Is business ethics a contradiction in terms? Absolutely not, says Robert Solomon. In fact, he maintains that sound ethics is a necessary precondition of any long-term business enterprise, and that excellence in business must exist on the foundation of values that most of us hold dear.
Drawing on twenty years of experience consulting with major corporations on ethics, Solomon clarifies the difficult ethical choices all people in business face. He uses an "Aristotelian" approach to remind readers that a corporation--like an individual--is embedded in a community, and that corporate values such as fairness and honesty are meaningless until transformed into action. Without a base of shared values, trust and mutual benefits, today's national and international business world would fall apart. In keeping with his conviction that virtue and profit must thrive together, Solomon both examines the ways in which deficient values actually destroy businesses, and debunks the pervasive myths that encourage unethical business practices.
Complete with a working catalog of virtues designed to illustrate the importance of integrity in any business situation, this compelling handbook contains a gold mine of wisdom for either the small business manager or the corporate executive struggling with ethical issues.
Excellence in business depends on "integrity, values and virtues" as much as profits, says philosopher Robert C. Solomon. In A Better Way to Think About Business
, Solomon says that business leaders shouldn't be torn between doing what is right and doing what is necessary to make money. "This is not only personally painful, but it is also bad for business. It leads to inefficiency and distrust. It leads to poor morale, bitterness and cynicism. And it results in a diminished reputation, both of one's own business and of business in general." A good corporation fosters an environment that encourages people to develop their skills and their values. A bad corporation, on the other hand, is a "white-collar version of hell" that ultimately pays for its sins through disgruntled employees and unhappy customers, says Solomon, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
Solomon spends a chapter debunking the Machiavellian myths that now dominate business. He argues in another for integrity in free enterprise. He devotes a third section of the book to describing 45 business virtues, including compassion and trust, and the importance of each. He also provides a historical and philosophical context, citing Aristotle and Adam Smith, among other great thinkers. A Better Way to Think About Business is persuasive reading for employers, employees, and those concerned about corporate behavior. --Dan Ring