The Role of Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility in Business Management

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It is important to note that business ethics and CSR go hand in hand. In order to understand CSR, one must also understand ethics. Also, a socially responsible firm should also be an ethical firm and an ethical firm should also be a socially responsible firm. However, one might wonder as to why business ethics and CSR receive so much importance. Researchers are making it increasingly clear that the two concepts are essential for long term sustainability of an organisation. In today’s highly competitive business environment, business ethics and CSR are no more an option but a necessary practice activity for all organisations. Therefore, business ethics and CSR continue to be important to organisations and strong ethical value shall take a organisation a long way forward.



Definitions of ethics abound. These include among others: The discipline dealing with what is good and bad and right and wrong or with moral duty and obligation (Hurn, 2008). Hurn (2008) testifies that ethics is also considered as the study of “human duty in its wider sense”, underlining the common thread of the recognition of obligation and acceptance of responsibility for how one's actions would impact on other people. However, Seital (2001) as cited by (Papasolomou-Doukakis et al., 2005) defines ethics as the values that guide a person, organization, or society and the differences between right and wrong, fairness and unfairness, honesty and dishonesty. From another point of view Sutherland and Canwell (1997) as cited by (Papasolomou-Doukakis et al., 2005) define ethics as “ a particular code of behaviour, which to most people is considered to be a morally correct approach”. Cutlip et al. (2001) propose that an individual’s conduct is not only measured against ones conscious but also against some norm of acceptability that has been determined by the society, the profession or the organisation, as cited by (Papasolomou-Doukakis et al., 2005). It is generally agreed that ethical principles are devised mainly from the fundamental beliefs and value systems developed within a culture, such as religious beliefs, traditions, importance of the family structure, national identity and cohesion (Hurn, 2008). From my understanding, ethics attempts to tell us what is and what is not morally acceptable within a particular society or culture and how people ought to behave towards each other in various contexts, including business. According to Trezise (1996), Business ethics tries to answer the question: “What is the role and function of business in society”? In doing so it explores the difference between ethical values in the private, economic and political spheres of human activity, and does this by borrowing eclectically from law, philosophy, economics, politics, history and psychology. However, Hurn (2008) believes that Business ethics, therefore, can be defined as the application of moral and ethical considerations in a business setting. Furthermore, Nisberg (1988) as cited by (Kilcullen and Kooistra, 1999) defines business ethics as “as a set of principles that guides business practices to reflect a concern for society as a whole while pursuing profits”.

{text:list-item} There are mainly three types of Business Ethics which would affect the organisation in one way or the other. The different types of ethics, each bringing a different outcome to an organisation is such as: Social ethics: an approach that came from Greek society and is based on the Greeks’ idea of basic rules for civilized living, but which is different from one group or society to another. In other words, organization A may have different ethics to organization B by virtue of a different set of values and/or principles (Orme and Ashton, 2008). In short, it is likely to be based on a firm’s beliefs about the integrity and quality of the information...
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