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Since the early 1980's, there has been increasing concern and discussion regarding business values, ethics and morals. Contemporary organizations are realizing that ethics and profits are not conflicting concerns. In a survey, top executives of many organizations noted that good ethical behavior and values was a prime company asset (Business Roundtable, 1994). Many of the survey respondents indicated that a solid ethical foundation is one of the important components for long-term business success.

However, ethics would appear to be a troublesome issue for many business owners and managers as they express uncertainty as to how ethics are properly defined and fit into their business activities (Barry, 1979 & Nelson, 1994). Their uneasiness stems partially from an uncertainty about what ethics actually is to how it fits into the realm of business and business management. According to Taylor, ethics has been defined as an "...inquiry into the nature and grounds of morality where the term morality is taken to mean moral judgments, standards and rule of conduct." (Taylor, 1975, p. 1).

Sathe (1985) goes a step further by describing how business ethics is deeply concerned with both moral values and moral actions. According to Sathe, moral values are the basic ideals that are considered desirable or worthwhile for human interaction and moral actions are the overt expressions and applications of those underlying values. The integration of moral values and actions would then appear to logically lead to honest and fair treatment of customers in accordance with commonly accepted social standards.

Although a variety of explanations have been offered for the current status of ethics in both business and politics, few have addressed the impact organizational culture has on individual values and ethics. The dynamics of organizational culture would appear to provide new perspectives and, potentially, a better understanding of what prompts unethical behavior.

According to Archie Carroll, strong moral directives can be a key component of an

organizations culture and thereby define appropriate employee actions. However, not all organizations go to great lengths to identify inappropriate behavior or values. While many large business actually identify specific behaviors that are inappropriate or detrimental to achieving organizational objectives, few small businesses even consider them. As Carroll notes, many small business cultures are neither moral or immoral, but amoral.

Moral values then provide the basis for standards or norms of conduct and become guides for employees (Barry, 1986). The better that these values are assimilated and integrated into an organization's culture, the stronger, and more quickly, employees will respond when confronted with a difficult or ambivalent ethical dilemma. This then represents the "ideal" organizational situation. The key question then becomes how does a small business owner or manager influence or build a moral organization?

The first step in answering that question, according to Schein (1986), is to first recognize the existence of three separate, but interrelated, levels of organization culture. The first and most visible level of culture deals with the observable behavioral manifestations of the culture. Examples would be the customary words and phrases that are peculiar to a given organization, a common physical layout in executive or management offices, and the actions and/or decisions made by management. Schein goes on to state that people usually tend to identify the visible cultural traits for they provide a basic familiarity for assimilation and/or operation.

The second level of culture involves the overt and espoused organizational values. These values, often representing the views and opinions of management, identify what "ought" to be. This values are stated or printed publicly and are often debated and/or tested through business operations. A fairly typical example would be where a small manufacturing business experiences a drop in orders and the owner finds it necessary to reduce costs. However, the owner views her/his employees as family and treats them as such. So while work hours are reduced, no employees are eliminated, no layoffs occur and no jobs are lost. In this example, the owner has taken an overt action based on a specific and recognized value (Milton-Smith, 1995). Over time, these values will become commonly accepted, shared, internalized, and used by organizational members. Thus, they become habitual, unconscious,

automatic, non-confrontable, and non-debatable. These shared and fully accepted values then represent the third level of culture and, accordingly, most implicitly and forcefully guide employee perceptions, feelings, and actions (Schein, 1986). The key here, according to Finegan (1994), is the organization's members must "see" the owner or manager apply those values in every day decisions and actions. The application of those values in the decisions provides a demonstration the owner's commitment to ethical behavior and continued demonstration reinforces those values and leads to a general acceptance of the ethical values among organization members.

VALUES Values are individual in nature. Values are comprised of personal concepts of responsibility, entitlement and respect. Values are shaped by personal experience, may change over the span of a lifetime and may be influenced by lessons learned. Values may vary according to an individuals cultural, ethnic and/or faithbased background. Never change your core values. In spite of all the change around you, decide upon what you will never change: your core values. Take your time to decide what they are but once you do, do not compromise on them for any reason. Integrity is one such value.


