Business Ethics

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Business Ethics

The statement has been made that "ethics has no place

in business" and the implications of this statement and its

inferring characteristics provide a complex issue in the

operation of national and multinational corporations.

Because ethical decision making is often not as profitable

as choices that do not embrace ethical elements, the

perspective has emerged that the nature of an effective

business mindset inherently brings about unethical behavior.

In order to consider this statement and its

implications, it is necessary to recognize the ethical

decision-making processes of a number of companies, and

reflect upon the fiscal, organizational and operational

implications of ethical choices and then relate this process

to the perceived outcomes if the opposite choices were made.

As an element of this evaluation, it is also necessary to

consider the nature of morality and the progression of moral

underpinnings for business operations and the implications

as companies expand into multinational arenas.

Ethics can be described as: "the activity of examining

one's moral standards or the moral standards of a society,

and asking how these standards apply to our lives" (11).

The application of ethics in business is generally perceived

as the evaluation of individual and collective moral

standards, a reflection of societal morality, and then the

determination of business decisions that are not only based

on the efficacy of business operations, but also on these

moral standards. The problem that many corporations

perceive when pursuing the application of ethics in business

is that ethical choices are not always the most sound

business decisions. For example, when the pharmaceutical


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...issue as a whole. Individuals have a moral responsibility

to take ethical action, and there is no way of denying that

corporations are made up of individuals attempting to make

both business and ethical determinations.

Business ethics, then, must focus not only on the

issues related to preventing harm to others, but also taking

action that negates the passive process of allowing harm to

happen. In the example of Merck, the company pursued their

ethical choice not because they would be causing harm if

they did not make this determination, but because if they

did not take this action, they would be allowing harm to

occur (48). Though it cannot be expected that every company

will take this kind of action, at the very least,

corporations, both national and multinational, have to

determine operational ethics that prevent them from causing

harm to others.

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