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Ethics from the top: top management and ethical business

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Codes of ethics and conduct typically demand the highest standard of ethical behaviour from every single employee. This implies a democratic or lobbyist understanding of ethics in business. The contrasting view would argue that business ethics is an elitist undertaking that can only be instigated from the top, by managing directors or owner managers. This article looks at three types of ethical businesses, three types of approaches to ethical problem-solving, and three possible incentives for ethical business to see which of the above is more convincing. It will be argued that the impulse for value-driven business has to come from the top. Only top management and owner managers have the opportunity to foster major change in business practice.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Lancaster University

Publication date: July 1, 2002


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