Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Emotional Intelligence and the Ethic of Care

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Emotional Intelligence and the Ethic of Care

Article excerpt

THE ABILITY TO TEACH INDIVIDUALS in organizational and workplace settings to make ethical decisions has become a significant problem for 21st-century companies (Ferrell, Fraedrich, and Ferrell, 2015). Enron, WorldCom, the housing crisis, and Bernie Madoffhave become unwelcome additions to our daily lexicon. Increasing public outrage has been aimed at both the business community and the business of higher education following the barrage of highly publicized scandals since 2000. A recent National Business Ethics Survey reported that 45% of employees have observed at least one unethical act of workplace misconduct in their organization. It may be argued that ethics has reached the status of an organizational crisis. For perhaps the first time ever, organizations realize that they must be responsible for the ethical instruction of their employees, and they can no longer simply rely on hiring bright and capable people and hoping that they would behave ethically when the situation calls for it (Ferrell et al., 2015). However, this realization creates a problem in many organizations.

The problem is the inherent difficulty associated with teaching correct ethical and moral behavior inside workplace and organizational settings. This article includes a review of that specific business problem in light of two unique but connected ideas. The first unique idea is the concept of viewing ethical decisionmaking through a specific framework, the Ethic of Care (E°C). The second unique idea is the concept that leader emotional intelligence (EI) relates to the ability to introduce the E°C as a framework for fostering and encouraging ethical behavior in organizations. In connection with the business problem and the unique ideas, three specific propositions are presented in this paper. In addition to these three propositions, the article includes a discussion of ethics in business, applying ethics, ethics and EI, and the E°C and EI. First, a brief review of the relevant literature is presented.

Literature review

Ethics in business

Velasquez (2006) notes that business ethics is applied ethics and that it is the application or understanding of what is good and right to that group of institutions, technologies, transactions, activities, and various pursuits that we refer to as a business. Any discussion of business ethics, therefore, begins by providing a framework of basic principles for understanding what is meant by the terms good and right and only then can one proceed to discuss the various implications these practices have for our business world (Velasquez, 2006). Schlegelmilch (2010) discusses the evolution of applied ethics to specific business disciplines. He also identifies 18 different areas where ethical issues can affect a business environment. Although not all of these areas will be considered here, it may be beneficial to list all 18 areas in order to provide a full framework for the discussion of ethics and business. These areas include: product-related issues, price-related issues, distribution, the promotion of products or services, sales and sales people, codes and ethical norms, consumers and consumer protections, issues specifically related to vulnerable consumer populations, international or crosscultural issues, consumer research and privacy, consumer education, issues related to environmentally sound or green initiatives, social marketing or social media, law or law enforcement, internet-related issues, religious issues, and the review of scholarly literature (Schlegelmilch, 2010). While writing a literature review for a specific business discipline, Schlegelmilch's work highlights the continuum of ethical issues in business over a period from the 1960s to 2000s. Other authors also addressed the issues of ethics in business.

Ferrell and Gresham (1985) described the challenge of applying ethics to business when they stated that most people would agree that a set of moral principles or values should govern the actions of business, and most would agree that their decisions should be made in accordance with accepted principles of right and wrong. …

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