Is business ethics an oxymoron today?
Collins has claimed that business ethics can be considered to be an oxymoron. By describing business ethics as an oxymoron, Collins meant that ‘business’ and ‘ethics’ are believed to be two conflicting concepts. By stating that business ethics is an oxymoron, it can be interpreted that ethical business cannot be achieved and that business is fundamentally unethical, or at the very least, amoral. Albert Carr reiterated this belief in his article ‘Is Business Bluffing Ethical’, that the ‘game’ of business is not scrutinised by the same ethical standards that govern the rest of society, but should instead be compared to a game of poker, where deception and lying were entirely accepted.
It is not at all surprising that people believe this to be so. Numerous scandals highlighting the disagreeable business activities, such as the exploitation of sweatshop workers, deception of unwary consumers, and the polluting of rivers with industrial chemicals, have brought to light the unethical practices in which some firms have gone about operating. Nevertheless, just because such malpractices occur it does not correlate that there is not some sort of standards and beliefs influencing such decisions. This is because even what we believe to be ‘bad’ ethics is still ethics. Resulting in individuals attempting to clarify and comprehend why those choices are made, in order to try and determine whether more acceptable business practices can be developed.