The place of ethics in business cannot be overlooked. Indeed, it is said that energy and intellect without ethics is destructive. In the modern industrial times where competition has tremendously increased and an increased technology application, the place of ethics in business needs to be reinforced and guarded jealously.
Competitive data refers to the information that is legally and ethically collected concerning the competitor’s position in relation to the capabilities, vulnerabilities, intentions, strengths and threats, among others. This information is useful for the organisation in the strategic planning and policy formulation. However, it should be noted that competitive data, though useful and valuable ought to be collected within the dictates of the law and following the ethical demands in business. It is the contention of this paper that ethics should guide the process of competitive data collection and even its analysis, synthesis and application. This position is premised on the fact that markets being free as it is in capitalist systems, it is incumbent on the organizations practising within the same market to ensure that competition occurs within the dictates of a free market. It is also expected that market players protect and jealously guard the act of fair play. For fair play and equality to prevail, it would be important for the players to act within ethical dictates. Ethics not only ensures free and fair play, it also creates stability and perpetuity in business. These features are essential in the overall progression of any system including the business systems. Even as competitive data collection gathers currency, it remains essential for ethical principles and values to be upheld and followed to the letter.
The responsibility to ensure ethical behaviour are observed in the conduct of external organisational analysis lies with a number of different roles and role players. The main responsibility, however, lies with the management. This can be explained by the fact that the information deduced and collected from an external organisational analysis is meant for consumption primarily by the management. They, therefore, inform the source of the pressure and motivation to gather the data. In addition, the management also has the overall supervisory, control and guidance role on any department, the external organisational analysts being one of these departments. Another group that bear the role to ensure ethical behaviour are the specific personnel involved in the external analysis. They ought to be guided by the spirit and letter of the body of ethical theories. They must remember to discharge their duties ethically and within the dictates of the law. Finally, the community at large bears the responsibility to ensure ethical behaviour. In this context, the community refers to the third parties that the analysts relate to in collection of this data. They (community) must protect the overall interest of business and be guided by moral or ethical principles rather than merely satisfy personal or group interests of the minorities.
Organizations such as the strategic and competitive intelligence community professionals have definite roles in the global business community. For starters, they provide the collective support that is required to drive the industry towards ethical and moral applications in the business. They also provide a platform for the business community to engage each and discuss some of the underlying and arising issues on the global scale. Take, for instance, the current membership options availed by the SCIP. They provide individual, group, non-profit making and student membership. This ensures that these different categories are given the opportunity to interact with their peers and carry on a constructive dialogue. In the long run, the success in business will be achieved through a collective approach that embraces all diverse groupings and interests. These professional organizations provide a platform for advancing those courses.
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