According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, there is a difference between the concept of business ethics and what is actually put into practice. There are many debates among academic business ethicists over the different aspects of business ethics. However, in my opinion, these debates focus only on the conceptual ideas behind business ethics and what they think should be taught in universities throughout the country instead of on practical and helpful information regarding ethics. Another issue is that the business ethics discussed in this article only revolve around large, publically traded companies. In reality, this type of business is a minority compared to the multiple styles of business so the article cannot really represent all business ethics.
In the article, business ethics is discussed in segments starting with the history, the role of the corporation, employment relations, international business ethics, and criticisms. The history section of the article is pretty short and simple since the academic discipline of business ethics has only been around for a couple of decades even though ethics has been around for centuries.
The role of the corporation is split up into two main questions. The first question is “Is the corporation a moral agent?” This raises the debate among business ethicists of whether the corporation is seen as a moral person or a moral agent. The second question is “How and in whose interest ought the corporation to be governed?” Again, the classic debate of the stakeholder theory versus the shareholder theory is raised once more as business ethicists cannot agree.
Yet another issue that occurs among business ethicists centers on employment relations. The dispute focuses on the ethics of at-will employment versus just cause employment.
The last issue that arises in business ethics revolves around international business ethics. Each country and culture has a different set of ethical codes so when companies expand internationally; they need to know to either follow their own ethics or the ethics of the host country. Business ethicists therefore argue over which set of ethics to follow.
These four different never-ending debates reinforce the idea that business ethics is focused on debating issues rather than collaborating on a shared meaning. If the purpose of business ethics is to educate the younger generation of entrepreneurs on making the “right” decisions then all that business ethicists have done is cause confusion on what exactly should be done. Instead of being stubborn on these issues, business ethicists should work together to develop an common definition of business ethics in order to help entrepreneurs in the future in a practical manner instead of conceptually.