March 25, 2014 Leave a comment
Business ethics are a hot topic these days. With everything from insider trading to employee theft on the rise, it is no wonder that businesses are beginning to focus on the impact of ethical leadership. But along with this new focus comes a lot of “gray area.” Many times, managers are forced to decide on issues where there are arguments on both sides – a problem that makes ethical decision-making very difficult.
“Business ethics” is often regarded as an oxymoron, in the way that “military intelligence” and “open secret” are considered to be counterintuitive. Given that business has to do with promoting one’s business for profit or self-interest, while ethics concerns serving or caring for others, the term “business ethics” sounds contradictory. For this reason, important questions arise concerning the possibility of business ethics as such: How is business ethics possible? Is there such a thing as business ethics?
Philosophers would try to answer this question through the so-called bottom-line approach (aka someone is ethically good as long as he or she does not break any of the laws of society). How should a Christian, then, respond to the question? Is it good enough for a Christian not to break any laws in the business world? If not, what makes Christian business ethics unique and distinguishable from the general philosophical approach?
First we’ll look at general business ethics, followed by what I think are three important Christian distinctives.