Once again, welcome to Sustainability and Greed (SUS1501). As we have already said, this is going to be one of the craziest modules that you will do during your studies. So prepare yourself psychologically now. This module is meant to confuse you. It’s meant to force you to scratch your head. It’s meant to force you to question things and to wonder. Purpose Ok. That’s the basic warning (or promise depending on how you look at it). But besides making you think, what is the formal purpose of this module – the purpose which we put on all our documentation? Well it goes like this:
“The overarching purpose of this signature module is to remind commerce students of their human-ness, and to present them with a primer to a lifetime of critical thinking. These objectives will be pursued by: a) introducing students to selected ethical traditions; and b) providing them with opportunities in the form of case studies to apply these to the contemporary social themes of sustainability and greed. ” Doesn’t sound too whacky really, does it? Don’t be fooled. Module Structure We’ve said this is going to force you to scratch your head. What we don’t want is for you to do this because you are kept guessing as to what is coming next.
There are no secrets here. The module will play out as follows: How You’ll Be Assessed Right – let the craziness begin. In a “normal” Unisa module, you will typically do two assignments and then a written exam. This means that most of you will only do any work in two weeks of an entire semester. You usually do: an hour when you get your pack to find the assignment dates a day or two before assignment 1, a day or two before assignment 2, and possibly two or three days before the exam. The extra days for the exam are because the exam mark usually makes up 80% to 90 % of the total module mark.
Does this sound about right? ….. of course it does! Well, this module works nothing like this! Here you will do a eight assignments and a final “portfolio assignment”…… Yup – you heard me – eight (8) assignments plus 1! And no exam!! What’s more, the eight assignments (the year mark) count 80% of the total mark. This means that the final portfolio (which is technically equivalent to the exam) only counts 20%. Don’t panic! This doesn’t mean you are going to be doing four times the amount of work during the semester. The assignments are really mini-assignments.
With the exception of Assignment 01 which is 16 multiple choice questions, they all involve writing two or three of paragraphs. When it comes to our actual marking of your assignments (other than Assignment 01), we use a very simple marking guide. It looks like this: Criterion Score No Assignment 01 submitted / Nothing submitted / Break rules of engagement 0 An attempt made but does not contain all required content, or much of the content is clearly incorrect. 2 Within the range of what we expect – contains all required content as listed above and these are not clearly incorrect.
3 Blows our mind (Note: this may or may not contain all the required content, but the presentation is excellent, the arguments are compelling, and in some way they force the marker to rethink their own perspective on the questions being asked. ) 5 Of course, we are allowed to use any intermediate numbers which we think are appropriate. Please make sure that you actually answer all the questions which we ask in the assignments. What all of this means is that you really need to keep working at the module throughout the semester. You can’t just cram all the work in two weeks!
In fact you probably need to do a bit of work in every single week of the semester. And we think is a good thing. A Semester Plan So, we suggest you make yourself a semester plan. To help you with this we have put a semester plan template into the “Additional Resources”. You can download this by clicking on the “Additional Resources” link here: and downloading the “SEMESTER PLAN. rtf” file. Note that you’ll have to fill in the actual due dates. Doing What You Need To Do (myUnisa only – not Digi-Band) But how do you get started on this plan? How do you get to the “At a Crossroads – Introduction” which is the next section?
Well, it’s not really very difficult to do what you need to do in this module. Especially once you get the hang of it. For the most part it is just a question of pressing the “Next” button at the top or bottom of a page! See the arrow: That is how you get to the “At a Crossroad – Introduction”. Other than that, the “Prev” (previous) or “Table of contents” buttons are also there. Then all you need to do is read the material which will have specific instructions. So hit “Next”………….. Crossroad So, we have this introductory three weeks which we call “At a Crossroad”.
Besides all this introductory stuff, there are two essential things which will happen in this section: Assignment 01 You get to do your first assignment. This is an absolutely critical assignment. It gives its name to this whole introductory section. But more importantly, this assignment really sets the scene for the craziness of this module. NB – In fact it is so important that you cannot do any of the other assignments if you haven’t done this one. Well, you can do them, but you won’t get any marks! For this reason, this assignment stays open right up until the deadline for the final assignment at the end of the semester.
