Ethical situations require that businesses make choices out of competing interests. It is in the best interests of businessmen to foster virtue oriented ethical mindset. The paper will explore various ethical virtues in business field. The paper proposes the argument that the development if a universal law governing business ethics is difficult. Realization of ethics thus depends on the virtues of the practitioners in the areas of businesses. Still, the paper fosters the argument that ethics is individual born, and depends mostly on how individuals respond to situations.
The exact meaning of ethics is hard to capture. What is “ethical” varies from place to place depending on the culture and environment. For that reason, it would be an exercise in futility for this paper to make a case for some universal code of ethics. However, scholars are still entangled in the struggle of finding a comprehensive way of describing ethics. Fundamentally, ethical behavior aims to create harmonious coexistence between individuals in a social and professional setting like work or business areas. We can only hope that our laws reflect the ethical standards that we think are important. Ethics refers to a body of standards of wrong and right, borne, not out of a requirement to obey a rule but for the sake of goodness and justice and fairness. Concerns about ethics cut across the whole sphere of society – from the household to the workplace to places of worship et al. So long as people interact, the question of how best to come within reach of their interaction and create an environment that is conducive will always arise.
Business ethics is generally beached on the work of Aristotle that premises on the virtue-ethics. This paper explores the possibility of developing a strategy that can be employed to measure ethics in the field of business. The paper intends to develop empirical measures that provide a basis for future relationship between virtues and professional outcome.
Dobson (2007) argued that for successful application of virtues in business, there is need for the practices of business to be practiced in accordance with the rules of virtues or code of ethics that base on conditional assessment and rationality. The practicality of the ethics depends on the type of activity, character, and motivation of the people engaged. The biggest challenge that inhibits the practice of virtue ethics is the inability of organizations to educate their managers on the benefits of virtue-based ethics. Still, effective management requires that morally inclusive excellence. The excellence here is not book- based but accrues from the common societal practices of integrity and professionalism (Dobson, 2007, pg. 34).
Some ethics scholars argue that ethics as of philosophy, involves two types of principles that comprise deltiology and teleology. Detelogical principles assume that behaviors are inherently right or wrong. For this reason, it is the responsibility others to determine the ethicality of actions of others. On the other hand, teleological principles consider the consequences of actions, decisions as based on expected rewards or punishments. In business, many scholars believe that managers apply delelogical and teleological criteria when making ethical judgments. Several scales are used to measure ethics including cognitive moral scales, developmental scales, developmental scales, multi-dimensional scales among others (Shanan& Hyman 2003). However, how accurate are these scales in the measure of morality?
Dobson (2007) writes that ethics can be integrated into business in two ways. One way is through action-based approach and the other way through established rules, that governs the management’s actions. The established are usually enshrined in the business’ code of conduct or code of ethics. In contrary to the established rules, the action-based approach leaves ethics as a concern of the character and motivations of the person concerned. In this view, moral behavior separates from the law constrains and adopts individual rationality as the premise of operation.
The second approach defines ethics as “central to the rationality concept as an objective rather than a constraint” (Dobson, 2007, p. 1). The methodology agent based approaches of ethics accrues from virtue-ethics theory. Virtue refers to the ideal traits required of an agent. Virtues include traits such as courage, honesty, integrity among others. These values lie in a spectrum of good to bad. On the farthest of good are values of honor such as the goods, honesty, integrity, etc while the exact opposite are values not desirable such as cowardice, rashness, dishonesty among others. The virtuous ethicist is involved in a duel between balancing actions such that decision-making process becomes laden with excellence of character in a consortium of attributes.
Virtue ethics involves the process of practicing a holistic moral excellence. In the words of Aristotle, virtue ethics is termed as “eudemonia” that translates to happiness or state of human moral triumph. Aristotle wrote two essays on ethics. One is called the Nicomachean ethics while the other is called “eudomonia” ethics. Although the two ethics are named differently, they both champion for the role of human character as the premise of ethical standards. Aristotle’s, argument on ethics borrows greatly from Plato’s argument on moral philosophy. In his view, Plato posits that moral thinking works together with human emotions and ethics. Aristotle distinct himself from Plato ethical treaties that makes the argument ethics is not a theoretical discipline, but a combination of goods that are classified as either the good or highest good. The desirability good thus becomes the representation of ethical standard (Acevedo, 2013). Dobson (2007) records Aristotle’s virtue theory constituting four basic attributes. The attributes included:
- Strong reliance on some conventionally accepted virtues of character. Aristotle believed that an individual can only be morally upright after mastering basic values of life
- Another aspect of virtue ethics relied on the presence of an active community that has certain moral guidelines. The community becomes a laboratory where ethics are nourished and practiced.
