Business Ethics and Moral Motivation

Published: 2021-10-04 08:50:13
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Category: Business Ethics

Type of paper: Essay

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This is a question that has been studied quite extensively by criminologists as well, yet their research has had little impact on the reflections of business ethicists. In this article, I attempt to show how a criminological perspective can help to illuminate some traditional questions in business ethics. I begin by explaining why criminologists reject three of the most popular folk theories of criminal motivation. I go on to discuss a more satisfactory theory, involving the so-called ‘‘techniques of neutralization,’’ and its implications for business ethics.It is common, for instance, at business ethics Joseph Heath is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Communicative Action and Rational Choice (MIT), The Ef? cient Society (Penguin), and with Andrew Potter, The Rebel Sell (HarperCollins).
conferences for the majority of presentations to be concerned, not with ethical issues in the narrow sense of the term (where there is often some question as to where the correct course of action lies), but with straightforward criminality.In this respect, all the talk of ‘‘ethics scandals’’ in the early years of the twenty-? rst century has been very misleading, since what really took place at corporations like Enron, Worldcom, Parmalat and elsewhere was, ? rst and foremost, an outbreak of high-level, large-scale white collar crime. Each illegal act was no doubt surrounded by a broad penumbral region of unethical conduct, yet in each case the core actions all involved a failure to respect the law. The high incidence of crime in the corporate environment is, in itself, something of a mysterious phenomenon.Most well-adjusted adults would never consider shoplifting from their local grocery store, or stealing from their neighbor’s backyard, despite having ample opportunity to do so. Yet according to a United States Chamber of Commerce Study, 75% of individuals steal from their employer at some time or other (McGurn, 1988). Studies of supermarket and restaurant employees found that 42 and 60% (respectively) admitted to stealing from their employer in the past six months (Boye and Jones, 1997; Hollinger et al.
, 1992).

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