Finding Space to Discuss Ethics
Author: Berenbeim, Ronald
Source: Interdisciplinary Yearbook of Business Ethics, Issue data not provided , pp. 205-207(3)
Abstract:Luk Bouckaert's “ethics management paradox” correctly identifies the tendency of social responsibility and sustainability proponents to present moral dilemmas “as problems of rational choice, social engineering or instrumental efficiency.” If, as these concepts suggest, good ethics is good business, does it not then follow that business success affirms the virtue of the methods used to achieve it? The equation of success with virtue is an old argument that has never been persuasively made. It has been presented most recently to U.S. juries that for the most part have not found it convincing.
The sustainability concept is a good first step in alerting decision-makers to the potential ethical considerations of a business choice. Most business ethics problems confront the practitioner with a choice of whether or not to exploit certain kinds of temporary or permanent market failures such as monopolies or information asymmetries. An ethical decision in this context entails the exercise of moral restraint – a practice that corporate social responsibility and sustainability advocates counsel in certain situations. Yet they do not appear fully cognizant of all of the alternatives and of the significant losses that the exercise of moral restraint can entail. If such risk did not exist, the actor would not be confronted with an ethical problem, and there would be no need for further discussion.
Thus, although the corporate social responsibility and sustainability arguments are presented as ethical concepts, they do not confront the decision-maker with the full range of consequences that ethical reasoning requires. Indeed, the implication of these rationales is that ethical problems do not really exist. Instead, such situations are presented as strategic rather than moral dilemmas. For adherents of these views, ethical issues are like any other business process concern, such as marketing, sales, or finance. They are problems to be solved through the exercise of rational analysis – another job for consultants, as Bouckaert nicely puts it.
Document Type: Research Article
- Interdisciplinary Yearbook of Business Ethics
This volume comprises the work of twenty scholars and practitioners from Europe, America, Asia and Africa. Contributors represent a diversity of fields including organizational science, economics, systems theory, personality psychology, business ethics, finance, management, philosophy, political science, sociology, and ecology. All the papers stand for a more human and ethical approach to economics and business.
- Submit a Paper
- Purchase hard copy print edition
- Learn more about Peter Lang @ GSE Research
- ingentaconnect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites