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The Failure of Business Ethics

Zsolt Boda and Laszlo Zsolnai’s paper entitled “The Failure of Business Ethics” was published in Society and Business Review (2016, Vol.11, No. 1, pp. 93–104.)

The paper investigates the systemic causes of the failure of business ethics and suggests some possible remedies. The discipline and the movement of business ethics has at least three decades’ history. Business ethics has developed concepts and theories, and provided empirical evidence. However, business ethics as a movement and as a practice has failed to deliver the expected results. The paper uses findings from management ethics, moral psychology and corporate governance to analyze the underlying causes of unethical corporate behavior.

Boda and Zsolnai argue that the failure of business ethics is deeply rooted in today’s corporation-ruled business world. Business ethics has failed to understand the systemic features of modern business and therefore missed its target. The social, ethical and environmental problems caused by corporations may require a different kind of approach based on law, politics and social institutions. The paper uses models from outside ethics to suggest how business organizations can become more ethical in their functioning.