The Dean’s Lecture The second thing that will happen in this introductory three weeks is that you will be treated to a series of lectures by the Executive Dean of the College of Economic and Management Sciences. Besides welcoming you to the College, this really puts this module into a bigger perspective. So let’s get cracking …… Assignment 01 Assignment 01: CROSSROADS ASSIGNMENT Time for you to do your first real thinking in this module! IMPORTANT BACKGROUND – DO NOT SKIP THIS A bit of background is important. We’ve already told you (several times in fact) that this is a crazy module.
Well, if this is a crazy module, then it seems only right to start things off with a crazy assignment. And we think this is a pretty crazy assignment. The assignment is basically made up of a set of multiple choice questions. Nothing crazy about that. But here’s the thing. There are no right or wrong answers! Only opinions for you to chose from on a bunch of issues relating to the themes of sustainability and greed. And that is exactly what we want you to give us – your own opinions now. Today! Why do we emphasize “Today”? Well you see, opinions change.
We change our minds all the time – as we read stuff; as we hear things on the radio or see things on TV; as we live; as we get older (and more grumpy); and of course as we think about stuff. What will be really interesting is to see whether you will change your minds on the issues covered in these multiple choice questions as this course progresses. Don’t you agree? Surely if your opinions change, you will have learned something? And this is what we want to see – or rather to help you to see. So, you will do this assignment now. But you will continuously reflect back on your opinions throughout the module.
Just about every assignment you do will involve some sort of reflection on your original opinions. And ultimately your final assignment (your portfolio) will ask you to actually report on all these changes (or lack of changes). It is for this reason that you cannot get any marks for the other assignments unless you have already done this one. So it is very important that you do this, and that you keep a record of your “baseline” opinions (see steps 1 and 4 below). Feedback Now, if this is all about opinions, how on earth do we intend providing you with any feedback? We can’t very well say the right answer should be “A. ” just because “A.
” might be our opinion can we? Well here’s what we are going to do. We are going to use democracy to provide feedback. As soon as we have a reasonable number of your submissions, we will provide you with the frequencies of answers of all of your fellow students. You will see what are the most popular answers to each question, and what are the least popular answers. However, we do not use democracy to “mark” your assignments! It is important to realise that democracy doesn’t always tell you the right answer. Sometimes the majority are just plain wrong! The point is, so long as you answer the questions you will get the marks.
It’s all or nothing. I guess that this is pretty crazy too? You could just submit rubbish e. g. just answer “A. ” for everything and get the marks!? But remember if you just submit rubbish you will get the marks, but you are going to battle to with subsequent assignments. So, here’s what you have to do: INSTRUCTIONS: STEP 1 Go to the “Self Assessments” link in the menu on the top left of this site (Note: you must log into myUnisa to do this. You cannot do it on the Digi-Band) STEP 2 Open the “Assignment 1: At a Crossroads” STEP 3 Complete the assignment. NBNB PLEASE KEEP A RECORD OF THE CHOICES THAT YOU MADE.
The Dean’s Lecture: A Word of Welcome I would like take this opportunity to personally welcome you to the College of Economic and Management Sciences (CEMS) at the University of South Africa (Unisa). This is the largest college of Unisa’s six colleges with approximately 200 000 students enrolled for degree and non-degree programmes. At present one out of every four BCom degrees awarded by South African universities go to students from CEMS and on a postgraduate level almost half of the honours degrees and 30% of the master’s and doctoral degrees were awarded to this College’s students over the past five years.
It’s obvious that this college adds a lot of value, especially to the African continent where the graduate pool is less than quarter full. The College has thirteen departments in three schools where you can choose to study. I am sure you have seen them on our web as you were making your choice, but let me just mention them: School of Accounting Sciences; School of Economics, and School of Management Sciences. We also have our Bureau for Market Research and Institute of Corporate Citizenship. This then is CEMS. And you are now part of this family.
