“How can I live a sincere life and avoid becoming a criminal?” Harvard Business School’s business management theory asks students these questions. This is a class by Professor Clayton Christensen, who is known for his innovation dilemma. It’s no wonder you want to ask that. While many of the graduates succeed as managers, many are arrested for fraudulent accounting and insider trading. The professor discusses with the students what to do when faced with an important ethical conflict (dilemma) in life. I won’t go into the contents, but it’s a book, so please read it (“Innovation of Life” (Sheesha, 2012)).
What I want to say here is the fact that even business school management theory now deals with ethics.
Business needs ethics
Of course, the Business School also has a subject called “Business Ethics” that focuses on ethics. This subject was first established in the United States around 1898, but since that time it has been criticized as a contradiction in terms such as “business ethics.” The vector is in the opposite direction because “business” pursues profit first, while “ethics” puts “waiting” on that pursuit and pursues non-profit value. I have been asked why business needs ethics.
However, it was the Enron incident in 2001 that changed this situation completely. Enron went bankrupt as fraudulent accounting came to light. Neither the audit corporation nor the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was supposed to “wait”, performed its function. In response to this, the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act enacted in 2002 provided an item called “Code of Ethics for Senior Treasury Officers”, and it is thought that officers themselves should be interested in the ethics of the organization. It became so. The law has had a significant impact on companies around the world, including Japanese companies listed on the US stock market. Now it’s becoming commonplace for businesses to need ethics. Professor Kristensen’s class at the beginning speaks for itself.
Does Ethics Make Your Business Successful?
Ethics can lead a business to success. Jim Collins et al.’S Visionary Company (Nikkei BP, 1995) shows that ethical companies, including Sony, are winning the competition in the long run. In addition, Koji Sakamoto’s “The Most Valuable Company in Japan” (Asa Publishing, 2008) introduces Ina Food Industry Co., Ltd., which continues to increase sales and profits, with “contributing to society through the well-being of employees” as the first priority. Has been done.
Was the choice of Foy stein wrong? In a 2015 interview with Boston Grove magazine, the 90-year-old said he was “happy with his life.” Ethics does not always lead to business success, but it may have the power to lead life to success.
We are already practicing business ethics
So, what more insights can we gain from the discipline of “business ethics”, given that business requires ethics?
This question is important. This is because we face ethical conflicts in our daily work and resolve them in our own way, if not like Foy stein. For example, when your boss orders you to go against your ethics, or when you meet an absurd customer demand. Whether you submit to it, resist it, ignore it, or talk to someone, we have given ourselves a solution. In this regard, we can all say that we are already practicing business ethics. What more knowledge can we expect from this scholarship?
Ethics = ethics + scholarship
To answer this, I would like to emphasize that business ethics is a field of ethics alongside bioethics and environmental ethics. Ethics has two characteristics. The first feature is that ethics is not just ethics, but ethics + scholarship (high school subjects are “ethics”, but university subjects are “ethics” for some reason. There is).
Ethics seeks to be a discipline in that it shares, evaluates, and thinks as logically as possible about our own solutions to ethical conflicts with many. If you don’t, you’ll be alone. Sharing the solutions, we have made may help others. In addition, by evaluating, you may find that there are other options for solutions that you think are “only this”, and that actions that are praised by others may be unexpectedly criticized. And by thinking as logically as possible, we can systematize our solutions and build a theory. In business, there is an aspect of our business and corporate activities that can only be seen through the lens of this theory.
For example, there is a theory called utilitarianism. According to this theory, the criterion for the correctness of an act is whether the act makes as many people as happy as possible. This standard is called “maximum number of maximum happiness”, and the method of counting the number of people and the method of measuring, tabulating, and comparing happiness are now being refined. Even in business ethics, these criteria can give a legitimate ethical evaluation to business content and business activities, rather than just praise or criticism. It provides, so to speak, “backing”, ensuring that it is useful to others and reducing the likelihood of being criticized.
Ethics is also a philosophy
The second characteristic is that it is a kind of philosophy (ethics is also called “moral philosophy”). Ethics seeks to be a philosophy in that it does not take our ethics in business and re-questions its rationale. Why do we need to re-question the basis of our ethics? This is because ethics can wield authority, such as “don’t do this” or “should do that”. In a situation where the authority of ethics is swayed, even asking the grounds is made “unethical”. To prevent this from happening, ethics as a philosophy has great significance in questioning the grounds and examining whether its authority is justified.
Significance of business ethics
Now is the time when business needs ethics. That is why it is meaningful to carry out business ethics as an academic discipline so that such ethics will not be self-reliant and will not give up authority.