Sunday, 16 September 2012

Being Ethical: Ethics as the Foundation of Business

Businesses have to act in self interest but to what extent should they sacrifice ethical behaviour? The question has become increasingly relevant with the recent high profile corporate scandals such as Satyam and the 2G scam. 

But can, and should, a business behave ethically at all? Is the corporate social responsibility of a company just to make profits as Nobel Prize winning economist, Milton Friedman, once famously declared? In this timely book, Professor Manikutty takes us through the minefield of business and ethics looking at the ways in which ethics enters work and the choices available to companies and to individuals. 

He argues that being ethical is not a simple question of doing the right thing vs the wrong thing; it is to find a balance between multiple right or wrong choices, arriving at not a solution but a compromise. Using a variety of examples and case studies from Indian businesses, Being Ethical is an indispensable book for any responsible manager. 

Does business need to be ethically neutral, not unethical, but non-ethical? Asks Manikutty in this smartly brought out reader for the Indian corporate mover and shaker. If the only social responsibility of business is to make profits, is it enough that it is done legally? That is, respecting the laws of the country you work in. What of ethics? To ask the question in another way: Is being ethical good for business? It increases credibility, generates trust, improves relationship with stakeholders, and believe it or not, can reduce cost of litigations, says the author. But is it practical? Tata’s story in India, missing in this book, could have been instructive.

Professor S. Manikutty has specialized in Business Policy and Strategy and his areas of interest include strategic management and competitive strategy, leadership, global competitiveness of industries, corporate governance and strategies for family businesses. He is the Regional Editor (Asia and the Pacific) of European Journal of International Mangement (EJIM), a member of the Editorial Board of Vikalpa, the journal of IIM Ahmedabad, Journal of Human Values published by the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta and of International Journal of Innovation and Incubation published by Chinese Business Incubation Association (Taiwan) as well as associate editor of Journal of Asia Entrepreneurship and Sustainability published by St. Paul University (Quezon City, Philippines).