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Business Ethics: A Managerial Approach

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What is Business Ethics?


Business ethics

By ethics we mean something right or wrong and deal with morality. Different people view ethics differently. Being ethical may not always mean to follow the laws. Business ethics is also termed as corporate ethics. In business, ethics is viewed as certain principles or morals that people must abide by or follow in the organization. Ethics is based on the five theories. They are

  • Egoism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Deontology
  • Care ethics
  • Virtue ethics
1. The Egoism theory was proposed by Ayn Rand and Adam Smith. It highlights on the fact that something can be good or bad, or it may be right or wrong depending on how it satisfies the needs and desires of a person.

2. The Utilitarianism theory was proposed by Jeremy Bentham and J.S. Mill. This theory highlights on the fact that one should do those works which will give him greatest happiness (Parboteeah & Cullen, 2013).

3. The Deontology theory was proposed by Immanuel Kant and W.D. Ross. This theory states that people should choose those works which will recognize one’s duties.

4. The Care ethics theory was proposed by Carol Gilligan and Virginia Held. The theory states that people should choose certain woks that involves taking care of another people or supporting the weaker or the vulnerable.

5. The Virtue ethics theory was proposed by Aristotle and Confucius. It highlights on the fact that the actions performed by people are in fact the traits that are embodied within the person.

Considering on the ethical theories the business also functions on these theories. Often people do something which may be unethical to the business organization, but may be ethical to the person. An example of this can be given from the following case study (Boylan, 2013).

A pharmaceutical company BioPharmaWizard limited developed a drug which could treat a certain type of cancer, the results of which have been encouraging. Patients were contacted by physicians for the application of the drug. The patients to be treated were strictly mentioned. The persons who had their surgeries in the last three months were eligible. A doctor named Hortense Rhys-Martin decided to include a patient of hers who had the surgery about six months ago. For including her in the study she even alters the date of surgery. She is of the opinion that three months restriction cannot outweigh the potential to help her patient.

 From the above case study example it can be seen that people often go beyond the organizational ethics to fulfill their personal morals and ethics which is guided by Care ethics theory. Since all the companies consist of people, so the companies like the people itself make moral mistakes. It must be noted that people develop if not guided by the rules and regulations set by the authority. People must engage in their own moral reasoning (Rothlin & Haghirian, 2013).

Business ethics is often based on the stakeholder framework which has three levels: 1)value proposition 2) principles for stakeholders 3) respect for standards of conduct. The model clearly states that

  • ethics is not a choice
  • business ethics revolves around the fact that business should be taken seriously
  • commitment must be shown towards ethics
  • the organizations must manage based on all the three levels of stakeholders framework
  • there should be n rule that a size fits all.


Boylan, M. (2013). Business Ethics. Hoboken: Wiley.

Parboteeah, P., & Cullen, J. (2013). Business ethics. New York, NY: Routledge.

Rothlin, S., & Haghirian, P. (2013). Dimensions of teaching business ethics in Asia. Berlin: Springer.


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