Ethical Perspectives Overview

Subject: Business Ethics
Pages: 8
Words: 2317
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: PhD


Business ethics and social responsibilities are common concepts in the world today. Nonetheless, there are myriads of issues that arise especially in regards to whether ethics should be considered as one of the most important aspects of running a business. Therefore, these two concepts have been used interchangeably quite several times as part and parcel of merging diverse understanding of various operators in the business world. Additionally, moral responsibilities of any business venture in comparison to ethical perspectives that need to be considered are equally imperative when running business operations. The aforementioned concepts provide a platform for demonstrating positive self-consciousness and can be used in the management of organizations. Different people have various understandings of business ethics and social responsibilities. However, the major issue in virtually all arguments is that business leaders should exercise ethical business practices. This includes being ethically responsible for the needs of both consumers and individual organizations. This paper offers a succinct discussion on the concepts of business ethics and social responsibilities as argued by various authors.

Alahmad, A. (2010). To be ethical or not to be: An international code of ethics for leadership. Journal of Diversity Management, 5(1), 31-35.

The author attempts to correlate ethics and morality. He argues that any ethical perspective is largely concerned with the self-consciousness of being either right or wrong. Furthermore, ethics in a business organization is a concept that can be equated to either right or wrong. Hence, two views tend to address ethical perspectives. These are relativism and universalism. In terms of ethical relativism, it implies that both, the concepts of right and wrong, usually emanate from a particular situation or long-term cultural norms. On the other hand, the author is quite categorical that ethical universalism does not necessarily depend on a given premeditated situation. Individuals can choose what is right for them. There are several cases in business organizations where there is a lack of or complete absence of ethical leadership. Therefore, based on this, it is important to adhere to set international codes of ethical conduct. These international ethical codes should guide people on leadership styles. Ethical leadership dictates the behaviors, actions, and relationships among people. This is aimed at being fair to various components of life, as well as looking for acceptance from others. There are various efforts in encouraging ethical leadership fronted by international bodies such as the United Nations. There is even an ethics office under the umbrella of the UN to guide people on ethical leadership.

The international code of ethics is to guide leaders on setting the right examples in leadership. They are accredited to make difference in the lives of people. Truth and honesty count a lot when it comes to management and leadership. Others are like not being judgmental, humility, punctuality, respect, and upholding the dignity of the international codes of ethics. People are different when it comes to upholding international ethics. People have different perspectives on being right or wrong. This is related to the concepts of relativism and universalism regarding international ethics. International bodies, such as the United Nations, are part and parcel of enforcing leadership and international ethics. Ethics, as related to leadership, is all about providing the leads and direction. A leader should act as an example for others to follow. That is why it is important to be at the forefront of upholding international codes of ethics.

Wood, J. C. (2005). Peter F. Drucker: Critical evaluations in business and management: Volume 1. New York: Taylor & Francis Group.

According to Wood, social responsibility has been replaced with business ethics. The latter concept is mainly taught in philosophy departments, theological seminaries as well as in business schools. As documented by Wood (2005), Peter Drucker was against the concept of singling out business in an unfair way by business ethics. Business is given a special kind of ethical status which is different from other disciplines. Drucker contends that ethics did not come recently. There have been different approaches to the concepts of ethics. The big question is on what exactly business ethics is. Drucker contends that it is confusing where business ethics fit. Business ethics is tied to the western tradition of operations. It is also related to the Ten Commandments given by Moses to the Israelites in the Old Testament. The Israelites were forbidden to do some things while they were permitted to do others.

