I’ve started this blog as my own attempt to study and consider the topic of business ethics. For instance, a small business owner may have his or her decision affect his or her customer base as well as his or her employee base. Ethical theory, including virtue theory and Kantian deontology, is useful for thinking about how individuals should relate to each other in the context of business (cf. What ascribing agency and responsibility to firms enables us to do, according to Hasnas, is blame and punish them.
And as you may have noticed, business corporations play a pretty significant role on university campuses these days, and especially at business schools. Our Code of Business Ethics states that we shall take measures to avoid supporting corrupt transactions. Accenture’s Ethics & Compliance program is designed to (i) foster the highest ethical standards and a commitment to compliance with the law and policy, (ii) prevent, detect, report and address any allegation of misconduct, and (iii) comply with applicable laws and standards. The authors’ goal is to engage the student by focusing on cases and business scenarios that students already find interesting.
Specifically, to claim there is no role, there is no relationship or interaction between the business and an individual, and the individual will not be impacted by the actions of the business. Critics of divestment worry about the effects of divestment on innocent third parties (Donaldson 1989) and about the efficacy of divestment in forcing social change (Teoh, Welch, & Wazzan 1999).
I also have the sense that this is a relatively recent consideration: especially in the field of marketing, the notion of an ongoing relationship seems to be a relatively recent one – or perhaps the popularity of the notion is only increased of late, as it seems to be that many people in business have considered relationships long before it was fashionable to do so. As such, the notion of relationship and its impact on ethics may be a largely unexplored topic.
Back at the dawn of time, when I was in business school, Johnson & Johnson was held up as the gold standard for handling product recalls, for its swift response when cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules in a handful of Chicago-area stores caused seven consumer deaths in 1982. Alex: Well you’ve got to be very careful with the notion of responsibility; there are several ideas in play. The aim of ethics is develop a body of moral standards that a person feels reasonable to hold based on careful thought.