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Business Ethics Are Set to Set to Stage a Comeback - Article Review

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The literature being studied is an article written by Hellen O' Sullivan, the Director of Scientific Methods Australia. The article entitled "Business ethics are set to set to stage a comeback" was published on the 75th page of The Australian Financial Review on the 6th February 1990.

Literature Review

Basically, the article discussed several important issues about business ethics. One of the most prominent was the remark she made about business ethics making a comeback. The conclusion was made upon the fact that business ethics are becoming more and more popular among business practitioners as the era of 'Me-generation', and its obsession with greed and profit at any cost draws to a close.

Besides that, another notable issue addressed was the positive correlation between business ethics and corporate performance. She suggested that recent corporate failures resulted from a singularly motivated strategy of making profits. She also noted that the 1990's avalanche of corporate collapse could be all attributed directly or indirectly to the decline in business ethics.

The third issue raised was the role of managers or business leaders to actually uphold business ethics. She suggested that the formulation of a sound ethical code of practice should be a part of every company's strategy and that it is the first responsibility of every business leadership.


I have made a research regarding the issues identified in the literature mainly through a computer-assisted research service - LEXIS-NEXIS Academic Universe at From this particular research I have gathered altogether sixteen (16) articles. These articles are published in various journals, namely The Economist, Harvard Business Review, Time, Newsweek, Information Week, Accounting Age, PR Week, Business Mexico, The National Journal, Fleet Owner as well as Malaysian Business. All these articles are written by reputable authors, who are either academician or practitioners.

Besides that, I also did some library research. From here, I have chosen two (2) books on Strategic Management, which have sections and topics relevant to the issues addressed in the main literature.

Findings & Analysis

Issue 1

In 1990, O' Sullivan said that business and personal ethics are ripe for a comeback as the era of the Me- generation and its obsession with greed and profit at any cost draws to a close. The presumption she made a decade ago has seemed to come through in the new millennium, as companies are now increasingly wonder not only what constitute ethical corporate behaviour, but also how to get their employees to observe it both locally and globally. Management schools nowadays teaches courses on the subject to their students and you can even study at any number of good schools for a graduate degree in Business Ethics as revealed in The Economist (22nd February 2000) and the article written by Clive Crook in The National Journal (24 April 1999).

The change of the perception towards business ethics is so apparent today. The business community in the 1980's perceived business ethics as a contradiction in terms. Those who practise them were often

seen as naпve and worst, unambitious. This is totally vice versa to the current thinking. For instance, Professor Richard DeGeorge of the University of Kansas shatters the myth of business ethics being a contradiction in terms by using simple logical analogy. He stated that if business is viewed a amoral i.e. it is not expected to behave according to the moral rules and it is not appropriate to do whatever necessary to increase profit, then there would be no surprise when a business acted immorally. The uncovering of bribes and corruption would not be news.

The presence of business ethics is so apparent today. According to the article entitled "Doing Well by Doing Good" published in the Economist, in the United States there are various ethics industries including consultancies, conferences, journals as well as corporate conscience awards. Accounting firms like PriceWaterhouse Coopers offers to audit the ethical performance of companies. The Ethics Officer Association USA with 650 members today began with only a dozen members in 1990. This proves that business ethics and its awareness is really picking up.

Another interesting revelation is about trucking firms in the US. In the article "The Value of Values" published in Fleet Owner November 1999, David Cullen admitted that even companies like the trucking companies, which have managed to get so far without social conscience are now faced with the increasingly awareness and demands as regards to ethical practice. He said that in the new millennium, corporations would be operating under many watchful and demanding eyes. As regards to the trucking industry per se they are obliged to act ethically towards 6 sets of stakeholders: owners / shareholders / investors; employees / contractors; customers; suppliers / vendors; local community and society in general. It is interesting to know that all these are being stressed and explained in specially conducted programs for people in various fleet industry.

A survey results to actually illustrate the current level awareness of companies in serving their community was demonstrated in an article written by Jennifer Zaino - "Companies Give Back to their Communities" in the Information Week. In the research survey done recently of 250 IT and business managers regarding business ethics, only 11% say their companies do not have programs to support employee involvement in charitable causes.

The article entitled "Doing Well by Doing Good" published in The Economist, raised the issue of bribery and corruption. It stated that American Companies have been bounded since 1977 under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It also reveals that now, all Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries have agreed to a convention to end bribery. However, many companies turn a blind eye when intermediaries make such payments. Only some companies like Motorola for example have accounting systems to spot kickbacks by noting differences



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