Business Ethics

Business is an integral part of the social system; and it influences other elements of society. The organization of the business, the way the business functions innovations, new ideas etc., may affect society. Business activities have greatly influenced social attitudes, values, outlooks, customs traits etc. Thus, it is true that business influences society. It is also true that society influences business. The type of products to be manufactured and marketed, the marketing strategies to be employed, and the way the business should be organized are all influenced by the society. Hence, a business has to adapt to these uncontrollable external environments.

Business, in general, refers to the totality of all enterprises in a country, engaged in manufacturing, industry, trade, finance, banking etc. In modern societies, business occupies a dominating place affecting the life of citizens in different ways. Traditionally, the term business commonly referred to commercial activities aimed at making a profit. The economic theory made a fundamental assumption that profit maximization was the basic objective of every firm. According to Milton Friedman, "there is only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits". The old concept of business, confining it to commerce and private profit, has undergone a radical change. Today, business is regarded as a social institution forming an integral part of the social system. Therefore, business has to contribute to man's happiness, his freedom and his mental, moral and spiritual growth.

According to Prof. Harold, "In a time when bribes, illegal pay-off, price conspiracies and accusations of irresponsibility continue to tarnish the image of American business, the problem of ethics in the free enterprise system remains a valid and difficult one".

Calkins is of the view that - "It is now recognized that the direction of business is important to the public welfare, that business men perform a social function".

David and Blomstorm remarks that business is "a social institution, performing a social mission and having a broad influence on the way people live and work together."

Thus the term business refers to the development and processing of economic values in society. As Rabbi Hillel put it - "If I am not for myself, then who is for me? And if I am not for others then who am I? Thus, the relations between the individual and his actions in the society demands that the need of the individual require that he be for others as well as for himself. According to Davis and Blomstorm, "Our modern view of society is an ecological one. Ecology is concerned with the mutual relations of human populations or systems with their environment. It is necessary to take this broad view because the influence and involvement of business are extensive. Business cannot isolate itself from the rest of society. Today the whole society is a business's environment".


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