Through Drucker’s analysis, he is seen as somebody who is highly ethical. However, Drucker is seen in the analysis as somebody who is struggling to understand the concept of business ethics in real life. Drucker had various viewpoints regarding leadership and leaders. He found out that ethics is in a person’s behavior and these rules are applied to everyone. In addition, Drucker posited that bribery and extortions are some of the worst unethical behaviors. He insisted that the payment of bribes is stupid. Drucker had a strong view of social responsibility as part of ethics. Therefore, he does not value a strong departure from social responsibility to business ethics. Drucker advocated prudence ethics. Drucker also argued about profitable ethics and noted that it would be quite unethical if the business did not have profits that are equal to capital cost. According to Drucker, Confucian ethics are most durable where different general rules can be applied to different situations.

Friedman, M. (1970). The social responsibility of a business is to increase its profits. The New York Times Magazine, 1-5.

The main concept argued in this article is that profitability in business is often evident when social responsibility is thoroughly exercised. Furthermore, the need to make profits is usually the key reason why any business enterprise is initiated. Since social responsibility is capable of improving the profitability of a business organization, it should be given much-needed preference. In other terms, the concept of initiating social responsibilities rests in using people to help people. For example, a business organization is taken as a person, and therefore, it should have responsibilities in helping others. Since a company is managed by executives, these executives should take responsibility for initiating social responsibilities to other people. Common social responsibility is not increasing the price of products from the company. However, the modern means of social responsibilities is using stakeholders’ money in carrying out social responsibilities in helping others.

However, the basic doctrine and principle of social responsibility are one involving acceptance of socialism. This is connected to the political mechanism rather than having a market mechanism. These are appropriate in determining allocations of scarce company resources. Such kind of doctrine can be used in justifying wage restrains by the trade unions. The position taken by Milton Friedman is that it is people in the organization who should take social responsibility. Then, he suggests that executives are directly linked to social operations. Then, the sole responsibility of any organization is to generate enough profits for operations. Therefore, any kind of social responsibility should be tied with the making of profits. Sustainable business operations should be always the principle of a company. However, sustainable business operations may be reduced by corporate responsibilities. In this, therefore, the company should look at having social responsibilities that are well planned for.

Murphy, P. E. (2010). The Relevance of Responsibility to Ethical Business Decisions. Journal of Business Ethics, 90(1), 245-252.

Moral responsibility is closely related to business ethics as well as to corporate social responsibility. The argument is that moral responsibility controls the behaviors and conducts of individual businesses. This may also be explained in terms of moral responsibility towards one another. The term responsibility is the main thing argued in the article. This responsibility is contained in moral responsibilities, corporate social responsibilities, and business ethics. However, the article notes that the term responsibility has not been practiced highly by organizations in the world. The article analyzes the persons who should be responsible. Everybody has a role to play in responsibilities. The article also looks at the people who should receive the responsibilities and notes that anybody is responsible and can receive this responsibility. The article then reviews the real actions in corporate social responsibility and notes that it is contained in social, economic, and environmental groups.

Moral responsibility is good for a business setting. This business setting involves business ethics and social responsibility. The connection of moral responsibility, business ethics, and social responsibility defines a growing organization. There are various types of responsibilities that are related to moral and social responsibilities plus business ethics. These are legal responsibility, societal responsibility, managerial responsibilities, corporate social responsibility, and responsibilities of stakeholders. Corporate social and moral responsibilities are recognized as the overall types of responsibilities. The article also looks at various aspects that can affect business success. For example, religiosity is a key factor and so are the commonalities seen in various codes. One point evident in all this is that business ethics is integral. Murphy mentions that bribery and corruption are two outstanding evils in business ethics which are evils of corporate governance.

Comparisons of the articles

All the articles deliberate on the need to have business ethics. Alahmad (2010) asks the question of whether it is really necessary to be ethical. The outcome is that ethics are part and parcel of leadership. Peter Drucker is categorical that businesses cannot operate well without ethics amongst the corporate managers and stakeholders. Friedman (1970) equates social responsibilities to have good business behaviors and conduct. This kind of conduct should be directed to improving businesses to gain profits. On his part, Murphy (2010) outlines the relevance of having good business practices and their relations to other components such as moral responsibilities and corporate social responsibilities.

