Business Ethics

It seems to me that any school that teaches business should have an ethics class. What I mean by this is a business class that focuses on Business Ethics. This would be a class that using compelling analysis focused on several different layers of organizational interaction.

How does an individual behave in the context of an organization? As a manager how should I treat my employees? Should I make decisions that hurt people? What decision mechanisms should a manager use to make not only an economically sound decision, but also a decision that supports human dignity?

What about at the organizational level? What does it mean for a company to be social responsible? Is it right for a company to dump waste into water ways? It is right for a company to downsize?

What about Capitalism as a worldview? Is a centralized economy more humane? Or can the efficiencies of a market system be used for the betterment of humanity, or the bigger question may be should profit be used for human causes or given to its owners?

I for one think that an academic program that teaches business should be required to discuss these things. Business students should have their desires for success challenged in a manner that prepares them for the dilemmas they will face in the world of commerce.

Maybe I am all wet, maybe Business Administration is just about the quantitative side of business, but I don’t think so.

And that is my very short thought for the day!

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8 thoughts on “Business Ethics

  1. Roger,
    My experience as a Fire Chief has taught me that what we need on both the public and private sides of the equation is more leaders and fewer managers. I believe we are seeing the results of this even in the current White House Administration. I don’t desire to get into political or ideological discussions. What I want to discuss is the wisdom of placing a person in the highest office in the land who has, I dare say, no previous leadership experience! Some might point out that he was a U.S. Senator; I challenge those responders to look up his Senate voting record: no leadership there. Community organizer, very little, if any there. The office of the President is not an on-the-job training position; this is the result of the influence of our pop-culture, and desiring to be hip and part of something significant, even if it’s the wrong thing to do!

    A definition I’ve heard and like is: managers do things right; leaders do the right thing (related to your question!) Simplistic, but I believe it to be true. Do we need managers, absolutely! Do we need leaders who can manage, again: yes that usually goes hand-in-hand. So, how do we (you as a professor) not only teach, but also instill a hunger in young men and women to become leaders and then impart that knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a leader? As CEO of two Fire Departments in two different states, I can state unabashedly that I have hired firefighters and promoted officers who have advanced degrees that really have little understanding of leadership, yet they are very smart people, capable of learning and acquiring leadership skills. I could ramble on and on, but my challenge to you and others in the field of advanced education is to find ways to help equip young people to be leaders, not just managers.

    Thanks for asking!

    • Ron thanks for the great comments. When will you be in this area? I’d love to have you come and talk to my class. I am in 100% agreement with you. I also quoted you in today’s blog.

      • Roger,
        I’d love to do that! Which days does the class you are referring to occur and what time? A national consulting firm contacted me about working for them; I agreed to work as a contract associate (I don’t really want to work full time, I’m too involved in songwriting to give all my time over to them!). They are having an all day retreat for project managers (it looks like I will be taking over the Executive Search project manager role) which is on the 18th of April. We could plan for it around that time, or I’d be happy to come over sooner! It would be fun to teach with you again.

      • Hi Ron, we are on spring break next week, so how about in two weeks. It can be either Tuesday or Thursday at 11:30. It is an Organizational Behavior class. You can talk about your career and leadership. I think they would love to hear you.It would be either March 13th or 15th. You could do either the 20th or 22nd. We could do lunch afterward.

      • Roger, the 15th would work best for me. We should touch base via phone prior to that date.

        Thanks, I look forward to it!

  2. I appreciate what you said today. We need to address the ethical issues related to making money. We are falling short and seeing some sad results because we live in a world that says making profit no matter what the cost is our ultimate goal!

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