C. Wright Mills rode a motorcycle. He was a sociologist at Columbia U. Some people may think he does not fit into a management or business class since he was more well known for describing the way the elites in US society wielded power. He did not believe in value-free social science (in contrast to many sociologists of the day and now). A book list is here.
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There are several schools of ethical or moral reasoning: consequentialist, deontological, virtue ethics (Aristotlean), pragmatism, Kantian… and so on. The chapters By Treviño and Nelson from their book, Managing Business Ethics, provide some overview of these schools. The textbook is a fine example of a textbook in ethics. I like the way they focus on “managing” ethics. Still, given all the other material we have at our disposal, I opted for you to read the original materials of these schools.
You can find a good list of ethics and philosophy topics at the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. How did I find this? From the BU library resources by topics, of course! The Stanford EoP includes this article about business ethics which I look forward to reading.
Stakeholder versus shareholder encapsulates many of the core business ethics decisions of our times. Personally, I find it far too easy to misstate which one I mean. For instance, I might say “a shareholder perspective will consult with all the affected parties.” Oooops. That is wrong.
Stakeholder management and theory are strongly associated with R. Edward Freeman. He is a big shot and teaches at Darden B School . He has an awesome beard. He originated many of the ideas of stakeholder theory in a book in 1984.
Something I learned while teaching last week: in class, we discussed how “real” professions like law, medicine, accounting, k-12 teaching have the power to control who practices the profession. Their codes of ethics are different than the more general idea of ethics. They are really law-like rules. So, what I learned: business is not one of those professions. We don’t require you to pass a test to start a business, or to have a license to be a manager of a publically traded firm. Bill Gates, Ben Franklin (no formal education!), and all the other garage entrepreneurs in American history and mythology are testimony to this. But, the lack of professionalization of business did not “have to” be that way. Are there other barriers to entry now? Are there quasi codes of ethics? Could it be different? That is, could a real professionalization of business emerge?
- What is ‘Business’ and Why Does That Matter? (businessethicsblog.com)
- The Point of Ethics (arthurdobrin.wordpress.com)
- Your Ethic Muscles – What shape are they in? Fit or Flabby? (psychologytoday.com)