Pioneers in business ethics: Manuel (Manny) Velasquez

Manuel Velasquez is Department Chair, Charles J. Dirksen Professor of Management in the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, USA. Velasquez is known as one of the fathers of academic business ethics and teaches courses in business ethics, business and public policy, and business strategy. He is the author of Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases, one of the world’s most widely used business ethics textbooks.

Joan Elise Dubinsky is a Senior Lecturer, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland; and a Fellow with the Rutland Institute for Ethics at Clemson University. She has served as the Chief Ethics Officer for both the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund.

Gretchen Winter and Patricia H. Werhane also provided questions for this interview. Gretchen Winter (gwinter@illinois.edu, linkedin.com/in/gretchen-winter-47a81311/) is Clinical Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the Gies College of Business and the Grainger College of Engineering City Scholars Program and adjunct professor in the College of Law at the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign; she also is an invited professor at CY Cergy Paris School of Law.

Patricia H. Werhane (pwerhane@gmail.com) is a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society at the Gies College of Business, University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign, and Professor Emerita at the University of Virginia.

A note on this series: In the last 40 years or so, an entirely new academic and occupational niche for practicing ethics in business has emerged. Many of the original academic business ethicists came to the field through philosophy and brought their thinking and research into business schools. Many of the original practitioners came to the field through the law and remain close to the practice of law.

In an effort to preserve and share this knowledge and practical experience, the Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society at the University of Illinois Gies College of Business has filmed and transcribed the oral histories of these pioneers and early adopters. To date, almost 50 academics and practitioners have been interviewed, each with 25 years or more of experience in the field of business ethics. This series aims to provide a better understanding of how the business ethics field and profession have evolved over the decades through the interviewees’ own experiences. This interview was condensed for clarity and brevity.

JED: How did you get started teaching business ethics?

MV: I got my PhD in ethics from the philosophy department at the University of California at Berkeley. After three years of teaching at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, I became a faculty member in the philosophy department at Santa Clara University in 1977. I was tenured in the philosophy department and then offered a chair in the business school. I accepted the Dirksen Chair of Business Ethics in 1983 have been teaching in the business school ever since.

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