Importance of Ethics in Business as an Academic Discipline

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This paper is discussed under the following broad areas:
1. Statement of the Problem
2. Executive Summary

Main Paper
1. Introduction to Business Ethics
2. Ethics as an Academic Discipline
3. Importance of Ethics in Business as an Academic Discipline 4. The Case Against Business Ethics Education
5. Conclusion


Question 1:
Discuss the importance of Ethics in business as an Academic Discipline.

In today’s highly competitive, performance-driven business climate, regulations are not enough; professional ethics codes are not enough; the old model of “business ethics” is not enough.

According to a 2003 survey of corporate directors and general counsel conducted by the National Association of Corporate Directors and the American Corporate Counsel Association, “…the two groups overwhelmingly agree that the single measure that would most improve corporate governance is the establishment by senior management of an ethical business culture.” And, “Another clear message of the survey is that ethical leadership from the top is the key to reducing corporate malfeasance.”

Considering the ethical failures in the last several years and the resulting crisis in confidence, a sincere commitment to creating and sustaining an ethical business culture in public and private sectors has never been more important. It is important that each individual feels personally ethically responsible. How an individual treats others, is affected by the way the individual is treated within the organization or by society. The focus on ethics provides a guide to individual and organizational actions in a consistent manner. The question ethics tries to answer is: “Is this the right thing to do? The purpose of ethical inquiry is to create a framework of general principles or right and wrong, what one might do, and what one’s duties are.

The ethical application in a business situation is for managers to draw a line between morality and individual or institutional self-interest. Ethical analysis involves assessing issues and paying attention to the effects of potential decisions on the lives of those who will be affected.

The imperatives of day-to-day organizational performance are so compelling that there is little time or inclination to divert attention to the moral content of organizational decision-making. Morality appears to be so esoteric and qualitative in nature that it lacks substantive relation to objective and quantitative performance. An effective organizational culture should encourage ethical behavior and discourage unethical behavior. Admittedly, ethical behavior may cost the organization. Even though ethical problems in organizations continue to greatly concern society, organizations and individuals, the potential impact that organizational culture can have on ethical behavior has not really been explored. What is needed in today's complicated times is for more organizations to step forward and operate with more positive and ethical cultures.

Ethical decision making is key to the very fabric of administration and governance, either in a business setting or government operations. To have an ethical organization or business enterprise, requires: ➢ having a critical mass of ethically responsible individuals ➢ promoting norms that encourage ethical behavior

➢ having leaders who behave ethically and serve as ethical role models for others to emulate.

1.1What is Ethics?
Ethics has been defined in many different ways by various people, depending on the perceptive they have and also the context of the definition. Some of the thoughts and definitions of term ‘Ethics’ are as follows:

▪ Ethics refers to well based standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness or specific virtues....
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