Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of Business Ethics

Publication Date



My university recently established a business ethics competency exam for graduate business students. The exam is designed to test whether students can demonstrate several abilities that are indicative of competency in business ethics. They are the abilities to "speak the language" of business ethics, identify business ethics issues, apply theories and concepts to issues, identify connections among theories and concepts as they relate to different issues, and construct and critically evaluate arguments for various positions on business ethics issues. Through this paper, I hope to begin a discussion among business ethicists about both the merits of a competency exam and what the format of such an exam should be. I attempt to do this by explaining the reasons why my institution adopted a competency exam, the goals and purposes of the exam, the format of the exam, and why I believe the exam has merit.


This was published as Spurgin, Earl W. "The Goals and Merits of a Business Ethics Competency Exam" Journal of Business Ethics 50 (2004): 279-288.

The final publication is available at

DOI: 10.1023/B:BUSI.0000024676.76667.24