So again, welcome to CEMS! I hope that you will enjoy your journey with us and wish you the best! Ok, let’s move on now to the second objective of this lecture: why it’s important to have a signature course in CEMS and why that module is entitled “Sustainability and Greed”. By now you will hopefully have read the introductory material on the module. You’ll know that this is an unusual module (a “crazy module” perhaps). And you’ll have hopefully read the purpose statement of the module. In case you haven’t, it goes as follows:
The overarching purposes of this signature module will be to remind commerce students (in other words you) of your humanity, and to present you with a primer to a lifetime of critical thinking. These objectives will be pursued by: a) introducing you to selected ethical traditions; and b) providing you with opportunities in the form of case studies to apply these to the contemporary social themes of sustainability and greed. That is an awful lot of words but we can draw out the absolutely key words: Your humanity Critical thinking Ethical traditions Sustainability And of course greed.
For this lecture I want to really zoom in on the last two: Sustainability And Greed. So let’s first look at some definitions. Firstly, sustainability. This is all about long term continuance; it’s about the capacity to endure; it’s about our ability to keep going; or our ability to support life into the distant future. When we look at these definitions it should be immediately obvious that this is something we would want. We must want to keep going as a species. Because the alternative is that we die out – that we go extinct. Actually, most of us want more than just to make sure that we don’t go extinct.
Most of us want our children and their children to grow up in a world which is at least as good as the world we grew up in. This is the essence of sustainability. But is it really your problem to worry about this? Is it your concern? Well let me tell you what I believe the answer to these questions is using a little story: Once upon a time, there was a family that kept a cow, a dog, a chicken, and a cat. A rat was seen in the house and the owner of the house set a trap to kill it. The rat then called a meeting with the other animals in the house and asked for their help in removing the trap.
All the other animals, especially the chicken and the cow, told the rat off, saying that the trap did not concern them since it could not trap them. The trap eventually caught a poisonous snake, but not before the snake fatally bit the owner of the house while he was trying to stop a fight between the cat and the dog. The cat and the dog, each blaming the other for the owner’s demise, fought one another to the death. For the owner’s funeral the cow was slaughtered and, for the last funeral rites, so was the chicken. In the long run, whose concern is the trap? Everyone’s!
Just like sustainability. It is all of our business to be concerned about this. Now it should be immediately clear that worrying about sustainability means being concerned about others. It means being concerned about more than our own immediate desires. And this means being very weary of greed. So let’s then think about greed for a minute. It’s a very relevant topic at the moment, particularly in our field isn’t it? Just think about the economic meltdown which we have been experiencing for the past couple of years. How many times have you heard that this is a result of greed?
The present rot started with supposedly highly respected financial institutions making very high risk loans. They then took these high risk loans and, through some fancy financial tricks, dressed them up to look like low risk investments which they sold on. Why did they go to all this trouble? Well it was very profitable to do so. It meant huge bonuses and lavish lifestyles. Fancy cars, and expensive French champagne. Greed? I will leave you to make up your own mind! It was of course inevitable that this would unravel at some point. It just wasn’t sustainable!
Unfortunately when it did unravel, it wasn’t just the greedy who suffered. It was also millions of ordinary people who lost their jobs, their life’s savings, their pensions. In fact it is probably safe to say it became almost everyone’s problem – just as the trap in the story I just told you was everyone’s problem. Sustainability then is what we must want to achieve. Greed represents a distinct threat to achieving this. Worrying about this – about avoiding greed and thereby promoting sustainability – is everyone’s business. This is why we have a module called Sustainability and Greed.
This then brings me to my third objective in this short lecture. To introduce you to the RARE framework for living and leading. It’s a framework which was described in a book written by the previous Dean of CEMS, Professor Helicy Ngambi entitled “RARE Total Leadership: Leading with the Head, Heart and Hand”. Now RARE is an acronym: R for Responsible; A for Accountable; R for Relevant; and E for Ethical. I have already spoken about the economic meltdown and it must be immediately obvious that when dishing out blame for this, economic and management sciences graduates must surely accept a big portion.
