Conflict of interest and the talmud

Journal of Business Ethics 78 (1-2):237 - 246 (2008)
A core value of Judaism is leading an ethical life. The Talmud, an authoritative source on Jewish law and tradition, has a number of discussions that deal with honesty in business and decision-making. One motive that can cause individuals to be unscrupulous is the presence of a conflict of interest. This paper will define, discuss, and review five Talmudic concepts relevant to conflict of interest. They are (1) Nogea B’Davar (being an interested party), (2) V’hiyitem N’keyim (behaving to ensure that one is above suspicion) (3) Lifnei Iver (placing a stumbling block before the blind), (4) Shokhad (accepting a bribe), and (5) Geneivat Da’at (deception and undeserved goodwill). Case examples will be used to apply these Talmudic principles to contemporary business practice. This will include discussion of these Talmudic concepts as it applies to specific contemporary business examples relevant to the boardroom, accounting firms, investment banking, politics, and government. It may be impossible to eliminate all conflicts of interest. However, knowledge and awareness of these Talmudic principles can help individuals in business settings better address the ethical issues that they confront.
Keywords business  conflict of interest  ethics  Jewish law  religion  Talmud
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