Morals are guiding principles that every citizen should hold. Morals are foundational concepts defined on both an individual and societal level. At the most basic level, morals are the knowledge of the difference between right and wrong.


Simply put, all individuals are morally autonomous beings with the power and right to choose their values, but it does not follow that all choices and all value systems have an equal claim to be called ethical. Actions and beliefs inconsistent with the Six Pillars of Character trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship - are simply not ethical.


Concerns the goodness of voluntary human conduct that affects the self or other living things Morality (Latin mores) usually refers to any aspect of human action Ethics (Greek ethos) commonly refers only to professional behavior Ethics consist of the application of fundamental moral principles and reflect our dedication to fair treatment of each other, and of society as a whole. An individuals own values can result in acceptance or rejection of societys ethical standards because even thoughtfully developed ethical rules can conflict with individual values


There are two aspects to ethics: The first involves the ability to discern right from wrong, good from evil and propriety from impropriety. The second involves the commitment to do what is right, good and proper. Ethics entails action.


Ethics are the rules that help us tell the difference between right and wrong and encourage us to do the right thing. They can help people decide on the best course of action in situations where they arent sure what to do.

What Is Ethical Behaviour? Ethical behaviour is behaviour that conforms to ethics individual beliefs and social standards about what is right and good. Ethics are important for getting along with others, living with yourself, and having a good character. Ethical behaviour is based on values such as trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring, justice, and good citizenship, and on adherence to moral rules. Our values tell us what we think is important and this, in turn, helps us make decisions about right and wrong. For example, a person who values trustworthiness is unlikely to betray a friend. Morals are the rules we use to decide whats good and whats bad. For example, one moral rule might be that stealing is bad because it harms the person you steal from.

As a society, we tend to judge people more on their morals than their values. In fact, some of the most difficult decisions to make are the ones in which our personal values conflict with our moral rules. When we make decisions that run counter to our values and morals, and do things that our individual beliefs and social standards define as being bad or wrong, we are demonstrating unethical behaviour. Lets examine the first situation described earlieradding a few extra hours to your friends time sheet. In this situation, there are two choiceseither to add the extra hours or not to add them. If you add a few hours to a time sheet, your friend will get paid for work that he did not perform. Who wins and who loses with this choice? Would a decision like that bother you?

What happens if your friend asks you to do the same thing again in the future? On the other hand, if you dont add the hours to the time sheet, your friend may b e angry with you. Is that important to you? What are the possible consequences?

Your values and morals both tell you that dishonesty is wrong. Consider the amount of harm that could result from your decision. If you add the hours, the company will be harmed because it has to pay money without receiving any benefit in return. There will also be harm to you or your friend if someone finds out what you did. You could lose your jobs! Is it worth the risk? Ethical behaviour is all about doing the right thing.

What Role Should Ethics Play in Business? Ethics are based on both individual beliefs and standards in society. They vary from person to person, situation to situation, and culture to culture. Societys ethics are usually minimum standards for decency and respect of others. Individual ethics are personal beliefs about what is good and bad. Business ethics are tied to both societys ethics and the ethics of the individuals who work for, and buy products from, the company. For example, suppose you work for a company that makes cyanide gas. You know this gas can be harmful to people. Is it unethical that you make this gas? After all, you arent using it to poison people. Should you do it because it will help the company make a profit? Should you be concerned that workers might be exposed to toxic effects from working with the gas? In this situation, you must decide whether this work is unethical and whether you are willing to expose yourself to trouble with your boss by opposing it. How do you apply your personal beliefs in a business environment? Shouldnt you just do exactly what you are told to do? After all, the employer is paying you. Shouldnt the employer get to decide what you do? Would guidelines be helpful for making these decisions?

A Code of Ethics Businesses face ethical questions every day concerning the products or services they sell and the way they deal with people inside and outside the company. Many companies choose to operate according to a code of ethicsa document that explains specifically how employees should respond in different situations.

