who referred patients, technology providers whose products we used, external financial auditors, media outlets who reported on health care issues and insurance companies who made payments for their customers.

In this course, we're going to talk about the various stakeholders, internal and external, that companies work with and their relationship to each other. We'll also be discussing the practical ways that these groups influence other and the ethical issues surrounding that influence.

Assignment Summary

Weekly Discussion

Each week of the course has one discussion board. You are required to respond to the initial question posted in each discussion as well as making an additional response to other students' comments for a total of two posts. Throughout the class, we'll be discussing a variety of topics about which many of you will feel strongly. There are a few things you should keep in mind when making posts in the discussion.

  1. You're welcome to disagree with your fellow students - a variety of viewpoints is what makes the discussion interesting. However, it's imperative that you do so in an appropriately professional tone throughout the discussion. You should always take the time to review a post before you click the submit button. Ask yourself how the post is likely to be received? Did you take the post to which you're responding personally? A post rarely suffers from being gone over one more time or from having you take a break before you submit it.
  2. When posting, you should focus on making a "business case" type of argument. There will be times in your career when you have to make an argument to decision makers on a course of action about which you feel strongly. You should resist the urge to engage in flowery or emotional language. Managers are looking for logical, analytical arguments. Appearing to be emotionally involved with a situation or decision will only weaken your argument.
  3. On a more practical level, when you respond to the initial questions you should be sure that you're responding explicitly to all parts of the question. You won't get full credit if you leave out parts and filling in something that you missed in a follow up post won't count toward the required additional post that you have to make in each discussion board.

There are a couple of things that I often see students say in the discussion board and in their assignments that you should avoid at all costs:

  1. Accusing business or people of being "greedy". 99% of the time this is purely a statement of personal opinion with no factual basis. If you post anything like this, you can count on my challenging you to provide proof of your assertion.
  2. Accusing businesses or people of "only being interested in profit". This assertion may or may not be true in specific cases but I don't see how it can be the accusation that the people who post it obviously intend. Businesses should be interested in profit. If they aren't then they won't be around very long.
  3. Describing a behavior as illegal. If you think someone's behavior is illegal be prepared to cite a specific law that you think was broken. Accusing a business of illegal behavior in a classroom will get you called out by your professor. Doing it in a professional environment will get you sued.

Written Assignments and Plagiarism

This class includes two written assignments that will involve a substantial amount of research and a PowerPoint presentation. The descriptions for all of the assignments are available in the Course Guide. I strongly suggest that you review all of them and that you not leave starting them until the last minute. There are several things that you should keep in mind while researching and writing:

  1. These are intended to be formal analyses, not personal narratives or discussions of your personal opinions. In any kind of formal writing, you should avoid any use of personal pronouns like "I", "me" and "we".
  2. Your positions and analysis should be based on rational argument. You will lose points for engaging in overly emotional language, e.g. words like "heinous", "greedy", "unthinking", etc.
  3. If you make a factual statement, you should support it with evidence, i.e. some kind of reference. For example, if you assert that all corporate executives are immoral and greedy, you should proceed to back up that assertion with specific facts in the rest of your analysis.
  4. Avoid asking rhetorical questions, e.g. "Does this suggest a balanced response?"

If an assignment doesn't meet the minimum length requirement, your grade will be based on the percentage of work that you completed. For example, if the minimum length is eight pages and you only submit six then your final grade will be 6/8 or 75% of the total points earned.

Each assignment's description includes a number of specific topics that you're asked to cover. Be sure that you cover each topic completely. For example, the first assignment asks you to "[s]pecify the nature, structure, types of products or service of your chosen organization". Your submission should explicitly address all three of those categories in that section. Using the individual items from the assignment description as the basis for headings within your paper is a good idea but you should not use the exact wording from the assignment description. That's going to make your work read like a term paper rather than a business analysis. Instead, recast the assignment's text into a more business-like description. For example, "Examine three (3) salient stakeholders of the chosen organization based on their key roles and relationships with the company." as a heading could become something like, "Roles and Relationships between Major Stakeholders".

Plagiarism, in simple terms, consists of presenting someone else's work as your own without giving the original author appropriate credit. There are three fundamental points that you should keep in mind when you're writing to avoid this:

  1. Work that is directly copied from another source must be in quotation marks.
  2. Work that is copied or paraphrased must have an appropriate inline citation and a corresponding reference at the end of the assignment.
  3. Copied/paraphrased work should make up not more than 10% of anything that you submit.

These rules apply to everything that you post in the classroom including written assignments and discussion board posts. If I determine that something submitted has been plagiarized, I'll assign a 0 for that assignment and report the incident to the University. Repeat offenses can result in receiving an F for the class and being expelled from the University.


The course has multiple weekly quizzes each covering one or two chapters. The quizzes start in week two and skip weeks where a written assignment is due. Some weeks have two quizzes (usually the weeks after a written assignment was due) so be sure to look closely at each week's assignment list.

Additional Resources

Each week has a section called Instructor Insights. That's an area where I'll post supplemental resources each week. That's going to include additional written materials, links to videos that I've created and links to additional examples and links to relevant external websites.