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“Business ethics is rules, standards, codes, or principles
which provide guidelines for morally right behavior and
truthfulness in specific situations.” (Lewis)
“Business ethics is the study of business situation, activities,
and decisions where issues of right and wrong are
addressed.” (Crane and Matten)
“Business ethics refers to clear standards and norms that help
employees to distinguish right from wrong behaviour at
work.” ( The Ethics Resource Centre)
May 29, 20163
“Business ethics has to do with the extent to which a person’s
behaviour measures up to such standards as the law, organizational
policies, professional and trade association codes, popular
expectations regarding fairness and what is right, plus one’s own
internalized moral standards”. ( William Sauser)
“Business ethics is disciplined normative reflection on the nature,
meaning and context of business activity. As such it deals with
comprehensive questions about the justice of the economic context in
which business operates and about the nature, function, structure and
scope of business in that context, as well as with more specific issues
raised by the relationship of business to government, the consumer, its
employees, and society at large”. ( Hoffman and Moore)
May 29, 20164
“Business ethics is a study of moral standards and how these apply to
the systems and organizations through which modern societies
produce and distribute goods and services, and to the people who
work within these organizations. Business ethics, in other words, is
a form of applied ethics. It includes not only the analysis of moral
norms and moral values, but also attempts to apply the conclusions
of this analysis to that assortment of institutions, technologies,
transactions, activities, and pursuits that we call business.” (Manuel
May 29, 20165
• Framework- Set of rules, standards, codes, principles,
philosophy etc. to be followed for ethical decision making in
• Internal development of ethical traits-Development of
virtues, values, morality and inner conscience.
• Situation- Business situations demanding ethical
• Behaviour- Ethical behaviour from the legal, stakeholder
and humanity point of view.
May 29, 20166
Nature of Business Ethics
May 29, 20167
• Complex because of no common consensus
• Dynamic because of dynamic nature of business decision
• Interdependent because ethical decision making is dependent
on many factors and one’s decision affect others.
• Subjective because the frameworks referred for ethical
decision making are usually normative and are varied in nature.
These frameworks differ from people to people and organization
May 29, 20168
There may be varied arguments regarding
business ethics but one commonly accepted
fact is that intensity of ethics in business
will always be limited to the extent
of ethical behaviour shown by those
who are involved in business.
So the human factor is the key.
May 29, 20169
Significant Developments in Business
Credited to Business Ethics
• Profit is no more considered as the sole objective of business.
• Instead of maximization of shareholders wealth now the
focus of business organizations is on stakeholder approach.
• Many large business organizations are involved in socially
• Environmental issues are now openly discussed by business
• Framework of Corporate Governance has improved
May 29, 201610
Many business organizations have already framed their ethical
code of conduct and are strictly following it.
Business ethics is no more considered as an undesirable
transgression into the functioning of business organizations.
Instead organizations themselves are taking it seriously and now
consider it as good for business.
May 29, 201611
Perceptions Regarding Business Ethics
Rules, Standards or Codes Governing an
Individual or Organization
Rules, Standards or Codes Governing an
Individual or Organization
Morality, Virtues, ValuesMorality, Virtues, Values
Clarity of Right and WrongClarity of Right and Wrong
Honesty, IntegrityHonesty, Integrity
Character, ConscienceCharacter, Conscience
Situational and TemporalSituational and Temporal
Being True to OneselfBeing True to Oneself
Stakeholder ApproachStakeholder Approach
May 29, 201612
Arguments ‘against’ the Business
• Milton Friedman, a Nobel laureate had suggested that there is no need for business people
to bring ethical factors into their managerial decision making. He believed that when they
have occupied the role of business then automatically they are supposed to throw away
their role of autonomous moral agent in favour of making efforts for fulfilling the purpose
of shareholders. According to Friedman there is one and only social responsibility of
business and that is to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its
profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which to say, engages in open and
free competition without deception or fraud.
May 29, 201614
John Ladd believes that by virtue of basic nature of business
organization the possibility of ethical evaluation of its actions is ruled
out. Ladd argues that there are specific goals of business which are
meant to be achieved and these goals are non-moral. So, business
organizations should be evaluated from the point of view of achieving
those specific goals successfully or not instead of from the point of
view of ethics or morality.
Another argument against the business ethics is that the organizations
and corporations can’t be held morally responsible for anything,
simply because they don’t act, it’s the individuals who act.