In all the articles, business ethics and responsibilities are correlated to business performance. Murphy (2010) notes that business responsibilities must influence business decision-making processes. Friedman (1970) posits that having good business ethics and social responsibilities is key to the profitability of a company. Alahmad (2010), on his part, argues that organizational leadership should focus on maintaining good business conduct. On his part, Peter Drucker ties all business operations to business ethics and responsibilities.

Concepts of business ethics and social responsibilities are both ‘acting’ right in the organization. In all articles, it can be seen that the arguments are for business executives to take control of their businesses and companies. This kind of acting is where there is good behavior and leading from the front. Business executives are called upon to be good examples in behaviors and initiating responsibilities. Whatever the understanding of business ethics and responsibilities, the bottom line is acting what is right for the organization and profitability.

The contrast in articles

The major difference in all the above-discussed articles is how business ethics and social responsibility I understood and interpreted. As Alahmad Ala asserts, the international codes of ethics are ideal in business operations. All companies should adhere to a set code of ethics and regulations instituted by international bodies such as the United Nations. Most importantly, these are applicable in the administration of organizational finances and the provision of confidentiality. Generally, leaders are at the heart of applying these business ethics and social responsibilities and becoming examples to others. On his part, Peter Drucker notes that social responsibility may not always be driven in the right direction. Some ethics go with social responsibilities and should be looked into keenly before being applied. Overall, violations of ethical practices such as bribes and extortions are unacceptable. Generally, the argument is that there are horrors that come with social responsibilities and business ethics.

The understanding brought out by Milton Friedman is that every social responsibility or adherence to business ethics should be tied to gaining profits. This may prove to be quite a fact bearing in mind that the real reason why any business enterprise is usually started is to make a profit. Whereas ethical considerations may sometimes prove to be less beneficial when focusing on – profits alone, it is vital to mention that to attract, as well as maintain long term customer loyalty, there is a dire need to meet their tastes and preferences alongside striking a balance between business sustainability and ethical concerns. As such, profit-making is recognized as the prime goal of any business. Therefore, social responsibility should be tailored toward bringing tangible gains to the organization. These tangible gains are the profits or successes in competitive markets. While corporate executives have their rights, they should always be examples to others. On his part, Patrick Murphy introduces a third concept of business ethics and social responsibility. This is a moral responsibility that posits that the behavior of a person in a particular environment should be right. Other articles have not introduced this concept but, as argued by Patrick Murphy, it is a concept that cannot be ignored. As related to business, this moral responsibility carries a crucial part in business decision-making. It is the overall value that is carried along with the concept of social responsibility and business ethics. Therefore, it is vital to argue out that the moral standing of a business enterprise is not only to make monetary profits but also to lay down some rules and procedures that may make customers remain loyal to products being offered at any given time. As already mentioned, different people have different understandings of business ethics and social responsibilities. Nonetheless, the major issue of concern in virtually all arguments is that leadership should be well enhanced if good business practices are put in place. That includes being responsible for other people and organizational environments. This paper has analyzed the concepts of business ethics and social responsibilities as argued by various authors. In addition, all the articles attempt to expound on moral responsibilities using both concepts of business ethics and social responsibilities. Management of organizations can indeed benefit a lot when social responsibility and ethics are well-integrated bearings in mind that it creates some positive self-consciousness.


Alahmad, A. (2010). To be ethical or not to be: An international code of ethics for leadership. Journal of Diversity Management, 5(1), 31-35.

Friedman, M. (1970). The social responsibility of business to increase its profits. The New York Times Magazine, 1-5.

Murphy, P. E. (2010). The Relevance of Responsibility to Ethical Business Decisions. Journal of Business Ethics, 90(1), 245-252.

Wood, J. C. (2005). Peter F. Drucker: Critical evaluations in business and management: Volume 1. New York: Taylor & Francis Group.