- The third aspect of virtue ethics posits that morality is not restricted to societal rules or guidelines. Morality of is at discretion of an individual to exercise judgment based on rationality and conscience.
- Successful recognition and imitation of role models is essential for propagation of morality within the community.
Rajeev (2012) reported that virtues of accounting comprise those qualities of character that manifests the ideals of the accounting community, and are instrumental in ensuring that accountants’ professional judgment is exercised according to a high moral ideal. Still, the lack of valid and reliable quantitative measures of accounts virtues impedes the pursuit of ideal moral character. However, Rajeev reason, “virtue is the manifestation of a community’s ideal” (Rajeev, 2012).
Conventional business rules base on the code of conduct establishment by the business community that premises on the codes, and possibility that the produces are public for all the professionals in the field. Mêlée (2005) argued that the values and virtues are interrelated forming a coherent unit. He goes ahead to say that the business field should reconsider ethics by comparing ethics in business and comparing by the values of the society. In addition, it is important for one realize that the virtues do not depend on the knowledge of the rules but personal moral development. The primary role of ethical education is to show virtues, and motivate students to realize the importance of virtues.
In addition to the common values, there are other aspects of business ethics that a firm must seek to realize growth. The fist one is competency. Competency refers to the behaviors that individuals possesses or must possess to perform work. Competency, therefore, focuses on the individual’s input and the outcome thereof. Measuring competency requires what is usually defined as competency structure. The competency structure is a framework that defines the company’s expectation on each individual. Denis and Andres (2013) wrote about the learning and growth development. According to them, the growth and development is a framework for quantitatively assessing employee satisfaction, productivity, and relation in the framework of scorecard balance. The learning and growth method emphasizes measures not only as employee’s behaviors but also in developmental terms at work.
According to Mêlée (2005), contemporary frameworks are gaining ground in corporations all over the world. Over sixty percent of organizations have established company framework for their employees. Forty eight percent of companies that have not established competency are planning to do so in the coming years. Competencies frameworks cultivate skills such as communication skills, people management skills, team skills, and competency skills that are vital for the success of companies to today. In a way, ethics go hand in hand with competency. It would be absurd to talk about ethics.
Measurements of appraisals performance premise on the belief that improved work quality from the worker leads to an increase in pay (Duane, 2013). Duane writes that the performance appraisal is something that happens continuously at work. Performance appraisal includes assessing how workers are performing and rewarding them for competence. Effective appraisal drive performance includes aspects such as reviewing past experience, helping workers improve, identifying, and developing needs, improving communications, and allowing the employees to express their feelings. The focus of t appraisals drive argument is that individual’s number one motivational factor is money. Rajeev refute the argument that money increments insinuate performance. According to them, pay for work incentives have unintended side effects that are not often pleasant. These side effects usually undermine the company’s real objectives and goals. “The bottom line is that any approach that offers a reward for better performance is destined to be ineffective (Rajeev, 2012).
According to Dobson, (2007), corporate culture refers to shared beliefs, values, and behaviors that a firm subscribes. This beliefs, values, and expected behavior provide a foundation upon which a firm is managed. The organizations executives articulate cultural statements to the workers. Usually, firms with a strong corporate culture outperform those without a strong corporate culture. Because culture is relative, organizations have the power to create culture that fits organizations objectives. Corporate culture plays out in various ways. Company’s culture can be distinct in ways such as the way they handle communication, feedback, project coordination, or customer relations (Dobson, 2007). In some cases, corporate culture is visible in the way an organization is structured. Some companies emphasize servant leadership while others focus on teamwork; others promote basing on appraisals while others promote basing on future objectives. In many cases, culture is also defined by the nature of the competition and by the desire of the company to be like the rest or to form a unique identity (Shanan& Hyman 2003).
De Cremer and Claude argue that the articulation of a corporation’s culture would be meaningless if a strong leadership is missing. Leaders of a corporation must be aware of the required culture in a corporation and determine ways in which the culture is understood by all sections for the firm. Leaders must also play the role models by exhibiting behaviors that are demonstrable of the organization’s goals (De Cremer & Claude, 2013).
Duane (2013) write that successful companies do not satisfy customers, they work hard to please them. Superior customer values means continually creating a business experience that exceed the ordinary expectations (Duane, 2013). In his view, value is the strategic driver that most multinational corporations utilize to differentiate themselves from the rest in the view of customers. In the abstract form, values means the excellence usually based on desirability or usefulness (Duane, 2013). Ormerod and Ulrich (2013) report that a value driven marketing strategy help organizations in several areas including but not limited to strategy.
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