Oversight ethics: The case of business licensing [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 53 (4):371-381 (2004)
Abstract
The ethics research community has all but ignored issues of oversight ethics – the vices and virtues of overseers. This study develops a conceptual framework for exploring the ethics of oversight and provides insights into the design of codes of ethics for oversight institutions and for overseers. Analysis of business licensing in Israel reveals prospective and retrospective oversight ethics problems at the levels of national and local policy and implementation: Overseers failed to act on knowledge of breaches of business licensing stipulations and took action known to be slow and ineffective; policymakers neglected their duty to enact significant policy change in an oversight system that was clearly not working. Partially as a result of these oversight failures, over one third of Israeli businesses are unlicensed, 23 people were killed in the collapse of an unlicensed banquet hall, 2 major fires erupted in the same shopping mall, and a fire in a fertilizer warehouse very nearly became a mega-disaster.
Keywords audit ethics  business licensing  business permits  oversight  oversight ethics  licensing  oversight policy
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