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Live theatre can supplement business ethics education, Purdue study says

Frankenstein Theatre Artwork
“Frankenstein” was performed at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2-3 in Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse.

Research completed by Purdue Convocations in partnership with Krannert School of Management suggests that live theatre could be used as a teaching tool in business ethics education.

Students were asked to analyze the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy scenario both before and after attending a live theatre performance featuring related narrative themes. The study centered on a performance of “Frankenstein,” based on the critically acclaimed book by Mary Shelley.

The study found a significant difference in which parties students held responsible, what actions students think should have been taken and how cultural norms affect students’ perceptions of ethical obligations.

The research was led by Amanda Mayes, curricular integration and research administrator for Student Life, and Amy David, clinical assistant professor of management.

“Our hypothesis is that attending a live performance would cause students to take a more ethical view of an industrial disaster case study,” Mayes says. “Results show support for the notion that live theatre may impact the ethical decision-making of business students. We are interested in further exploring live theatre as a novel pedagogical tool in business ethics education.

The study, titled “The Effect of Live Theatre on Business Ethics,” has been published in the Humanistic Management Journal special edition on the integration of the humanities and business. The special edition has been guest edited by Anne Greenhalgh, deputy director of the McNulty Leadership Program in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

The full study can be found here.

Writer: Matthew Vader, writer/social media coordinator, Vice Provost for Student Life

This story was first published in Purdue Today in April 24, 2020 here.