What is Business Ethics?

Topics: Business ethics, Ethics, Morality Pages: 3 (871 words) Published: October 15, 2013

“What is Business Ethics?” Essay

Posted on July 5, 2012

1 Introduction

Dated back to Code of Hammurabi some 4,000 years ago, business ethics is a social science, whose main aim is to define and examine the responsibilities of businesses and their agents as a part of the general moral environment of a given society. The products of this field of research are sets of rules and codes of conducts, which serve as a means of protection from the possible infringements of moral codes as a result from the general activities and responsibilities of a firm to its stakeholders (e.g. generating profits for shareholders and taxes to the government). This paper will briefly explain the foundations and the growing importance of business ethics in today’s economy. Finally, it will describe several contemporary issues of research and practice.

2 The Rationale behind Business Ethics

In its simplest sense, the field of business ethics represents the meeting point between ethics and business, where business decisions and their implementation are evaluated in terms of the “right” (moral) and “wrong” (immoral). However, ethical decision-making is far from being simple, as is involves much greater complexity and debate (Trevino & Brown, 2004) than other ethical fields, even complicated ones such as bioethics. The main reason for this confusion is not only the themes of business ethics, but the difficulty to recognize the relevance of ethics to the business decision in question. For example, corporate governance standards are closely related to ethics, but the weight of the latter in the spectrum of this field (which also involves financial, legal and other issues) is not always clear, especially when ethical standards collide with other customs.

Thus, it is better to define business ethics through the types of responsibilities it does and does not deal with. That is, instead of suggesting “the best one way” of e.g. corporate governance, the business ethics...


Bibliography: ◾Trevino, L. K. & Brown, M. E. (2004). Managing to be ethical: Debunking five business ethics myths. Academy of Management Executive, 18(2), pp. 69-81. Retrieved 16 July, 2009 from http://www-biz.aum.edu/kevinbanning/ethics.pdf
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