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New Agenda for Business Ethics

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This handbook does not intend to be just another book in the field of business ethics. It is against the mainstream conception that ethics is only an instrument for improving business functioning. The authors of the book do not believe that ethics is something that should be introduced as a value added in business. We look at ethics as being fundamental to economic activities. For us ethics is a relevant aspect at all levels of economic activity – from individual and organizational to societal and global.

In today's world the ethicality of economic actions is often highly questionable and in many respects unacceptable. The ethicality of the economy should be considerably improved but there is a paradox here. If we want to develop the ethicality of our economic affairs only as a means to achieving higher efficiency, we ultimately fail. We have a chance to improve the general quality of our economic activities only if our motivation is genuinely ethical; that is, only if we want to realize ethical conduct for its own sake.

The approach advanced in this book is contextual and agent-centered. In our view economic actions are jointly determined by the agents and the context in which they are functioning. Agents and context evolve together, so if we want to change the ethicality of economic actions, we should target both the ethical make-up of the agents and the rules and regularities of the context in which they play.

This introductory chapter aims to present the most important propositions that the authors developed throughout the book. The reader should realize that the propositions listed below form an integrated whole and ultimately provide a new agenda for academic research, corporate action and public policy, with the aim of improving ethics in the economy.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2007

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