[[[kate wente - business ethics]]]

According to this particular article, business ethics could be found in U.S. business schools as early as the first three decades of the 20th century, particularly in Catholic colleges and universities. However, as more business issues arose in big corporations etc, people such as former Securities and Exchange Commission head John Shad gave the Harvard Business School over $30 million for the purpose of starting a business ethics program there in 1987, in the midst of the insider trading scandal on Wall Street. Other schools followed suit over the years as well.

The second topic addressed in this article touches upon ethics within a corporation. Some of the questions and dilema's posed here are is the corporation a moral agent? and If the corporation is a legal person, is it also a moral person? Typically, a corporation will be described as a legal fiction, suggesting that the corporation's legally recognized personality is not also ontological fact. A second question that is posed then is How and in whose interests ought the corporation to be governed? Over the last two decades, the main attempts to answer this foundational normative question have been understood as constituting a ‘shareholder-stakeholder debate’ in business ethics.

A third topic that is addressed is employee relations in business ethics which boils down to a debate over the relative moral merits of at-will employment terms and just cause employment terms, especially in light of the place each occupies in employment law. The debate over at-will employment is a debate not about what employers and employees ought or ought not to do, but instead about the merits of taking the terms of employment continuation out of the realm of contract and into the realm of public policy. Some view the just-cause as better though because the default rule on the grounds that behavioral economics research shows that people are influenced heavily by default rules and default choices. In addition, people tend to regard benefits they already possess as more important than those they can bargain for.

One of the final issues that this article touches upon is ethics within international business. Some of the issues facing this are that ethical norms differ from country to country, for example customs, traditions and in more importantly how businesses exchanges are made. An Important question that arises is Do you resist foreign country norms or practice them when visiting?

When it comes to business ethics, most criticism is focused on the large, publicly traded corporation. It owes its prescriptions mainly to normative political philosophy, rather than moral theory. It speaks more to public policy toward business and the institutions of capitalism than it does to ethical business conduct.

This article relates to class discussion in that it obviously raises some basic questions of ethics. If a business corporation does something wrong or looks bad to its publics…does the legal system and laws treat that corporation as a person, punishing certain or all individuals or does it punish it as a corporation as a whole, or legal fiction? This same situation can be applied to our personal every day lives outside of the business setting as well.

I think it would be more interesting to learn about the international business aspect of business ethics. Other cultural norms are very intriguing to me and the fact that certain U.S. norms can offend other country's norms and can make it hard to conduct business matters is obviously an issue. What methods can be approach to help us better understand other cultures norms? And why is our norms sometimes considered superior to other culture’s norms? Also, who is the right person to blame when a corporation messes up?

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License