Business Ethics and Religion

Business Ethics and Religion

Business Ethics and Religion After the Financial Collapse (Theology on Tap) – YouTube

Business Ethics and Religion After the Financial Collapse (Theology on Tap) – YouTube

Richard Shields, PhD, Faculty of Theology,

Religion , churches have a lot to say about the economy

Have churches engaged in a transformative dialogue with the business community?

There seems to be a disconnect between the accumulated wisdom of religion and the logic of business in the world.

Another disconnect between the ethical core of people and the workplace …

“I’m just making a living.” Bricklayers at a death camp

“you gotta figure out the cost benefit ratios” fines as opposed to violation costs

“It’s up to the regulators.”

Neutral or amoral world of work

Business ethics seen as being imposed on business from the outside

Ethical norms based on the intrinsic interest in business

Discussion of Catholic Social Doctrine

From around the web –

From the web site, QDVF:

To this point, our discussion has centered on the limitations of modernism on business ethics – namely, moral relativism and a materialistic focus regarding ethical behavior. We next examine how the Christian worldview addresses these issues followed by how it might influence ethics research. Christian ethics founded on Scripture gives moral standards or a common platform that allow us to judge between right and wrong.

In business situations, people must decide what they ought to do and what ethical principles to follow. They must know that these principles are right and that it is reliable. This is not to say that an absolute moral law must be strictly followed given that the boundaries of moral law and its varied applications will always be debated. But the very idea of right and wrong makes sense only if there is a final standard by which we can make moral judgments (Colson and Pearcey, 1999).

From the web site, Conversation in Faith Weblog:

What, if anything, does Christianity offer to the business  and the ethical decisions that people must make?

Honesty? Fairness?  Trustworthiness?   The Golden Rule?  Honoring God by the way we conduct ourselves?

Yes,certainly. But if that is all we have to offer, it’s not substantially different than other faiths.  Are Jews to be fair, trustworthy, and honest? Of course. Muslims? Of course.  This degree of similarity isn’t surprising considering the close geographical, historical and cultural proximity of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Christianity emerges from Judaism and Islam develops in a world shaped and influenced by Christianity and Judaism.

So again, what, if anything, constitutes a distinctly Christian business ethic? Perhaps we ought to ask, is there a uniquely Christian business ethic?

And from the web site, Catholic Analysis:

Amid the ongoing debate over issues of economics and ethics, Benedict XVI has addressed these issues on several occasions in recent months. On May 26 he spoke to a group of young people from Confindustria, the General Confederation of Italian Industry.

Every business, the Pope noted, should be considered first and foremost as a group of people, whose rights and dignity should be respected. Human life and its values, the Pontiff continued, should always be the guiding principle and end of the economy.

In this context, Benedict XVI acknowledged that for business, making a profit is a value that they can rightly put as an objective of their activity. At the same time the social teaching of the Church insists that businesses must also safeguard the dignity of the human person, and that even in moments of economic difficulties, business decisions must not be guided exclusively by considerations of profit.

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Does Teaching Business Ethics Matter? From the Ethics Sage

Are Ethics Courses Failing to Produce Ethical Business People? – Ethics Sage

The bottom line is there is no way of knowing whether business ethics education has made a difference. A graduate of a prestigious school might commit fraud in the future, but it doesn’t mean business ethics has failed them or even all students. Organizational pressures and the culture of a firm can create barriers to ethical behavior. The key is to find a way to work through the obstacles and voice your values.

I’m asked all the time why I teach ethics and am challenged whether it is even possible to change one’s ethics by a college course. After all, some argue, ethics is formed at a very early age. I don’t dispute that but do point out that my goal is to get students to reflect on their actions in a safe setting so they can better develop the tools to deal with ethical challenges in the workplace. I am not a guarantor of ethical action.

Teaching ethics should not rely on having one college course in business ethics and that is it. I see the failure of business ethics education to be one of not integrating ethics into each course and each decision in business. When colleges rely on one course to teach ethics, they are not sending the message that ethics counts.  If they cover it in all courses and in the context of functional courses, then they send a completely opposite signal that it is an important part of every business decision.

I can teach business ethics – I know it from past experiences including grading papers, exams, and student presentations and papers on the topics. What I don’t know is whether students will really learn the lesson. Similarly, I can teach Intermediate Accounting to my students but I don’t know if they have truly learned the material and will be successful on the CPA Exam or in their accounting careers.

There is old African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child”. It is quite appropriate to say that it takes an organization to raise an ethical employee.

Are Ethics Courses Failing to Produce Ethical Business People? – Ethics Sage

(I should mention that a great deal of this posting dealt with the “Giving Voice to Values” curriculum and the work of Mary C. Gentile. I have visited the web site for this curriculum and liked what I saw.)