According to free economy promoters, the market regulate itself
without any need for externally induced controls. So let the rules of
the economy and free markets work instead of the rules of ethics.
May 29, 201615
Arguments ‘for’ the Business
• Those who argue for the business ethics are of the view that the
profit is not the only motive of business; business organizations
deserves ethical reasoning; business does not enjoy any special
status and morality is as much applicable to it as to any one else;
and rules of ethics and morality are as much intrinsic to business
as the rules of economy and free markets. The acts of bribery,
corruption, and deception in business are strongly criticized in
• As the organizations are run by individuals they are as much
liable for ethical judgements as any individual. They can’t get
away by stating their impersonal nature.
May 29, 201616
• The special status for business free from ethical
evaluation is also opposed by many economists,
philosophers, academicians, and other ethicists. They
argue that ethics and business can’t be separated and
there is no ethical relativism between business and
• Peter Drucker argues that ethical code remains same
for everybody whoever he may be. It is same for rich,
poor, kings, business leaders, managers, mighty or
May 29, 201617
• For business to operate successfully and in accepted manner
these social interactions should provide mutual benefits and
for that ethics is one key element that make these
interactions mutually fruitful.
• Against the argument of allowing rules of economy and free
markets to operate without ethical considerations, ethicists argue
that businesses operate in a society and their actions have both
direct and indirect impact on the society and so many cases of
fraud, corruption, and bribery have come up in recent times
doing excessive harm to the society that relevance of ethics to
business is more than ever. Rules of free markets in no way can
justify fraud, corruption, bribery, deception, and other immoral
May 29, 201618
Three Role of Business
The first role of business ethics is to do three level
May 29, 201619
The second role is to develop theoretical foundations of universal
nature for business ethics on the basis of three level investigation or
study such as:
Normative StatementsNormative Statements
May 29, 201620
Morality and Ethics
Morality is concerned with understanding of what is right
and wrong behaviour. In the study of business ethics many
people treat the concept of ethics and morality as same.
There is no harm in it. However treating them as different
but strongly inter-related is a better approach in enriching
the field of business ethics. Morality could be considered as
one of the subject matter of study in business ethics.
May 29, 201624
Difference between Morality and Ethics
1. Ethics is the study of framework such as standards, Morality is right action, conduct or behaviour
principles, rules or codes and traits for ensuring
right action, behaviour or conduct.
2. Ethics is the philosophical study of morality Morality is the subject matter of ethics
3. Ethics encompasses morality Morality is the sub-field of ethics
4. Ethics attempts to bring rationalization to morality Morality gets rationalization through ethics
5. Ethics tries to systemize morality Morality becomes systematic through ethics
6. Ethics legitimizes morality Morality gets legitimized through ethics
7. Ethics is covert as well as overt Morality is overt
May 29, 201625
Kohlberg Model of Moral Development
May 29, 201627
Virtues and Ethics
The word virtue is derived from the Greek word ‘arete’
which is translated as excellence.
Virtues are the good moral habits that are acquired over a
period of time by repeatedly choosing the good.
Virtues play an important role in the decision making process
of individuals and that is why virtues are important from the
ethics point of view.
The foundation of morality lies in the development of
Good character traits or moral habits, when learned and
practiced repeatedly, gets cultured or internalized in the
people and takes the form of virtues.
May 29, 201628
Right conduct, action or behaviour of an individual which we
call morality can be temporal but through the development
of virtues righteousness becomes a habit.
Virtues imply that there is a set of qualities which will make
people fulfill their functions as people, properly and well.
Without virtue, people are unable to do justice with their
For Aristotle, the difference between doing something and
doing it well or excellently lies in virtues. In other words,
we do not display virtue when we do something that happens
to be good, but we must act with a deliberate desire to
perform our function as human beings properly.
May 29, 201629
Spirituality and Business Ethics
Spirituality is integral and holistic, incorporating within itself
the material, moral and cultural values.
There is a misconception regarding spirituality that spiritual
value is opposed to the material one.
The term ‘spiritual’ as also the Sanskrit substitute “Atmika” or
“Adhyatmik” literally meaning any thing that pertains to the
spirit (the Self or soul or atman).
There are virtues and values associated with spirit (Atman) as
its very nature, provided the Atman (spirit) is in natural state,
freed from impurities.
