Difference Between Unethical and Unlawful Behaviour in the Business Context

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3. Difference between Unethical and Unlawful Behaviour in the Business Context By definition, ethics refers to “a set of principles of right conduct.” It is also defined as “the rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession,” (www.thefreedictionary.com) and in business may be considered the standards governing the conduct of people in the business environment. Business ethics is the behavior that a business adheres to in its daily dealings with the world. It relies on values as a way of guiding behaviour in business.

Business law is that body of law that governs business and commerce, such as regulating corporate contracts, hiring practices, and the manufacture and sale of consumer goods. (www.bitpipe.com/tlist/Business-Law.html)

In business the primary focus is on maximizing returns to owners or shareholders. The manner in which a business conducts itself while attempting to make its profit can be considered ethical or not. For instance, a business that has a positive sense of social responsibility will make some effort to have a positive impact on society, contributing to the welfare of the community in which it operates in some way or another. Unethical practice in business could include the converse of this, where a business is solely concerned about its profit and does not attempt to mitigate the impact of its operations in that society. For example, a mining exploration company that does not attempt to ease discomfort and inconvenience of the people that are displaced by its operations could be considered unethical.

Unlawful behavior in business is that which is prohibited by law, it is illegal or criminal. It is behaviour that breaks the clearly set down rules or laws that govern business. This is easier to detect than unethical behaviour because it is simply weighed against the written down laws. The criminal code outlines the basic requirements of behaviour and any behaviour outside of what is...
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