I guess you could ask if classes in art, history or music are effective? It’s hard to measure the results once you wander even a little distance from the hard sciences, and even they have trouble coming up with hard data at times. Many of the most important subjects like leadership are difficult to teach and have results hard to measure. Ethics is no different. We “cast our bread on the water” and hope for it to return.

James Pilant

“What, no measurable results!”


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Islamic Business Ethics!

Business Ethics – Mufti Menk – YouTube

Mufti Menk explains the rules of a good bargain.

I have taught business ethics for some years now and I have tried to emphasize the application of religion to the field. Several Protestant denominations have strong codes of business ethics, and the Catholic Church has an vast array of teachings on the proper conduct of business from a moral standpoint. However, both Judaism and the religion of Islam have a lot to say about business ethics. I have been impressed by the Islamic take on what constitutes proper business conduct.

This brief video is eloquent and beautifully explains the concept of “blessings” in business dealings. Blessings in this teaching are the benefits of the bargain. They are not to be concentrated on one side of the deal but both parties are to share in the prosperity brought about by business deals. I was delighted with the concept and I hope you enjoy it too.


Kaaba at night (from wikipedia)

In these days, when many are willing to judge all practitioners of Islam as militant radicals, it is important to recognize the basic morality of the religion and the benefits it has brought hundreds of millions of people. Among those benefits is a strong well taught set of rules for Islamic business ethics.

James Pilant

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The Work of Luke H. Lee

Example of supply chain

Image via Wikipedia

Keeping a web site and maintaining it can be a real pain but one of the great pleasures of it, is that you get to provide support to your friends to get the word out about their ideas. Here is a piece from my blogging friend, Luke H. Lee.

The article is significantly longer than this small excerpt and you probably need to see the diagrams for full understanding. So please read the whole thing.

James Pilant

Realizing a better world

If a public information-based supply chain infrastructure system is developed and fully implemented in the real market, the existing efficiency-oriented market process would be changed to a more effectiveness-oriented market process, which is more suitable for the modern information market. This would significantly contribute to the improvement of employment on the whole. The self-generation capability of the market would improve as well.

Luke Ho-Hyung Lee

With the influence of this new, more effectiveness-oriented supply chain process, the existing competition by size would change into competition by quality and service. The existing efficiency-oriented mass production process and mass-market consumption model would also be altered into a more effectiveness-oriented, diversified, or individualized production and consumption system. Owing to these changes, local employment conditions would improve considerably, and the business environment for middle- and small-sized companies and for the general service industry would improve significantly. Moreover, companies that off-shored and outsourced to lower labor cost countries would come back to the domestic arena

Realizing a better world

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Are Lion Burgers in Poor Taste?

Sometimes something happens that catches your attention. This is it.

I laughed when I first heard this. Why the fuss, I thought, calling a fancy burger, a lion burger is hardly crime. Then I read the article. The burgers are 80% lion meat. I didn’t know you could get it. I can’t figure out why you would want to get it.

So, my second thought was, well maybe, a lion killed his sister and this is revenge. Not a good reason to eat lion, but better than nothing. Nope, no family losses to lions. What does that leave? Is he allergic to cats?

This is just a bad idea. Get a regular burger, call it a lion kill burger, a lion victory over some beefy animal. We have lots of beefy animals and very few lions.

I suppose we should ask at some point – is it ethical to eat lion meat or to sell it? If you believe that meat eating is okay, eating lion is probably okay save from an aesthetic point of view. Currently the lion is not an endangered species although I have confidence that human greed and incompetence will eventually get it there.

James Pilant

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Power and Authority (via Business Management)

Here we have a discourse on authority, a rare and precious gem. Few understand it. Most who believe they have it don’t. Those that understand it seldom explain. Can you tell if the author knows his subject or not?

Here’s a paragraph –

French and Raven identified five bases of power as: legitimate, referent, expert, reward and coercive. Legitimate power is authority. For example, police has legitimate power. Referent power arises from personal authority. It can be someone whom you like and want to follow (e.g your role model). When someone has expert power, that means this person has knowledge which others respect. Reward and Coercive power is the classic definition of carrot and stick. It means the person who holds the power to reward or punish has this type of power.

James Pilant

Power means “the ability to influence people”. For example, if you have the ability to persuade your friends to move in the same direction as you do, then you have the power. Authority is the “official power”. For example if you are assigned to a manager position where your subordinates are obliged to follow your orders then you have the authority. Military officers have the authority. French and Raven identified five bases of power as: legitimat … Read More