Business Ethics: Moral Philosophies
Christopher Robertson stated in his article:
“Business ethics researchers have made significant progress toward the goal of attaining a deeper understanding of the ethical decision-making process (Cullen et al., 2004; Hosmer, 2000). Scholars have studied numerous influential factors and theories related to ethical decision making such as individual ethical values, moral intensity, situational factors, moral philosophies, cultural values, and economic variables (Fritzsche and Becker, 1984; Jones, 1991; Ralston et al., 1997). Philosophers have traditionally contrasted moral theories based on principles (deontological models) and models that stress the consequences of actions (teleological models) (Forsyth, 1981a). “ Ferrell, Ferrell & Fraedrich (2013) describes these theories as:
“Deontology focuses on the preservation of individual rights and on the intentions associated with a particular behavior rather than on its consequences. Fundamental to deontology theory is the idea that equal respect must be given to all persons. Teleology refers to moral philosophies in which an act is considered morally right or acceptable if it produces some desired result, such as pleasure, knowledge, and career-growth, the realization of self-interest, utility, wealth or even fame.”
Moral philosophy is an area of research that is concerned with (Ferrell et al., 2005, p. 94),"the principles or rules that people use to decide what is right or wrong." Principles and rules that cognitively and morally guide individuals through the ethical decision-making process are likely to vary across diverse ethical, cultural, and national settings.
Leaders in an organization are the ones responsible for deciding the culture of the company. Their decisions will be based on their upbringing, the values they were taught from their parents and grandparents, their religious beliefs and any other outside influences they were exposed to.
Derry (1989) argues that first-level managers' moral dilemmas are often caused by their desire to meet the demands of their role as well as protect the human needs and welfare of others, and that often role-responsibilities overshadow one's concern for others' welfare (cf., Kelley, 1989). Ethical and moral philosophies can play a significant role to influence a leader’s behavior in the corporate environment. Forsyth (1992) asserted that a business leader’s moral judgments are induced by two important elements – “a concern for values and promoting well-being.” For example, an individual with a teleological philosophy acts as a situationist that advocates setting goals for the best possible consequences regardless of moral tenets. A leader who operates from a virtue ethics philosophy is a subjectivist, and may veto moral guidelines and core judgments based on personal principles and practical concerns, whereas an individual that follows a utilitarian philosophy is an absolutist that assumes their actions are ethical, contingent upon yielding positive outcomes that conform to moral rules (Forsyth, 1992).
The combination of globalization and corporate accountability legislation has led to a heightened interest in business ethics in multinational settings (Cullen et al., 2004; Robertson et al., 2002). Despite this progress, a gap still exists related to the link between cultural values and moral philosophy. Case studies in ethics confirm that different countries have different cultural values. To be successful in globalization organizations must have thorough knowledge of the intricacies of each country they are dealing with. Swaidan, Rawwas, M. Y. A., & Vitell (2008) had this to say: “Understanding the relationship between culture and personal moral philosophies is a major challenge for global marketers. A greater understanding of how culture influences moral philosophies will allow firms to develop better global…