After all it was to a large extent highly trained economic and management science graduates who developed the fancy financial tricks used to dress up high risk loans to look like low risk investments. My college does not want to produce this type of graduate. Let me repeat this: My college does not want to produce this type of graduate. We want to produce leaders and managers of tomorrow who are aware of sustainability and greed issues. And the RARE framework is one very concrete way in which we might pursue this goal.
In the four mini lectures which follow this one, I’m going to deal with each of the pillars of the RARE – responsiblity, accountability, relevance and ethics – separately. But before I move to these I would just like to reflect on how crucial it is that we do produce the right kind of leaders and managers. Most of you come from Africa. And so most of you will fully appreciate the incredible wealth that this continent is blessed with. To name but a few of our riches: we have the bulk of the world’s diamonds; we have 50 percent of the world’s gold and 40 percent of its platinum.
Everyone knows that energy is crucial and in this regard we have 7. 5 percent of the world’s coal reserves; 8 percent of its known petroleum reserves; 12 percent of its natural gas. But that is all dirty energy. We’re even more blessed in potential clean energy. We have 40 percent of the world’s hydro-electric power generation potential and of course we have two huge sunny deserts ideal for generating solar power. And last but not least, we have millions hectares of potential farmlands. Basically we’re rich! And yet we are poor? Eish!
As we would express our surprise in South Africa – Rich and yet we are poor! It is my view that without leaders and managers who exhibit RARE character, we will remain poor despite our wealth. The Dean’s Lecture: Responsible Okay. Let’s now unpack RARE: Responsible, Accountable, Relevant and Ethical personal leadership. The RARE principle-based value system advocated in CEMS fosters:Responsible behaviour of leaders, employees and citizens towards one other and all stakeholders, not at the expense of others but in mind of the future state of the institution, nation and the continent at large;
Accountability to each other and the other stakeholders, taking ownership of decisions and avoiding the blame game and scape-goating and making excuses for toxic behaviour instead of owning up to the consequences of choices and decisions; Relevant engagement in a value-adding way towards one another and all stakeholders, and being of service to the community; Ethical behaviour that advocates honesty, integrity, openness and trust. This is a personal leadership approach that is all encompassing.
It allows individuals to be total leaders. This approach comprises five broad dimensions, namely: vision, change, connectivity, engagement, and integrity. These dimensions interact to construct the fibre of a RARE person and leadership that is appropriate in leading into the future and leveraging African principles. In this first mini lecture on RARE the focus is on Responsible leadership which is visionary and a catalyst for change. Let me quote an African proverb which says: ‘An elephant never gets tired of carrying its tusks.
’ Responsibility can be defined as a duty or obligation to satisfactorily perform or complete a task (assigned by someone, or created by one’s own promise or circumstances) that one must fulfill, and which has a consequent penalty for failure; a moral obligation to behave correctly towards or in respect of. Individuals have a responsibility to control their behaviour. To be reliable or trustworthy; to be placed in control and having to be answerable for actions; being the source and cause for an action. As an individual you must accept and understand your own vulnerability and the effect of your behaviour on those around you.
You have to take responsibility for the outcome or consequences of your actions and emotions and manage these effectively and in a principled manner to contribute to sustainable success at all levels. Responsible leadership anticipates and is passionate about the future. A responsible leader cultivates the envisaged future in the hearts and minds of followers but, most importantly, recognises when there is a need for change in order to realise this envisaged future. Responsible leadership entails being legitimate, acting with integrity, being a role model, and ensuring that as a leader one develops successors.
Studies also show that leaders are great catalysts for change and are able to recognise the need for change; challenge the status quo and advocate change; and champion the new order. It is also worth mentioning that, although leaders like all humans acknowledge barriers and fear change, they find practical ways to promote the need for change and overcome such barriers. Responsible leadership achieves this by being adaptive in order to thrive in tomorrow’s world and embraces disequilibrium so as to get things done; by being visionary in embracing creativity and innovation; and by invigorating and inspiring.
