Corporate social responsibility has become a heavily discussed topic in business ethics. Identifying some generally accepted moral principles as a basis for discussion, Individuals, Groups, and Business Ethics examines ethical dimensions of our relationships with families, friends and workmates, the extent to which we have obligations as members of teams and communities, and how far ethics may ground our commitments to organisations and countries. It offers an innovative analysis that differentiates amongst our genuine ethical obligations to individuals, counterfeit obligations to identity groups, and complex role-based obligations in organised groups. It suggests that often individuals need intuitive moral judgment developed by experience, reflection and dialogue to identify the individual obligations that emerge for them in complex group situations. These situations include some where people have to discern what their organisations’ corporate social responsibilities imply for them as individuals, and other situations where individuals have to deal with conflicts amongst their obligations or with efforts by other people to exploit them. This book gives an integrated, analytical account of how our obligations are grounded, provides a major theoretical case study of such ethical processes in action, and then considers some extended implications.
‘By exploring the dynamics of moral responsibility, influence, and decision making in groups, this book offers a realistic picture of how people make decisions under the influence of others in organizations.’ – Joanne Ciulla, University of Richmond, USA
Introduction 1. Ethical Principles and Ethical Decision Making 2. Ethics, Society and Individuals 3. Individuals, Expectations and Groups 4. Institutions, Norms and Ethics 5. A Hypothetical Case: Endeavour Organisation 6. Conflicts of Obligations 7. Obligations, Exploitation and identity 8. Decisions, Groups and Reasons
Business ethics is a site of contestation, both in theory and practice. For some it serves as a salve for the worst effects of capitalism, giving businesses the means self-regulate away from entrenched tendencies of malfeasance and exploitation. For others business ethics is a more personal matter, concerning the way that individuals can effectively wade through the moral quagmires that characterise so many dimensions of business life. Business ethics has also been conceived of as a fig leaf designed to allow business-as-usual to continue while covering over the less savoury practices so as to create an appearance of righteousness.
Across these and other approaches, what remains critical is to ensure that the ethics of business is the subject of incisive questioning, critical research, and diverse theoretical development. It is through such scholarly inquiry that the increasingly powerful purview of corporations and business activity can be interrogated, understood and, ultimately, reformulated. This series contributes to that goal by publishing the latest research and thinking across the broad terrain that characterised business ethics.
The series welcomes contributions in areas including: corporate social responsibility; critical approaches to business ethics; ethics and corporate governance; ethics and diversity; feminist ethics; globalization and business ethics; philosophical traditions of business ethics; postcolonialism and the ethics of business; production and supply chain ethics; resistance, political activism and ethics; sustainability, environmentalism and climate change; the ethics of corporate misconduct; the politics of business ethics; and worker’s rights.