May 29, 201632
Impurity here means something that is mental – it is ego and
selfishness and raga (infatuation or favoritism) and Dvesa
(abhorrence or enmity). So, purity would really mean
freedom from these mental impurities, and not rejection of
For the practice of value it is not necessary to have
metaphysical (ontological) presupposition about the spirit
(the Self) – neither for the practice of morality, nor for the
spirituality. One can practice morality, for example, even
without believing in the higher Self (the higher spirit) or
One can practice the spiritual values just with phenomenal
and limited self, present in the body, even without accepting
any extraordinary metaphysical status of the existing self.
May 29, 201633
The Budhist and the Jaina way of life is highly spiritual and yet
there is no belief in God there.
In the Brahmana (Vedic) tradition too, half of the
philosophical schools (Vaisesika, Samkhya and Mimamsa) do not
believe in God and yet they present a moral and spiritual way
of life to follow, although the definition of morality and
spirituality differs from school to school.
However, faith in God or the Higher Self strengthens the
moral and spiritual attitude, and facilitates the ethico-
spiritual living. So, faith in the metaphysical spiritual reality
is also a value – a supplementary value.
May 29, 201634
Two Aspects of Spirituality
While defining spirituality, we have to understand that there
are two aspects of spirituality – a negative aspect and a
positive aspect, and the two aspects are complementary to
each other. Negatively, spirituality means melting or effacing
the ego, and positively it means realizing one’s unity with
others (or in other words, having universal love).
Ego is the principle of differentiation of oneself from others;
ego rests on the feeling of otherness (what in the spiritual
philosophy is technically called ‘dvaitabhava’ or ‘bheda-
Ego takes place when I do not consider the so-called others
as ‘me’ or ‘my own’ and cut myself off from them and confine
myself to my own individuality.
May 29, 201635
In the ego-state we wish only the good of ourselves and not
the good of others, we impose ourselves on others and even
exploit others for our own end. Selfishness and ego are like
the two sides of one and the same coin.
Ego is the foundation and the root cause of all evil, of all
If spirituality negatively means effacement of the ego, and if
the ego means separating oneself from the others and
confining oneself to one's own individuality and taking into
consideration only oneself and the others, then it becomes
easy to understand the positive meaning of spirituality as
what in the spiritual philosophy is technically called 'Advaita-
bhava' or 'Abheda-bhava' which means feeling of one's unity
May 29, 201636
Spirituality is the state of consciousness in which the feeling
of otherness is gone and the feeling of affinity and unity with
the so-called others is established.
The feeling of unity can be explained with the help of
examples. One such example is that of the loving mother.
The mother feels that the children are her own or herself;
the happiness and suffering of the children are the happiness
and suffering of the mother. The bodies of the children are
separated from the mother, and in that sense the children are
'others' to her, but in her consciousness or in her feeling they
are not others. What she does good for the children, she
thinks she is doing for her own self, as she feels that the
children are herself or her own. This is what is called love.
Thus love is the meaning of spirituality; love is 'the' spiritual
May 29, 201637
Love is considered as 'the' spiritual value. But love should be
distinguished from such mental states and situations that are
falsely taken to be love. For example, infatuation,
possessiveness, selfish attachment, etc are not love. Love
may be understood as the opposite of selfishness.
In love which is the spiritual value, there is natural synthesis
of what is called 'Sreya' (the good) and 'Preya' (the
pleasant). Love is actually the two in one – the good and the
pleasant both at once.
In love the good of oneself and the good of others become
one, as the 'others' too become one's own. Morality becomes
natural in love, as one would not exploit the beloved person
and, on the contrary, would do good to him/her.
May 29, 201638
Thus the spiritual value (love) satisfies the demands of
Dharma (morality) and Sukha (pleasure or happiness) both at
once. It gives immense pleasure and satisfaction to oneself on
the one hand, and on the other hand one becomes
spontaneously inclined to do good to the so called others.
Egolessness and love or the feeling of unity-are the two
negative and positive meanings of spirituality. The two
meanings are complementary to each other, or it would be
more true to say that the two denote one and same state of
consciousness. One cannot be loving without being egoless,
because the very meaning of ego is the separation of oneself
from others and more the ego is tight, the less loving we are.
There is inverse relationship between love and ego.