They believe in lifelong learning and investing in developing future leadership. That’s what you need to be Responsible. The Dean’s Lecture: Accountable Okay let’s talk about the “A” in the RARE. That is, Accountable leadership and connectivity. Moliere says, “It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable. ” Accountability as defined by Wikipedia is a concept in ethics and governance with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving.
As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in the public sector, non-profit and private (corporate) worlds. In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.
The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner. It also includes the responsibility for money or other entrusted property. Accountability requires that you connect with the people that you interact with. It is also driven by the urge for transparency (Waistell, 2008). Connecting is the ability to identify with and relate to people in a way that enhances the ability to influence them positively (Maxwell, 2010).
Accountable people; inspire trust and commitment by ensuring that their words and actions are integrated — people do not care or want to commit to the vision until they know that you care for them; are answerable for all the resources they are entrusted with; do not play the blame game or use manipulative impression management tactics to cover up their incompetence but, instead, own up to it and use mistakes as learning moments for future improvement and give credit where it is due.
They display attitude that is caring, humble, and does not operate in isolation but is relevant and engages all the stakeholders. The shift in values from self to others demonstrates empathy and elicits commitment and trust in relationships. To ensure that one is responsible and accountable, one must begin by looking first at oneself and only then expect responsibility and accountability from others. People often revert to blaming others when something goes wrong — they blame the environment, circumstances, and everyone but themselves which is a victim mentality.
If this destructive behaviour is to be stopped, it is imperative to develop a culture of responsibility and accountability. Here are some guidelines: Clarify values and establish achievable goals and outcomes. Without clarity in values and set goals and outcomes, employees and managers, citizens and leaders end up being frustrated and sometimes destructive. When people demand rights without understanding the responsibility and accountability that go with such rights they indulge in behaviours such as burning schools and libraries, the source of a sustainable future, when on strike.
It is critical at this stage to clearly define and demonstrate the principles, values, exceptional performance and behaviour that are expected, as this shows the intended direction of any institution, organisation or country. Reinforce commitment to avoid compliance, which does not foster productive behaviour. Provide feedback and clarify consequences in every relationship. Feedback lets people know whether they are still on the expected and agreed path or not, and makes early intervention possible when needed. Feedback allows for the celebration of small successes, which is a form of encouragement for sustained high performance.
Similarly, if performance is consistently below the desired and agreed level, people need to know that there will be consequences and exactly what these will be. If there is no responsible leadership and consistent underperformance has no consequences, there will be no accountability. The RARE approach aims to create a culture of accountability, responsibility and a ‘no blame games or excuses’ mentality across the continent, the country and within organisations and institutions, starting at family level in the home.
This links to the importance of relevant leadership. The Dean’s Lecture: Relevant In this mini lecture we discuss the second “R” in the RARE which refers to Relevant leadership as engaging. “I saw my mission as one of preaching reconciliation, of binding the wounds of the country, of engendering trust and confidence. ” Nelson Mandela Some synonyms to relevant: pertinent, germane, material, apposite, apropos These adjectives describe what relates to and has a direct bearing on the matter at hand. Something relevant is connected with a subject or issue.
From Wikipedia: “The concept of relevance is studied in many different fields, including cognitive sciences, logic, and library and information science. Most fundamentally, however, it is studied in epistemology (the theory of knowledge). Different theories of knowledge have different implications for what is considered relevant and these fundamental views have implications for all other fields as well. Something (A) is relevant to a task (T) if it increases the likelihood of accomplishing the goal (G), which is implied by T. “
A thing might be relevant, a document or a piece of information may be relevant. The basic understanding of relevance does not depend on whether we speak of “things” or “information” or person. A relevant person and leader is in touch with the surrounding environment, both internal and external. Such people acknowledge that they work in a diverse environment with others who have different and sometimes even conflicting needs and expectations that have to be addressed in a responsible and balanced way. Such relevant leadership and people;
drive organisational and national performance by analysing future trends; pays attention to solutions that impact positively on challenges facing institutions; continuously develops best practice in pursuit of excellence; embraces and leverages the benefits of diversity; commits to the execution of strategy without excuses, and is decisive and courageous; Is transparent, and motivates and inspires everyone to high performance levels. This is leadership that seeks to add sustainable value that is applicable, pertinent, significant, appealing and winning.
