An historical overview of the United Nations sustainable development initiative reflects a convergence of political and ethical concerns, and a need to incorporate business and the ethics of business into an inclusive perspective. Underlying all of the resolutions and recommendations ensuing from that initiative is the age-old question of “the one and the many,” with which theology and philosophy have grappled for centuries, and sociology and politics in more recent times. Inherent to sustainable development is a need to overcome that (...) question, especially with respect to the power of the wealthier nations. Good old American Pragmatism offers a solution which, at once, respects individual and communal sovereignty while positing a dynamic interaction between the two. That interaction offers an optimistic approach to global business and to global business ethics. (shrink)
The debate on sustainable globalized development rests on two clearly stated economic assumptions: that "development" proceeds, solely and inevitably, through industrialization and the proliferation of capital intensive high-technology, towards the creation of service sector economies; and that globalization, based on a neoliberal, capitalist, free market ideology, provides the only vehicle for such development. Sustainability, according to the proponents of globalized development, is merely a function of market forces, which will generate the solutions for all problems including the environmental dilemmas that (...) loom over the globe today. The social focus of globalized development is clearly the "individual" and the much-touted goal of development in the context of these debates, is the emancipation of the individual from want. This glorification of the individual, so characteristic of the Enlightenment, has defined all aspects of modernity, leading to approaches that are self-focused and that give little thought to the needs of society or even the social context. The increasing impoverishment of human life and the growing environmental degradation, however, provide a poignant counterpoint to this onrush of capital interests, demanding a reassessment of sustainability separate from the logic of industrialization and globalized development. This paper examines the unfolding of the logic of capitalism, which underlies the structure of the Rostowian model of development and the problems in the assumptions underlying today''s globalized development process. The evident impossibility of sustainability in the current growth-based market system leads to the examination of alternatives including a reflexive understanding of the choices and the inclusion of opportunity costs, related to the social, environmental and economic aspects of decision making. The integration of all factors of production into the logic of development provides a sustainable alternative to the current system. (shrink)
This paper introduces the special issue of papers selected from those presented at the International Conference on Business Ethics in Transitional Economies, held March 20–22, 2002 in Celakovice and Prague, Czech Republic. A brief background on the conference is given, and a summary of the papers offered in this special issue is provided.
Distributive, procedural, and interactional justice are constructs that are increasingly being recognized as important factors that affect individual perceptions in the workplace environment. This paper presents a theoretical perspective that suggests that justice is perceived through a subjective lens that consists of individualized beliefs and proposes that cultural attributes and demographic characteristics play an integral part in determining the perception of justice. The distinctions between these three constructs are presented in context with the core beliefs of individual (...) employees – affected by a multitude of perceptual and demographic factors that we briefly identify herein. Based on the theoretical perspective, an instrument that measures the constructs of justice as perceived by individuals was developed. With a focus on justice within the business setting, hypotheses about attitudes related to justice were tested. Survey results confirm that the three constructs of justice are distinct but correlated. Significant differences were found in the perceptions of African-American respondents with regard to procedural justice. Although the empirical findings do not support all the hypotheses, this research highlights the need for further development of measures to assess the perception of justice in business settings and at an applied level, underscores the importance of recognizing cultural attributes and demographic characteristics in understanding how justice is perceived. (shrink)
Maslow and Csikszentmihalyi interpret human experience through a broad application of stakeholder theory to provide an expanded framework for ethical business. The aggressive search for mutuality of interest can reconcile conflicting stakeholder needs. Maslow's religious peak experiences work in tandem with Csikszentmihalyi's psychological optimal experiences (flow) to support the proposition that transcendence is an achievable goal, both for individuals and for corporations.
Rather than eliciting behavioral expectations of individuals for an appreciation of organizational ethics, we are focusing on the organization itself and the manner in which distinctive organizational structures assume their own respective behavioral expectations. The hierarchical organizational structure emphasizes obedience while the participative organizational structure emphasizes cooperation. Imposing the ethical virtues of one organizational structure onto another leads to conflict, and that conflict is reflective of a basic injustice which is (indirectly) organizational in cause but (directly) personal in effect. This (...) more conceptual argument is readily identified in the difficulties encountered by pastoral ministers in Catholic hospitals, especially by women chaplains. (shrink)
How do we determine value? What are the ethical implications of valuing goods and services with respect to economic profit maximization? To answer those questions, Primeaux and Stieber move their discussion of the ethical principles inherent to economic profit maximization from production to distribution, from internal costs to external pricing and consumer demand.
Economic profits differ from accounting profits. Accounting profits are usually defined as revenues minus costs, and those costs as fixed and variable. Economic profits enlist a third cost, opportunity costs. While these costs are difficult to determine with mathematical precision, they are nonetheless significant, especially for decision making in business. They reflect social costs and benefits, tensions between individual and corporate interests, and all internal and external considerations which enter into decision making in business. It is precisely within opportunity cost (...) decision making that Primeaux and Stieber situate business ethics. (shrink)
The authors propose a model for business ethics which arises directly from business practice. This model is based on a behavioral definition of the economic theory of profit maximization and situates business ethics within opportunity costs. Within that context, they argue that good business and good ethics are synonymous, that ethics is at the heart and center of business, that profits and ethics are intrinsically related.
There is a tendency to think of ethics as a universal body of principles governing human behavior. Richard R. Niebuhr challenges this universalist perspective by examining the development of human consciousness as an individual enterprise originating in immediate human experience. His conclusions lead us towards an understanding of conscience as likewise individual and experiential. It also enables us to identify a corporate consciousness or conscience which accounts for, yet prescinds, individual differences. In effect, Niebuhr''s thinking in these matters provides us (...) with a chart or blueprint for better ethical decision-making in business situations. (shrink)
Current teaching, writing and thinking in business ethics reflects (more than) a tendency to subsume business into the theoretical, idealistic and impractical objectives of philosophical ethics. Professors Primeaux and Stieber argue against this tendency. They propose the basic business model of economic efficiency as a practical and appropriate paradigm for business ethics. Understood from a behavioral perspective, economic efficiency reflects all of the ethical considerations of the academic study of philosophical ethics, but in a much more concrete and applicable manner. (...) In effect, they are proposing that any study of business ethics defines its starting point and focus of reference in terms of economic efficiency. qu]Is there a need for business ethics? Yes, of course! Can business ethics be taught? Well, yes. But ... But, what? But, how? (shrink)