The definition of "ethics" according to Nelson and Trevino is "the principles, norms, and standards of conduct governing an individual or group" (p. 13). The success of any group, whether a community, business organization, or family unit depends on the development of a set of agreed upon ethics or rules of behavior. Sharing ethical standards fosters cohesion in groups and allows a harmonious work and living environment. Human civilization was built on the development of ethical standards and the expectation that all individuals will abide by these standards. Even cross culturally there are many ethical codes that human beings can agree upon. Most individuals, from every nation, will agree that dishonesty, stealing, and hurting other individuals (or animals) on purpose is unethical. From this basic standard groups develop individual codes of conduct that align with their cultural environment. How Ethics Develop
The human individual begins developing an ethical standard or character almost from birth. As a small child one is taught right from wrong, develops empathy for others through behavioral observation, and learns to behave in a manner acceptable in his or her immediate environment. For most children the parent plays the key role in helping to develop an ethical system. The parents' system derived from their parents' ethical codes as well as what they personally have experienced over their lifetimes. For many families the church or a religious belief has a great deal to do with how ethics and morals are defined. As a child grows older he or she begins to attend school. It can honestly be argued that everything one needs to know to be successful in society one learns in kindergarten: Clean up after yourself, be kind to others, don't take something that isn't yours, always tell the truth, share with others, get plenty of rest, and there is nothing better than a warm cookie and cold milk. The values and ethics developed over time shape not only who the...
References: Nelson, K.A. and Trevino, L.K. (2007) Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right. (Fourth Edition). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Rotta, C.P. (2007) Rules of behavior. The Internal Auditor; June 2007; Vol. 64, pg. 33. Retrieved from ProQuest database August 28, 2010.
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