Business regulation, business ethics and the professional employee

Journal of Business Ethics 8 (8):607 - 616 (1989)
The differences in business reactions to legal regulation, and the nature of business moralities, are examined through the eyes of an 'expert' group - in-house lawyers. The research indicates that lawyers inevitably provide a degree of control through their technical expertise, but that they also identify strongly with their companies and emphasise shared ethics rather than ethical differences between lawyers and their employers. This can partly be explained by their integration with the company but also rests on the problematic nature of law and regulatory controls in relation to organisations within the community. In-house lawyers therefore reject a 'policing' role in favour of a 'counselling' role. Since they perceive themselves as part of a shared culture of ethics, they also avoid a leadership role. However, the article suggests that the nature of legal judgment should assist lawyers towards such a role, while recognising that organisational 'statesmanship' must be constrained by organisational culture and the wider community culture of ethical standards
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