For Business Ethics courses. This collection of quality cases and essays on business ethics addresses some of the most pertinent ethical issues in today's business environment. It goes well beyond matters of fraud and public relations to consider standards of professionalism, corporate decision-making structure, the interface between ethical theory and economic practice, etc.
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Although the particular cases and dilemmas regarding business ethics alter and change with time, the underlying principles and theoretical issues rarely do. Business ethics is about doing "the right thing for the right reason" in our private and public lives, especially in our work and on the job. Business ethics asks: What ought we do in relation to others? Beyond rules and requirements, what do I owe the people I work with (fellow employees), work for (managers-owners), and the people I come to work to serve (customers)?
Given the basic fact of change, textbooks, like the times, also need to change. The fifth edition of Case Studies in Business Ethics offers a series of new and updated cases and essays on some of the most pertinent ethical issues in today's business environment. This edition has replaced 80 percent of the cases and essays and offers two entirely new sections entitled "Privacy, Ethics, and Technology" and "Leadership."New Cases/Essays:
Besides a number of cases that are drawn from current news headlines, this edition continues to offer a selection of classical cases and essays that exemplify a number of perennial topics and questions in the field:
If doing business were simple and ethical decisionmaking always obvious, there would be no need for this book or any textbook on the topic of business ethics. But clearly such is not the case. Like most things in life, business is complex and the pursuit of ethics is often convoluted. Sadly, because it is hard to combine these two enterprises, we too often simply dismiss business ethics, accuse it of being an oxymoron, or proclaim that it is impossible to achieve because of the technical complexity and intellectual nuances involved.
The reality is that, whether in our professional or private lives, doing the right thing for the right reason is never easy. But just because it is difficult does not mean that we need not bother to try, or that it cannot be done. We are, to paraphrase jean-Paul Sartre, moral mammals required by our status and situation to decide, make choices, seek meaning. None of us are absolved, says Sartre; we all must choose our way through life. We all must decide on what is right, what is wrong, what is acceptable and unacceptable conduct in regard to ourselves and others.
Some critics, of course, will say that, while this all may be true, in business ethics the situation is much more complex, the choices are much more difficult, and the dilemmas are much more confusing because of what is at stake: success, status, stuff, wealth, position, property. These critics claim that there is a long history (e.g., Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince) of maintaining separate standards for personal and business (and/or political) conduct. According to Otto von Bismarck, it is the way of the world. Success in the public realm requires a certain amount of ethical schizophrenia, what he would call real politik.
As a discipline, business ethics wants to deny this dichotomy. Business is not disconnected from the people it serves. Business is part of life. Life, labor, and business are all of a piece. They should not be separate "games" played by separate "rules." Like all other activities in life, business is required to ask, "What ought to be done in regard to others?" and "What rights and obligations do we have and share with others?"
What business ethics is advocating is that people apply in the workplace those commonsensical rules and standards learned at home, from the lectern, and from the pulpit. The moral issues facing a person are age-old, and they are essentially the same issues facing a business—only written large. According to R. Edward Freeman, of the Darden School of Business, ethics is "how we treat each other, every day, person to person. If you want to know about a company's ethics, look at how it treats people—customers, suppliers, and employees. Business is about people. And business ethics is about how customers and employees are treated."
What is being asked of the business community is neither extraordinary nor excessive: a decent product at a fair price; honesty in advertisements; fair treatment of employees, customers, suppliers, and competitors; a strong sense of responsibility to the communities it inhabits and serves; and the production of 4 reasonable profit for the financial risk-taking of its stockholders and owners. In the words of General Robert Wood Johnson, founder of Johnson & Johnson:
The day has passed when business was a private matter—if it ever really was. In a business society, every act of business has social consequences and may arouse public interest. Every time business hires, builds, sells or buys, it is acting for the . . . people as well as for itself, and it must be prepared to accept full responsibility.
Case Studies in Business Ethics is an attempt to bring together in a single package an overview of ethical reasoning, an explanation of the case method, essays to read, ideas and issues to ponder, and cases to debate. It is my hope that these readings will be both interesting and informative to teachers and students alike.
The first edition of this text (1984) was the brainchild solely of Thomas Donaldson. Editions two (1990), three (1993), and four (1996) were the products of the efforts of both of us. For good or ill, the responsibility for this fifth edition fell entirely on my shoulders. Tom's pressing professional schedule and expanded family responsibilities prohibited him from coediting this project with me. Nevertheless, I want to publicly thank Tom for all of his efforts over the years on this project, for his accomplishments and contributions to the field of business ethics, and for his friendship and collegiality.
A few other thanks also need to be noted. I owe a great deal of gratitude to my longtime associate Mark D. Schneider for his diligence in preparing this manuscript. I also want to thank April White, my graduate assistant, for her day-today production efforts. And I want especially to thank Ross Miller and Wendy Yurash of Prentice Hall for making this book possible yet again.
Loyola University Chicago
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