What is ethics? Ethics can be defined as a set of principles used by an individual to govern his or her decisions in an effort to ensure fairness and equality. Business ethics, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is the applied ethics discipline that addresses the moral features of commercial activity. The same source also gives a history of business ethics which states that the concept as an academic principle is relatively young-only about forty years old; but in general is as old as trade itself. In this paper, the following aspects of ethics will be discussed: Ethical issues faced in business; recent trends in business ethics; international considerations in business ethics; quantitative techniques and ethics.
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Perhaps one of the most talked about scandals involving ethics was the collapse of ENRON, an American energy company based in Houston Texas. Since this, businesses seem to pay closer attention to providing employees with training in Ethics. According to the 2011 National Business Ethics Survey, some of the key findings were as follows in relation to recent trends:
■Misconduct witnessed by U.S. workers is now at historic lows, while reporting of misconduct is now at near highs.
■ Retaliation against employee whistleblowers rose sharply.
■ The percentage of employees who perceived pressure to compromise standards in order to do their jobs climbed five points from 2009 to 13 percent.
■ As the economy gets better – and companies and employees become more optimistic about their financial futures – it seems likely that misconduct will rise and reporting will drop, mirroring the growth in pressure and retaliation that have already taken place and conforming to historic patterns. (www.ethics.org) International Considerations in Business Ethics
With the recent growth in International Business, International Business ethics has become a major concern. Much of what is ethical and what is unethical falls into the grey area. On an international level, not only is it grey, it is very abstract. As difficult as it is to govern ethics within one culture, it is infinitely more difficult to govern across cultures. A