Chapter 4: Ethics and profit making
In recent years, the debate over the role and ethical responsibility of organizations in society has intensified. There are those who believe that organizations are not equipped to deal with social issues and that they should focus on their primary business by producing goods/services and generating high profits for their stockholders (see Friedman, 1970; Ottaway, 2001). Others, however, assert that business organizations are economic actors that assume social and political roles and accordingly they have a responsibility that goes far beyond the economic domain (see Barton, 2011; Porter and Kramer, 2006). The report by the Financial Times, and other major media outlets, that executives in Britain have been prioritizing profits over principles and putting financial goals above ethical considerations has fueled discussion on the goals and profit making of corporations in the business world (see Groom, 2011). This concern is not new and, among other issues, has situated ethics at the center stage of discourse on the role of business in society. As we indicated in the previous chapter, the attitude toward this matter is influenced by many factors, including the stage of economic development, religion, and openness. The interplay of these factors shapes how people in certain civilizations/societies and time periods deal with business issues and emerging or pressing events; religion, however, remains a determining force in ethics formation and application.
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