What Is Business Ethics? Essay Example
Ethics in business is a critical element, not only because adhering to ethics typically creates a better workplace, but because all business is inherently reliant on the greater society in which it exists. For business to disregard ethics is as ultimately impractical as an individual ignoring them in the course of their life. As ethics comprise the general standards of behavior set forth by a society, the business is obligated to observe them, the moral correctness of this aside.
The actual compliance is, however, often difficult because business is centered on economic gain; consequently, ethical decisions carry vastly greater impact. For example, the concepts of threat power, trading power, and giving power take on wider dimensions in commercial arenas than when they apply to personal relations. Giving power to generate a desirable return is a different action when many lives are affected, as threat power has far more impact when the business object of the threat is actually responsible for thousands of jobs. The business ethics then must amplify the rightness or wrongness of what course is chosen, simply because of this far-reaching effect.
Today’s globalization presents even larger challenges. On one level, there are innumerable conflicts inherent in a business’ understanding of a different culture’s code of ethics. As business exists within a culture or is founded on a culture’s systems and foundations, it is as subject to violating ethical codes as an individual who unknowingly transgresses boundaries. This adds an enormous responsibility to international business; commercial cooperation between nations is one thing, but moving in this direction before the alien cultures truly comprehend one another presents serious risks. It may be that Eastern business have an advantage in terms of comprehending global ethics, as many commercial leaders from China and India are educated in Western schools (Steen). Nonetheless, the reality is the same for all global businesses, in that an acceptable ethical approach must be devised to satisfy all parties concerned.
Then, and viewed broadly, a significant factor going to global business ethics is that the international nature of them can be self-defeating. A company operates to achieve maximum profit with minimum expense, and a global arena inherently presents opportunities to, if not exploit all the possibilities here, at least situate itself most favorably (Kopperi). This then may be seen as being at least partially irresponsible, in ethical terms. The business has a larger arena in which to select options, so there is likely to be a stronger emphasis on what is best for the business strictly in operational terms. It could be argued, in fact, that no company can hope to comply with global ethics in a literal way. Business is about profit, and any opportunity to take advantage of an international situation more favorable to business is likely to be less than ethically sound, as viewed by another nation or entity deprived of the business. All of this underscores the greater imperative today for business to set and adhere to an ethical platform which can remain valid under any of these complex situations.
Kopperi, Marjaana. “Business Ethics in Global Economy.” Electronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organization Studies. 12 Nov., 2007. Web. http://ejbo.jyu.fi/articles/0401_1.html
Steen, Margaret. “Business Ethics in a Global World: An Introduction to the Issues.” Santa Clara University. Mar., 2007. Web. http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/business/conference/2007/presentations/cramer.html
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