The answer is No. Adherence to ethics can never be an impediment to business success in the long run. Adherence to ethical business strategy though sometimes can have sometimes short term losses but in the long run establishment of positive image of the company to the public is much more important than short term gains. The recent Paul A Volcker-led United Nations' Independent Inquiry Committee's report on how former Iraq President Saddam Hussein abused the UN Oil for Food Programme has turned into a huge embarrassment for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government and Foreign Minister Natwar Singh.
To be successful in business the following factors are very important -Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Ethos means trust. Pathos means empathy and understanding. Logos means logic. First and most important, potential customers must trust the company and its reputation. Lacking this, they won't do business. The emergence of business ethics is similar to other management disciplines.
As commerce became more complicated and dynamic, organizations realized they needed more guidance to ensure their dealings supported the common good and did not harm others -- and so business ethics was born. Companies large and small, the public sector and even civil society organisations are being held accountable in more ways and for a wider variety of things than ever before. Corporate responsibility is not just about comparatively simple questions of corporate governance, business ethics and corporate philanthropy, but also the practical requirement to balance stakeholder expectations. The challenges surrounding corporate responsibility are complex, fascinating, full of dilemmas and directly affect long term business success.
Value judgements on specific actions categorised as 'unethical' or 'improper', are only contextually relevant. Culture will either approve of or condemn particular modes of behaviour according to prevailing norms. After all, ethics is subject to perception. One cannot rationally...