Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Master's November 2001

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In today's world, it is important for companies to foster ethical decision-making.

Ethics is relevant to business. Whilst 'Ethics' commonly refers to 'the rules or principles that define right and wrong conduct'. Ethics deals with human activity. It is not a single, simple concept but can be best understood by considering a number of perspectives: · Ethics can be viewed as philosophy - i.e. philosophical thinking on morality, moral problems and moral judgments.

· Ethics can be defined as a study of what is good or right for people, what goals they ought to pursue and what actions they ought to perform.

· Ethics can be viewed as concerning itself with human conduct or activity that is done knowingly or consciously.

· Other definitions of ethics refer to actions and practices directed towards improving the welfare of people and attaining a good standard of living.

'Business Ethics' refers to 'the application and examination of morality by individuals with respect to management or business decisions'.

"The effort to prove why business ethics is not an oxymoron displaces the innate responsibility people have to behave morally. It must be acknowledged that ethics are a way of life."� (Guerrette, 1988, p.374). Ethical behaviour must be governed by rules. As individuals will often gain short-term advantage by departing from the standards of conduct generally observed by their peers. Therefore, behaviour can be deemed unethical if it undermines the integrity or reputation of markets, industries or professions.

There are three distinctly different views on ethics: · Utilitarian View of Ethics Utilitarian View of Ethics in which decisions are made solely on the basis of their outcomes or consequences. The goals are to provide the greatest good for the greatest number. For example, a manager might conclude that laying off 20% of the workforce is...