The Success of Business Ethics

A moral philosophy that would allow one to systematize, defend, and develop concepts of right and wrong behavior is how James Fieser defines ethics in his 2014 article (Fieser 2014). For over ten years ethics has been present in our society, in fact ethics have been a sector of philosophy for centuries (Morrison 2011). More than half of the ethic theories that are being practiced by business professionals today were developed by Aquinas, Aristotle, Buber, Frankl, Kant, Kohlberg, Mill, and Pawls. This group of philosophers became known as the “Big 8” (Morrison 2011). In the early years of A.D., these individuals were developing theories and concepts. (Morrison 2011). We can provide sufficient evidence that supports the fact concerning the existence of ethical concepts which have been around for quite some time, business ethics on the other hand only date back to the twentieth century (Holland & Albrecht 2013).  With ethical behavior being polluted by corporate America, can business ethics succeed in today’s unethical society? Yes, I believe despite its short presence among societies concepts, business ethics are rich with history and destine to succeed in today’s unethical culture, but it is imperative that clear reasoning, analysis, and development penetrate fields of academia, psychology, healthcare, and corporate America.

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In the early twentieth century, business ethics began to appear in academia during the materialization of business schools that were becoming available to the public (Abend 2013). In 1904, the Universities of California and Yale began addressing their students on the importance of business ethics (Abend 2013). During the 1960’s, fear was ignited among the corporate world do to the exposure of many corporate scandals. A revolution emerged, that resulted in business ethics becoming a required course for students studying business. Business ethics became important for the students entering into the workforce (Abend 2013). In 1961, R.C.Baumhart, a doctoral student at Harvard conducted research to answer the question of “How Ethical are Businessmen?” (Ciulla 2011). As a result of his research, he received information indicating that executives desired knowledge that would assist in improving the ethical practices of their employees (Ciulla 2011).

            Business schools have progressively adhered to the challenge of qualifying student to deal with ethical issues that may arise during an organizational life (Nelson et al 2012). Thru this process the schools are ensuring that future business graduates are equipped with the tools and skills to manage ethical issues successfully (Nelson et al 2012). Edward O’Boyle and Luca Sandonà (2014) used their teaching experience to experiment with popular featured films in order to get students to understand the different ethical areas. The experiment rested on four pillars: popular feature films, a six-stage ethical decision-making process, the principles necessary to address ethical situations, and the classroom instructor (O’Boyle 2014).  Their findings concluded that not only were there improvements in the students’ critical thinking skills, their ability to make sound moral judgments increased as well (O’Boyle 2014). The development of these skills are an asset to today’s business world. A recent poll asked professors of the top business schools around the country to derive a list of the 20 worst CEO’s (Rutherford et al 2012). As a result, 9 of the top ten CEO’s were on the list due to unethical habits practiced (Rutherford et al 2012).  Porter (2010) stated that high unemployment, rising poverty, and the public’s dismay over corporate greed took a toll on the public’s faith in not only the fidelity, but also the trustworthiness of businesses. Just to simplify, business ethics theoretical play a major role in people and what they think concerning the economy.

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Merriam-Webster (2014) defined psychology as the science of the mind and behavior. It was previously stated that ethics was the concepts of right and wrong to a person (Fieser 2014).

“Business ethics, management, and law all focus on providing reasoned, coherent answers to the questions of how and for whom managers should manage” is a quote stated from Eastman (2013). There are moral problems inherent in business and human nature that make ethics a constant struggle, regardless of the business cycle or system of regulation (Ciulla 2011). Eastman (2013) also believes that there is an ideology in business ethics that people need to have some type of reliability and validity that the people may have lost in the recent scandals that have surfaced in the media. Such type of ideology may have the ability to change the ‘mind’ of the people that the business world has destroyed in believing in business (Eastman 2013). This ideology was developed by a few social psychologist, which established theoretical perspectives that attacked many areas in ethics, including anti-racism practices (Eastman 2013). The eye-opening results showed there seemed to be an underrating in values such as loyalty, authority, and purity directly related to fairness and care for others (Eastman 2013). Recent influences to business ethics pressured a re-imagination of the field wherein economic goals are downgraded and more attention given to redistribution of wealth and well-being of the weaker individuals and groups (Poruthiyil 2013). Unfortunately, there has been a social psychology that is being exemplified, an us-versus-them complex (Haidt 2012).