A code of ethics is especially useful when problems arise. For example, in the Chicago area in 1982, someone contaminated several bottles of Tylenol with poison, and seven people died as a result. This was the first case of product tampering of its kind. Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of Tylenol, followed its code of ethics and immediately pulled every package of the product off the shelves throughout North America, even though this was very expensive for the company. Johnson & Johnson also changed its packaging so it would be much more difficult for someone to contaminate the product in the future. The recall and repackaging effort cost the corporation about US$100 million, but it also showed customers that the company cared about their safety.

A code of ethics helps different people approach problems in the same way. Many companies have gone beyond simply writing a code and have established educational programs to help employees learn to behave more ethically. Program topics range from making personal calls during business hours to handling employee layoffs.

The problem with creating and applying a code of ethics is that drawing a line between right and wrong isnt always easy. Is it wrong for a businessperson to give a client a gift because that client has been a valued customer over the past year? Or is this bribery? Is it wrong for a politician to make a phone call to a bank manager to help a friend obtain a business loan? Is this using political influence for personal purposes? Instead of referring to a written guideline, you can ask yourself, If I take this action, will anyone suffer as a result? For example, if a salesperson knowingly sells an item that does not have a return guarantee without informing the customer, the customer (and the business) could suffer. You dont need a code of ethics to decide if it is wrong. In Canada, the law details acceptable business behaviour, but companies can still behave unethically without actually breaking the law. Like the law, no code of ethics can provide guidance for every possible situation. Although codes of ethics sometimes help people make decisions, they are not conclusive guides to distinguishing between right and wrong, and they are not necessary for every company. As a result, some would say that people should rely on their own judgment


How Can Businesses Resolve Ethical Dilemmas?

A dilemma is a situation where there is a difficult choice between two or more options. Dilemmas have good points and bad points on both sides. But not all dilemmas are right-versuswrong scenarios. For example, a business decision about where to locate is a decision and may even be a dilemma if there are a lot of issues to consider. But it is not an ethical dilemma because it is not a right-versus-wrong decision.

An ethical dilemma is a moral problem with potential right or wrong answers. It occurs in business when a business has a decision to make that weighs values and morals against profitability and competitiveness. Suppose you are the manager of a business that has no really good place to dispose of its toxic waste, so the company has been simply dumping it. If you stop dumping it, you will hold up production until you find a proper place to dispose of it. But what if that turns out to be very expensive? Should you inform the business owners that the company is violating an environmental code? Or should you just ignore the problem?

Some ethical dilemmas facing society and business include downsizing of staff, pollution control, disposal of toxic waste, depletion and allocation of scarce resources, cost containment, changes in law and technology, employee rights, discrimination against women and minorities, and product safety.

Resolving ethical dilemmas requires honesty, the ability to work co-operatively, respect for others, pride in ones work, willingness to learn, dependability, responsibility for ones actions, integrity, and loyalty. It may help to respond to the following questions when seeking a resolution: 1. Who will be helped by what you do? 2. Who will be hurt? 3. What are the benefits and problems of such a decision? 4. Will the decision survive the test of time?


"Values motivate, morals and ethics constrain." In other words values describe what is important in a person's life, while ethics and morals prescribe what is or is not considered appropriate behaviour in living one's life. Principles inform our choice of values, morals and ethics.

"Generally speaking, value refers to the relative worth of a quality or object. Value is what makes something desirable or undesirable" (Shockley-Zalabak 1999, p. 425). Through applying our personal values (usually unconsciously) as benchmarks, we continually make subjective judgments about a whole manner of things:

We are more likely to make choices that support our value systems than choices that will not. Let us say that financial security is a strong value for an individual. When faced with a choice of jobs, chances are the individual will carefully examine each organisation for potential financial and job security. The job applicant who values financial security may well take a lower salary offer with a well established company over a higher-paying offer from a new, high risk venture. Another job seeker with different values, possibly adventure and excitement, might choose the newer company simply for the potential risk and uncertain future.

