Navigating the boundaries between right and wrong can prove tricky for companies that operate in several nations and across cultures. Business ethics is the study and evaluation of decision-making by businesses according to moral concepts and judgments. Ethical questions range from practical, narrowly defined issues, such as a company's obligation to be honest with its customers, to broader social and philosophical questions, such as a company's responsibility to preserve the environment and protect employee rights. Many ethical conflicts develop from conflicts between the differing interests of company owners and their workers, customers, and surrounding community.
Enron Corporation's fishy accounting practices, the siphoning of profits at Adelphia Communications Corp., allegations of tax fraud and lavish personal spending of company money at Tyco International and WorldCom Inc.'s bid to hide billions of dollars worth of expenses are just a few examples of unethical activities. Scandals and bankruptcies in the United States at companies like Enron and WorldCom Inc. have focused attention on the abuse of the power entrusted to executives by shareholders, employees and customers and they underscore the need for reforms to bolster business ethics. Corruption is not inherent to any one society. Its reach is global. Fifteen percent of all companies in industrialized nations have to pay bribes to win or retain business.
Ethical issues in business have become more complicated because of the global and diversified nature of many large corporations. Managers must balance the ideal against the need to produce a reasonable profit for the company's shareholders with honesty in business practices, safety in the workplace, and larger environmental and social issues. As the costs of corporate and... [continues]
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