Business Ethics: Perspectives, Management and Issues
Recent evidence readily confirms that ethical conduct in human interaction has declined in the context of business, but also in virtually every phase of life. An alarming number of government leaders at all levels have demonstrated by their conduct that their primary goal is the pursuit of self-interest for themselves, their party, and their constituents – regardless of whether the choices they make are in the long-term best interests of those whom they are obligated to serve.
Academic institutions and their leaders similarly seem to be either tied to past assumptions and traditions that seem, or blatantly out of touch with the needs of their students and the communities that they serve. Increasingly, college and university academic programs are being taught by part-time and temporary faculty who are paid less than their elementary and high school counterparts who lack their educational preparation, level of knowledge, or responsibility in preparing students for their chosen careers.
Non-governmental organizations also struggle to earn the respect of the public, and their trustworthiness has been called into question as chief executive officers and staff receive high salaries, but lack accountability for achieving results or acting with integrity. Those who work in the media are as a group no longer trusted to provide an objective and unbiased assessment of the news. Even religious institutions are under attack and their leaders are being asked to be accountable to the standards which their doctrines advocate.
Implicit in ethical conduct is the responsibility to identify the far goals of human achievement – rather than short-term interests that undermine long-term value creation and outcomes that best serve society.
Abraham Maslow has wisely noted that the pursuit of efficiency must be evaluated in terms of the specific goals intended to be achieved, but the ramifications of individual and collective actions often seem to be out of focus, misdirected, and short-sighted.
The purpose of this book is to identify key ethics-related issues facing individuals and organizations in the 21st century, and to offer recommendations and encouragement to those who choose to raise the bar for their standards of conduct. This volume combines established thinking about ethics and morality with new insights and ethical perspectives that have never before been addressed by traditional business ethics.
The authors are comfortable in challenging the status quo and failures of so many leaders and organizations who have been unable to earn the trust of the general public. In criticizing the failures of institutions and their leaders, this book is also a plea to those who lead to rethink the standards and criteria which they have adopted about duties that they owe to others.
Many of the insights contained within this book invite readers to begin from within themselves by examining their identities and their assumptions about their ethical beliefs. The evidence about personal ethical standards suggest that individuals rarely make conscious decisions regarding their own actions, and fall into patterns that they later acknowledge to be questionable and less than ideal. This book challenges the way that leaders make decisions about moral conduct and asks those who read this book to reassess the impacts of the choices that they make.
Finally, this volume encourages readers to discover the best version of themselves. Only when people strive to achieve their highest potential are those individuals likely to optimally benefit others and create a better world. Ultimately, ethics is about each person’s responsibility to constantly improve and to help others along the way.
We trust that this book will challenge the thinking of its readers, that it will become the source of dialogue and even possible disagreement about duties and obligations. Our intention is that this book will ultimately inspire individuals to think more clearly about the way that they interact with others and how they can best fulfill their highest purpose in life.