May 29, 201639
That is why Kabir, the great mystic poet, has said; "If you
want to drink the nectar of love and also want to keep up
your ego, this is impossible like putting two swords in one
and same sheath“.
Karuna (compassion), Bhakti or Bhaktiyoga (surrender to God
or surrender to Truth), Jnana or Jnanayoga (Advaita-bhava or
realization of one's unity with all beings), Karmayoga (doing
all work with the sense of being the instrument of God or
with the sense of selfless duty) – all these are co-relates or
corollaries of the central spiritual value which negatively
means egolessness and positively means love or unity of
oneself with all.
May 29, 201640
Difference Between Spirituality and Morality
May 29, 201641
In the general Western tradition, morality is accepted as the
highest value. (However, there are strong exceptions also, for
whom spirituality is the highest value.). But in the Indian
tradition, spirituality is taken to be the highest or the ultimate
value. This is not because the moral value is underrated - not at
all; the moral value (Dharma) is rated very high and is taken to be
absolutely necessary for life–both individual and social. But
spirituality is placed even above morality (or above mere
morality) because spirituality (Adhyatma) naturally incorporates
morality (Dharma) within itself; it is the state of natural morality.
Moreover, the morality present in spirituality is free from its
possible minus points, namely (i) the ego, (ii) the effort or
exertion of the will, and (iii) the dichotomy of Sreya and Preya.
Mere morality, although valuable in itself, is a dry value, in order
to be more effective and more satisfying, it has to be saturated
May 29, 201644
Understanding Moral and Spiritual Impurity
There are two types of impurity–the moral impurity and the spiritual impurity.
Unscrupulous life of deceit, dishonesty, corruption including various kinds of
crime, etc. – all these come under the category of moral impurity.
There may be persons who are free from these impurities (the moral ones) and
yet they may be suffering from another kind of impurity which is equally bad,
sometimes even worse. This is what is called 'Ahamkara' (ego).
Ego is the spiritual impurity.
The moral impurity harms and hurts others; ego too hurts, sometimes even
more deeply. Therefore, it is necessary to free oneself not only from the moral
impurities but also from ego.
One cannot be called pure-hearted unless one is free from both these
impurities. The life of values cannot become perfect with moral perfection
alone; the spiritual value of egolessness (resulting in love) must also be
incorporated; then alone the life of values world become complete.
May 29, 201645
Spiritual Lessons for Business Leaders
Acquisition of material wealth (Artha) and satisfaction of
desires (Kama) become unhealthy only when they are done
selfishly and egoistically.
Remove the feeling of possessiveness (mamatva) towards the
wealth and become unattached (Anasakta) with the wealth.
Then enjoy the wealth in an unattached manner, and in the
unattached state of consciousness. Then you will find that
you enjoy the wealth far better.
The psychology of relishing or enjoying is that if we are
strongly attached, the degree of relishment or enjoyment is
very low; whereas if we are unattached, the enjoyment is
May 29, 201646
It can be safely proposed that only an unattached person can
really enjoy the world; the attached (Asakta) person
accumulates and possesses but does not enjoy.
The purity of money means that it is spent not only for your
good but for the good of all (of course, including yourself).
The society has share in your earning because you are
indebted to the society, and you can clear your debt to the
society by parting with the extra money and giving the
society their share.
One who appropriates all money for oneself without giving
others their due share, is virtually a thief (“… yo bhunkte stena
eva sah …”) or "... such a person is a thief and deserves
punishment …" (“ … sasteno dandamarhati”) or, "…those
who cook only for themselves, eat sin…" (bhunjate te
tvaghnan papa ye pacantyatma karmat”).
May 29, 201647
Spiritual Lesson for Corporate Social
• Serve the people not in charity but in love
• Charity is moral act but service with love is
• The act of charity may generate ego, but the
service done out of love reduces or melts
May 29, 201648
Make Material Life Spiritual
By cultivating proper attitude towards Nature and the world,
the material life itself can be made spiritual and the so-called
dichotomy between the material and the spiritual be
Really there is no dichotomy between the two, we have
created the dichotomy by vitiating the world of matter. It is
we who have made the material life impure by our ego and
If the material life is freed from the ego and selfishness, it
itself would become spiritual; in fact, originally it 'is'
spiritual, the impurity is introduced from our side.
May 29, 201649
" Love gives and forgives, selfishness gets
May 29, 201650