Primarily, ethics in business is affected by three sources – culture, religion and laws of the state. It is for this reason we do not have uniform or completely similar standards across the globe. These three factors exert influences in varying degrees on humans which ultimately get reflected in the ethics of the organisation. For example, ethics followed by Infosys are different than those followed by Reliance Industries or by Tata Group for that matter. Also, ethical procedures vary across geographic boundaries.
- Religion: It is one of the oldest foundations of ethical standards. Religion wields varying influences across various sects of people. It is believed that ethics is a manifestation of the divine and so it draws a line between the good and the bad in the society. Depending upon the degree of religious influence we have different sects of people; we have sects, those who are referred to as orthodox or fundamentalists and those who are called as moderates. Needless to mention, religion exerts itself to a greater degree among the orthodox and to lesser extent in case of moderates. Fundamentally, however, all the religions operate on the principle of reciprocity towards one’s fellow beings!
- Culture: Culture is a pattern of behaviors and values that are transferred from one generation to another, those that are considered as ideal or within the acceptable limits. No wonder therefore that it is the culture that predominantly determines what is wrong and what is right. It is definitely the culture that defines certain behavior as acceptable and others as unacceptable.
Human civilization in fact has passed through various cultures, wherein the moral code was redrafted depending upon the epoch that was being enacted. What was immoral or unacceptable in certain cultures became acceptable later on and vice versa.
During the early years of human development where ones who were the strongest were the ones who survived! Violence, hostility and ferocity were thus the acceptable. Approximately 10,000 years ago when human civilization entered the settlement phase, hard work, patience and peace were seen as virtues and the earlier ones were considered evil. These values are still put in practice by the managers of today!
Still further, when human civilization witnessed the industrial revolution, the ethics of agrarian economy was replaced by the lawpertaining to technology, property rights etc. Ever since a tussle has been ensued between the values of the agrarian and the industrial economy.
- Law: Laws are procedures and code of conduct that are laid down by the legal system of the state. They are meant to guide human behavior within the social framework. The major problem with the law is that all the ethical expectations cannot be covered by thern law and specially with ever changing external environment, the law keeps on changing but often fails to keep pace. In business, complying with the rule of law is taken as ethical behavior, but organisations often break laws by evading taxes, compromising on quality, service norms etc.
Q.9. What are the various difficulties in ethical decision making?
Ans. Difficulties in Ethical Decision Making: Decision making involves a great degree of value
clarity, ethical decision making involves much more! Unlike certain financial, inventory and production decisions, ethical decisions cannot be coded into digital machines. They require critical thinking and evaluation.