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This is the published version:
McDonald, Gael 2007-03, Business ethics and the evolution of corporate responsibility,
Chartered accountants journal, vol. 86, no. 2, pp. 12-14.
Available from Deakin Research Online: http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30024088 Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright owner.
Copyright : 2007, Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand
Business ethics and the evolution of corporate responsibility
What does the term ‘business ethics’ really mean in today’s business world? Gael McDonald examines the deﬁnition of business ethics, the link with corporate social responsibility, and the development of corporate social responsiveness
Gael McDonald is Professor of Business Ethics at Unitec, Auckland.
Business ethics – what is it?
Although most of us instinctively understand the idea of ethics, it can be hard to deﬁne.
Perhaps the easiest deﬁnition is that ethics relates to a set of standards by which human actions are determined to be right or wrong
(Owen, 1978, p27).
But what about ethics in relation to the corporate environment? In its simplest form, business ethics can be deﬁned as a systematic study of ethics as applied to the issues arising in business.
Many businesses may regard themselves as ethical if their legal staff can keep them safely within the law, but ethics is not only concerned with operating within, or just above, legal requirements. It involves a more detailed questioning of actions and consequences that may not be covered by law.
Chartered Accountants Journal March 2007
Business ethics has been deﬁned by one recognised authority as:
“…the application of our understanding of what is good and right to the assortment of institutions, technologies, transactions, activities and pursuits which we call
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