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Making profits and sweet music

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This paper seeks to provide a practical theoretical setting for ethics in business. The perspective is that of the strategic practitioner rather than the moral philosopher. It seeks to take account of the currently dominant business influences of rapid technological development and globalisation and the resultant new form of stakeholder organisation.

From this perspective it is clear that being perceived as trustworthy is seen as vital to long term business success. There are various corporate actions that are taken to ensure that organisations are perceived in this way and this paper reports those which were identified during interviews with executives in leading UK companies.

The research found little support for corporate philanthropy involving firms investing in ‘good works’ unrelated to their business activities. The main focus was on setting standards of behaviour and achieving a high degree of openness and transparency between stakeholders made subject to independent audit and report. These practical initiatives do not rest on any knowledge and understanding of moral philosophy.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management at Keele University

Publication date: July 1, 2000

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