Global Business Ethics

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Birmingham Business School

Masters in Business Administration - International Business

Module Title:Global Business Ethics

Banner Code:07 21262

Title:Business Ethics : Utopian visions of a more ethical and sustainable world

Date:November 2010

Word Count: (3500)

Written by: Folashayo E. Onibere

Table of Contents

2.0Business and Ethics – Definition4
3.0Business Ethics and Ethical Theories5
3.1Teleological Ethics6
3.2Virtue Ethics7
3.3Katian Deontology7
3.4Consequentialist Theories8
4.0Business Ethics and CSR10
4.1Share holder view of the Firm11
4.2The stakeholder theory of Social responsibility12
4.3The Stakeholder model vs. Shareholder model12
5.0Business Ethics and the Real world14
Case Study A: “Uzbekistan Cotton; a new spin on child labour in the clothing industry 14
Case Study B: California Dental Association v. Federal Trade Commission16
6.0Bridging the Gap between the Utopian and the Real World 18
References 20


In the present decade there has been an unprecedented growth and demand for ethical business practices among corporations and a rise in awareness of the general public and consumers respectively. Businesses now engage and use these ethical standards as a means of portraying themselves as being “morally responsible” and thus creating value in the minds of their customers. Researches in business ethics deal with numerous questions relating to how business and ethics can be addressed within a sustainable framework. According to De George (1987), “Business ethics is the study of morality and immorality as well as possible justification of economic systems.” Business ethics is gaining relevance as business is increasingly being conducted across national boundaries. Smaller domestic firms are expanding abroad to join already established multinational corporations (MNCs). Competition is becoming fiercer and profit margins tighter, thus forcing proliferation into the global market place. These developments however create many gray areas of ethical concerns. Some of these concerns are based on differences in business standards around the world, specifically on lower work standards from less developed countries. Others arise from power of MNCs to often exploit cheap labour and natural resources from less developed countries without making adequate contribution to enhance the economic development in the those communities. These problems are further increased by pollution of the environment resulting from operations by MNCs in the bid to maximise profit and at the detriment of these foreign countries. Even though these operations are beneficial to the less developed communities to some extent, ethicists have criticised these activities as being contradictory to moral obligations and have accused corporations of adopting double standards. As such, are utopian visions of a more ethical and sustainable world truly delusory or could it be achieved in the smallest sense of wordplays or would it just remain as merely an ideology. This essay focuses on informed discussions on business ethics in its general context. Drawing on normative ethical theories and using real life case studies and debates to analyse its impact in today’s global society and to evaluate the extent of its future sustainability.

2.0Business and Ethics – Definition
Ethics can be considered as a moral standard by which attitudes are judged. “It involves a systematic study of moral judgements and the rules and principles upon which such judgement are based” (Snoeyenbos M et al, 1992). “Ethics is a philosophical endeavour in the study of morality which dates back to the time of ancient Greeks” (Boatright, 2007). It is worth noting also that there are two major aspects regarding this...
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