Introduction to Business Ethics
* Gain an understanding of why business ethics is important.
* Learn how business ethics fits into the broader discipline of philosophy.
* Realize that the culture in which we live influences our thinking.
Business ethics, some would say, is an oxymoron. After all, the media presents, on nearly a daily basis, the shenanigans of corporate representatives as they ply their trade. Price fixing, anti-competitive behavior, fraud, deceptive advertising, and insider trading are but a few of the many questionable tactics found in the quivers of corporate moguls and their charges. Corporations and their activities have been fair game for ...view middle of the document...
Health care is provided, as is transportation. Cultural institutions and charities owe much of their existence to corporate philanthropy. You get the picture. If one stops to think about it, the range of possibilities made available to average citizens today through the many and varied activities of modern businesses exceeds in many respects the opportunities provided even the wealthiest and most powerful of generations past. So why all of the attention on business ethics?
While it is true that a larger proportion of the world is better off materially than ever before, it is also true that continued progress in the effort to extend this well-being requires that the highest possible level of integrity be maintained in business practices. It is sometimes true that cutting ethical corners leads to a localized and temporary advantage (e.g., winning a contract by paying a bribe to the decision-makers). However, systemic corruption of ethical standards invariably leads to a lack of efficiency and the confidence necessary to support the effective functioning of businesses, which represent a major driving force behind all economies.
In addition to this macroscopic view of the ramifications of unethical conduct in business, there is a microscopic motivation for attention to ethics, especially in the United States. In recent decades, the United States has seen an explosion of litigation initiated by individuals, groups, and the government, related to violations of laws related to ethical business practices. The public has taken to the courts to seek remedy for everything from medical malpractice to the damaging affects of mislabeled products. The cost to businesses, of the litigation, settlements, and awards has been steadily climbing. By creating an environment that fosters ethical conduct and detailing ethics standards by which employees' actions will be judged, businesses can both minimize unethical behavior and reduce their exposure to costly litigation. As part of this process, companies are implementing comprehensive formal codes of ethics and creating high-level positions to guarantee compliance with the codes. Compliance is enhanced by employees that are both inclined to behave ethically in general and are knowledgeable about business ethics in particular.
Prescriptive Approaches to Ethical Decision Making
Understand the basic characteristics of an ethical dilemma.
Learn about three major theoretical approaches to dealing with ethical problems.
You accidentally stumble upon a document that provides a clear view of your company's intention to merge with a major competitor. The event is imminent according to the description detailed. It is not to be announced to the...