Academic journal article Review of Business

Sharing the Burden of Ethical Conduct: The Educational System and the Corporation

Academic journal article Review of Business

Sharing the Burden of Ethical Conduct: The Educational System and the Corporation

Article excerpt

Sharing the Burden of Ethical Conduct:

The Educational System and the Corporation

Introduction

Ethical problems can be thought of as being analogous to physical ailments. Professionals, in some cases, can identify and treat the symptoms of a disease, but are not able to effectively cure the actual disease. There is a form of social satisfaction in being able to at least identify the ailment or problem, even though there is little hope for a "speedy recovery." Yet, complete satisfaction can really only come when the problem can be not only properly diagnosed, but correctly treated. Thus, one of the difficult aspects of ethical issues is not how to identify the problem, but instead how to influence the present social climate and cause a positive, lasting change.

Questionable ethics, specifically within the sales force, is not a new issue, but in today's complex market, more time is being allocated to find ways to keep ethics within prescribed social and corporate guidelines. Ever since mankind's earliest business transactions, there have been those individuals who were able to maximize their efforts at the expense of the rest of the community. Even with the threat of punitive action applied as negative reinforcement, there has always been economic incentives to diverge from established social values.

Potential Cause of Ethical Digression

One can hypothesize that ethical divergence equates in some way with the potential for unusual economic gain. The personnel in the sales departments have a greater opportunity to benefit from economic gain, since effort is directly related to income.

In reviewing the literature, studies indicate that successful salespeople are able to translate their efforts to financial rewards. From a study conducted by McMurry and Arnold, one of the primary attributes of a successful salesperson was the persistent hunger for wealth[11]. In an article written by Raymond Dreyfack, an identifiable quality of success was the ability to link sales success to specific material acquisition[3]. However, just because a salesperson can better visualize financial gain does not necessarily imply he will be unethical. In fact, no relationship between personality characteristics and unethical behavior can be legitimately established. In a study by Dubinsky and Ingram, six variable where examined that may also be linked to ethical divergence[4]. The variables were:

* Role conflict * Role ambiguity * Job tenure * Educational level * Major sources of income * Intensity of competition.

The results of the survey found no relationship between any of the six variables and ethical conflict[4]. Thus one of the future problems with ethical issues may be how to learn more about what personality or situational characteristics actually provoke unethical behavior.

Role of the Business School

Consistent reinforcement of ethics in education may be thought of as a necessary step which will develop and strengthen a well developed sense of personal morality. Also a curriculum incorporating ethics can teach future business leaders how to manager their companies in such a way as to minimize the likelihood of unethical behavior[18].

Some studies suggest that ethics should be blended into the existing courses that are already taught by college level business schools. As stated by Noah, "When (the subject of) ethics is taught separately, students get the idea it is divorced from subjects like marketing, finance, and accounting"[13].

Other studies agree that ethics should be incorporated into the specific subject areas that are taught. For instance, the accounting department should commit themselves to teaching situations where ethics can be directly involved with the accountant. This same study goes on to point out four main areas that make up the students development of ethical awareness:

* Legitimizing ethical consideration * Fostering an awareness of the ethical

components that make up the decision process * Providing conceptual framework * Helping students to apply ethics to real world

activities[7]. …

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