Values, therefore, become part of complex attitude sets that influence our behaviour and the behaviour of all those with whom we interact. What we value guides not only our personal choices but also our perceptions of the worth of others. We are more likely, for example, to evaluate highly someone who holds the same hard-work value we do than someone who finds work distasteful, with personal gratification a more important value. We may also call the person lazy and worthless, a negative value label. (Shockley-Zalabak 1999, pp. 425-426)

What then of ethics? Ethics are the standards by which behaviours are evaluated for their morality - their rightness or wrongness. Imagine a person who has a strong value of achievement and success. Knowing only that this value is important to them gives us a general expectation of their behaviour, i.e. we would expect them to be goal oriented, gaining the skills necessary to get what they want, etc. However, we cannot know whether they will cheat to get what they want or "do an honest day's work each day". The latter dimension is a matter of ethics and morality. Take another example; a person has a high priority value or research/knowledge/insight. They have a career in medical research. In fact, knowing their value priority we would expect them to have a career in some form of research, however, we do not know from their value priority how they are likely to undergo their research. Will the person conduct experiments on animals, or would they abhor such approaches? Again, the latter is a mater of ethical stance and molality. Johannesen (cited Shockley-Zalabak 1999, p. 437) gives further examples, which help distinguish between values and ethics:

Concepts such as material success, individualism, efficiency, thrift, freedom, courage, hard work, prudence, competition, patriotism, compromise, and punctuality all are value standards that have varying degrees of potency in contemporary American culture. But we probably would not view them primarily as ethical standards of right and wrong. Ethical judgments focus more precisely on degrees of rightness and wrongness in human behaviour. In condemning someone for being inefficient, conformist, extravagant, lazy, or late, we probably would not also claim they are unethical. However, standards such as honesty, truthfulness, fairness, and humaneness usually are used in making ethical judgments of rightness and wrongness in human behaviour.

Clearly our values influence what we will determine as ethical; "however, values are our measures of importance, where as ethics represent our judgments about right and wrong" (Shockley-Zalabak 1999, p. 438). This close relationship between importance and right and wrong is a powerful influence on our behaviour and how we evaluate the behaviour of others.

Defining the Good and the Bad The following extract from the work of David Loye (2001, pp. 128-130) is used to

illustrate the use of a principle centric approach to the formulation of a morality to guide us into the 21st Century:

An increasingly critical problem that Darwin can help us with is defining what good is not . It is clear, for example, that it is not the use of "morality" by rightist and authoritarian religious and political interests as a club with which to try to beat - and even in the extreme kill - all who might in any way disagree with them.

Large buildings, even hundreds of people, are being blown up; people trying to check a potentially disastrous population explosion globally and save rape victims are being machine gunned; being poor is being relabelled evil; our right to bear assault rifles is being defended as a holy cause; whole villages are being slaughtered down to the last woman and child; and, via the booming persuasion of the media in all its forms, political character assignation and actual assignation is becoming an advanced art - all in the name of Jesus, Allah, or some other supposedly unquestioned source of "moral" law.

This is moralism, not morality. And how may the difference be defined? If we examine closely what the Darwin in his own time and we in ours find appalling, we see that moralism can be defined as a false, fake, or hypocritical self-promotional 'morality.' generally designed to put down, intimidate, or terrorise rather than be helpful to others. But what then is morality?

...Darwin's central concept of the moral sense is what today we would call moral sensitivity . As he makes evident in the warm wonder and all the ins and outs of his tales of goodness at work in the so-called animal world, but also more abstractly at our level, this is the ability to emphasise, to feel sympathy for, to care for, to resonate to, to want to nurture, or heal, or help - in short, to be morally sensitive to others. But what his exploration makes clear is that he is writing about considerably more than moral sensitivity.

If we are morally sensitive to another we may resonate to their needs or plight with mind and heart - or cognition and affection. This, however, doesn't necessarily mean we are going to get up out of our easy chair with book or watching television to do

anything to help them. This depends on courage and all the other omponents of what we call the will , or in psychological terms, conation.