It acknowledges that what is relevant in one environment may not be so in another, and therefore is flexible, innovative and adaptable. And then there is the ethical part of RARE. The Dean’s Lecture: Ethics The last letter in RARE, “E”, referring to Ethical leadership and integrity is the focus of this last mini lecture. William Shakespeare says; ’It’s not enough to speak, but to speak true. ’ From Wikipedia, “Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behaviour.
” You will hear much more about ethics in general in the next sections of this module. But let me give you my perspective particularly my perspective on ethical leadership. Because this is what we want you to aspire to. The Centre for Ethical Leadership describes ethical leadership as knowing your core values and having the courage to uphold them in all facets of your life in the service of the common good; therefore, ethical leaders need to demonstrate integrity by being authentic.
Cashman suggests that being authentic is a process that requires one to know her/himself by practising what she/he looks for in others; listen with a giving attitude that seeks a contribution from others; express her/himself in a manner that creates value; appreciate self-expression that creates value; and serve because leaders are not judged by how well they lead but by how well they serve. Leading with integrity requires leaders to be transparent and honest, trustworthy and humble; it is an important cornerstone of RARE leadership. In the financial crisis that led to the economic meltdown there was evidence of many unethical mistakes.
It was said in many cases that the cause of the crisis was greed. Integrity is not and should not be a slogan; it is not about what one says but whether his/her words and deeds are synchronised. Most relationships at personal and business level are destroyed because of a lack of integrity. Building effective families, organisations and nations needs a leadership that is ethical and trustworthy, irrespective of whether it is being watched. We need to overcome the destructive and unethical actions of some of our leaders in ourselves, including kleptocracy (which is basically “rule by thieves”) and entrepreneurship (we all know what that is).
Civil society needs to be responsible and stop electing leaders to office on the basis of emotions associated with liberation politics and misplaced loyalty. Toxic leaders are supported because of past favours or connections even when it can be seen that their actions will destroy the future of people, institutions and countries. The impetus behind electoral decisions should be the vision for the country and the capabilities of leaders to achieve that vision. Similarly, there must be more shareholder activism to fight corruption in the private sector, which in many cases colludes with the state to rob the nation.
Being a RARE leader or person is a precedent to practising total leadership. RARE principle-based values equip leaders with a core value system that guides their leadership actions and activities. Being a total leader, one needs to lead with the head (intellectual capability), through the heart (managing others and being aware of their feelings) and through the hands (the ability to get things done with the available talent). The Dean’s Lecture: A Final Word I can assure you that as your new family, what we expect of you in terms of being RARE we also expect of all our staff. This is something that is embedded in our service charter.
We are committed to addressing economic and management sciences (EMS) challenges and we trust you will become party to addressing these challenges too. We are INNOVATIVE, constantly striving to find and create better ways of pursuing being a truly African University in the service of humanity; We are all engaged in LEARNING, finding joy in its constant pursuit; We are a diverse COMMUNITY, bound by strong values and ethos, in many ways more accurately described as a family; We are COMMITTED to your success as a learner; We care deeply about EXCELLENCE and RELEVANCE in its many forms.
Our vision as an African community is centred on people, knowledge, the future, and education. As CEMS, in pursuit of excellence with integrity we aim at being RARE and to produce a student that is RARE; and acknowledges that, ‘It takes vision, commitment, culture-building leadership, trust, empowerment, communication, connectivity and critical thinking to build a successful, focused college’ and a student that is RARE.
We will continue to build a successful college that remains relevant and makes meaningful contribution to you, our student, the university , country, continent and global village. Let me conclude my lecture in a typical African way with a story. Once upon a time there was a king who had an only child, a very beautiful daughter. Many men had wanted to ask for her hand in marriage from the king. The king gave a decree that anyone who successfully touches the tail of any of the three animals would marry the princess and inherit the kingdom. One of the most persistent admirers