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In essence, it is causing a righteous state of mind, not as a Christian belief of a person being upright in their ways; but one of a self-righteous and causing an ideological way of thinking and feeling (Haidt 2012). There warrants a belief that have lost sight in beneficence and maleficence and have lost focus on the value of doing well and not doing harm (Morrison 2011). Business ethics look as if it has recently turned a corner (Poruthiyil 2013). In some of the areas of business ethics, there has been a significant agreement to subsume economic objectives within the larger goal of ensuring a positive contribution to the well-being of individuals in less developed contexts (Poruthiyil 2013). In the business world, it is believed that the healthcare industry is all about the well-being of people and it is up to the executives and the healthcare administrators to ensure that those ethical practices are being met.

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Healthcare Administers working in the positions such as CEO have found that ethics is more important than ever before (Dahnke 2013). Healthcare Administrators have found that having a positive image of providing great services and phenomenal ethical practices have been more prevalent now than ever before (Dahnke 2013). Having an ethical physician in the healthcare business is detrimental to the success of the healthcare facility and the job of that healthcare executive (Dahnke 2013). The media, such as television, has been a major factor in the distinction of quality; and people are able to easily look up and see ethical discrepancies. The problem appear to arise when it comes to developing regulations that will bring beneficence and maleficence for both the physicians and the patients (Gabriele 2011). Ethic leaders are looking to evidence-based practices in research that are deemed as ethical practices which will be overall beneficial to the majority (Gabriele 2011). Because of the importance and diversified roles in the ethical leadership bodies in the research, healthcare, and other administrative systems, there is need for an enhancement of understanding the nature of ethics itself and how ethics stimulates the best of all the value systems (Gabriele 2011). There has been a growing evidence of the need for such practices in the corporate arena.

Corporate governance was developed to consist of the roles, responsibilities, and the balance of power among the management departments including executives, directors, and the shareholders (Ryan et al 2010). Yet, there have been several incidents where there was some CEO in the media that was involved in unethical practices (Rutherford et al 2012). Recently, there are a couple that may come to mind that have performed unethical in while in leadership, and it came with a major price. For example, Ken Lay, who was the CEO of Enron, caused his stockholder and investors to lose about $60 billion due to his deceiving practices (Rutherford et al 2012). He was then quickly followed by WorldCom’s CEO, Bernie Ebbers, who engaged in accounting fraud that resulted in fraud in the amount of $11 billion (Rutherford 2012).

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Because of the bad imagery those CEOs and others have done, there needed to be something done to fix the foul perception that has been placed on corporate America. Transitional economies, like the United States, are finding that moral degradation have been complicating the firms’ commitment in ethical and social conduct (Zheng et al 2014). To help in this evolution in transition, the government has been taking an active role in developing laws and regulations to ensure proper ethical practices (Ryan et al 2010). In recent years, shareholders have taking a more active role and increased their power of picking board directors and executives to run their company in a more proper way (Ryan et al 2010). In doing this, CEOs have lost a considerable amount of Autonomy and decision making power; and many have felt that they are having a harder time to gain control and maintain their compensation (Ryan et al 2010).

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Corporate governance has now shifted its attention to agencies and company’s problem with their overall ethical practices, having more accountability, transparency, responsibility, and disclosure (Aggarwal 2011). Implementing a healthy board creates dynamics in which everyone is engaged and listening, adding value, supportive of open and reliable consideration of ideas and participating in balanced ways (Aggarwal 2011). If these developments continue, there is no doubt there the corporation industries will gain the trust of all.

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There is no doubt that business ethics is in every aspect of the world. There is a great deal of importance for academia to provide the tools necessary for future business leaders to have in order to become successful while the business world is going through its transitioning phase. Furthermore, it is important for the psychology of the society be fully examined and used to propel the ideal of reliability back into the minds of the people who have lost faith in the trustworthiness of the business leaders. There is a need to see how the minds and behaviors’ of people operate to rekindle the feeling of fidelity back in the business industry. Having a great image is a concept that the healthcare knows all too well, but it is not just for the healthcare business industry. It is a universal concept for all types of business; and media plays a major role in whether a business will be portrayed in positive or a negative light. Lastly, it is vital that the corporate facet of business continue to strive for a stronger ethical foundation. Proper governance of these industry must not get relaxed in enforces the proper practices of the management department and hold them responsible. If all these things are review, examined, and practiced business ethics will show through stronger than ever.

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