Throughout Darwin's explanation of how the moral sense developed and operates both in animals and humans, we can see that what holds everything together advancing the individuals over its lifetime and the species over aeons - is the more active involvement in the fate of one another. It is the drive of moral agency.

An agent acts on behalf of another. Moral agency is then the force of action on behalf of moral sensitivity and of another. A moral agent is then the person who acts in such a way.

This is why Darwin's is actually a theory of moral agency rather than of the moral sense, which carries only the more passive meaning that the old philosophical term conveys.

And what is moral intelligence? Out of the grand sweep of the second and third levels for his theory of the moral agent, the evolutionary picture Darwin provides is of the drive of moral sensitivity. Through inspiration and education, this drive is given the edge of moral agency. Then comes what builds true wisdom for our species. Out of the thrust of moral agency comes learning experience that builds within us the core to higher mind of moral intelligence.

And what of morality ? It is the codes, the programming, the human software of whatever evolutionarily prevails at any point or place in time. It is the huge inbuilt user's manual that provides the guidelines for human-to-human and human-toprehuman behaviour.

It is everything that, based on the experience of the past, we have collectively agreed to be ruled by. It is the norms, the rules, the customs, the laws, the commandments whereby out of the power of caring, the power of reflection, the power of language, and the power of habit, we establish social expectancies for moral sensitivity, moral intelligence, and moral agency.

Ethics is then all the sub-booklets in mind, the sub-routines or more finelytuned differentiations, of how these codes are to be applied in specific situations.

The 'moral sense' for Darwin and more broadly considered is all this. But still it is more. Yearning for comfort and reassurance, sensing a transcendent reality and source of meaning, for the sake of a word that might bring this concept to earth, for thousands of years most of us have called this 'more' God, or earlier and again increasingly in our time Goddess.

For many of us - including at least four of the greatest Asian spiritual visionaries, Gautama, Lao Tsu, Confucius, and Mencius, as well as Darwin historically - this has posed difficulties. However, this may be, more important than what now or in the future this Greater Force may be called, it is something that is more felt than named, and seems to me undeniable and here, too, groping in this direction can be detected in Darwin.

Out of something that is timeless and larger than ourselves, embracing the future as well as the present and the past, there works within us something else that additional to our experience of the past also seems to speak to us in the shaping of all moral codes. It is simply there. Out of the evolution of the cosmic mystery that is both within ourselves and that surrounds us, unknowable by that part of our self we think is our mind, yet at times most surely felt within all our being, there seems to be this voice that quietly but persistently urges everything emergent on this earth, including ourselves, to be the best that is in us.

The old theory encourages us to just sit back and enjoy the medium. Forsupposedly the message is settled. Having been scientifically worked out and certified by people much smarter than we are, who are we to question what we have been and will again and again be told? Oh, sure the message may not be what we want to hear, but the old theory affirms that this is the grim reality we must each - as best we can - adapt to.

The new theory tells us that the message is open-ended and eternal, stretching out of the dim past into the mists of the future for our species. It tells us we have a voice in the shaping of the message - but that this message needs a great deal more nurturance,

and understanding, and the assignment of much more of the power of the media to its spreading. Above all, it tells us we are not just what we more or less dutifully adapt to. Much more importantly, we are what we refuse to adapt to.

Concluding Comments

Whether we are prepared to accept it or not, science has had a profound impact on our world-view and our understanding of 'the nature of things'. Many of the principles from science we unconsciously use to inform our morality and structure our society today are in desperate need of revision. Our blind acceptance of the old interpretation of Darwin, with its emphasis on competition and survival of the fittest is leading us into troubled waters. Likewise the materialistic model of Newton is still powerfully influencing us today - with its emphasis on forces and objects.

If our morality and the way we structure society today were to be informed by the principles of today's science, what a different world we would live in. That society would be based on: cooperative relationships rather than competition; a concept of evolution which includes moral agency rather than blind adaptation to the environment through random selection; emphasis on the subjective ahead of the objective; fields and energy would be structured to enable flow in desired directions rather than a focus on objects to be manipulated through the application of force.