To begin with, in his book A Better Way to Think about Business Ethics: How Personal Integrity Leads to Corporate Success, Robert C. Solomon presents an argument for a better way to think about business. In this connection, the argument is that business should not be based on the notions that have existed in the past which portray business as an enterprise that pursues money only but rather a place whereby business is operated on a moral ground. In line with this, Solomon points out that excellence in business depend on integrity, values and virtues” as much as profits. Arguably, Solomon states that a better way to think about business is to employ ethics or rather integrity. As such, integrity is the value that is mostly neglected; however, it is foundational in making a business to succeed.
In particular, sound ethics is a necessity in any long term business enterprise. The author again points out that in order to attain prosperity in a business; it is prerequisite to take into consideration the values that most hold us. Basically, Solomon employs the Aristotelian approach to bring out the fact just as a community operates; business should be operated in the basis of fairness and honesty. In this context, Aristotelian approach states that business should be conceived as an essential part of a good life. Needless to say, a good life is described by one being able to get along with others.
Accordingly, he or she should be in a position to get along with others, have some sense of self-respect, and in the larger perspective being part of something should make someone proud. Equally important is the fact that Aristotle on whose approach the author basis his arguments, insisted on virtues as the basic components of an individual and collective happiness. As such, these virtues should be transformed into actions in the context of cooperation. Thus, they will eventually shape, nurture and encourage each member of the corporation. Along with this, Solomon argues that values when mixed with action they translate to virtues. It is therefore on the basis of these virtues that a good business corporate relationship is build. More to this, a business should provide a morally rewarding environment in the sense that one can realize a development in not only the professional skills but equally on the virtue he or she has.
Outstandingly, in the today’s world according to the author, businesses will fall apart if they are not based on shared values, trust and communal benefits. Generally, employing ethics and more specifically integrity in a business, it is a good tool to allow for success in a business. Just as the title suggests, a better way to think about business ethics employs personal integrity in order that success may be realized. Business in actuality, it is not an amoral activity as it is often thought. However, ethics is not only a possible thing in the context of a business but rather a requirement. In this sense, business ethics is making it possible to have a business which is both free and moral. At the same time, it is important to note that business ethics is not a contradiction as it is often thought. However, it is a precondition without which a business cannot flourish. In regard to the authors’ argument, a better way to think about business and achieve success is based on the ethics as a precondition and in particular values, virtues and integrity altogether.
Apart from this, the author has managed to present some arguments for “how not to think about business”. In this regard, he has addressed several myths and metaphors in the context of the topic at hand. In reference to “how not to think about business”, the author asserts that the aspect of self is revealed through the metaphors chosen (Solomon 1). In fact, he states that every discipline has its own self- lionizing vocabulary. This is to bring out the meaning that the justification of self, how one sells his or her profession and equally think of his or her self, is what constitutes a metaphor or rather ways that business defines itself. In line with this, in business rather, there is no word of glory. One metaphor that is commonly used in business is the aspect of merely making money. This ought not to be the foundation of business since it only makes businesses to ignore the role played by ethics. It is on the basis of this assumption if it may be said that the author states that this should not be the way that business should describe itself.
Along with this, there is the metaphor that business is a battlefield whereby it is defined by winners and losers. In relation to this point, businesses are done with the sole aim of winning. In reality, it is not seen as a field whereby one can work happily. This ought not to be the case. Accordingly, there is another metaphor that business is a jungle of wars; it is actually a result of Darwinism that business is only a survival for the fittest (Solomon 4). This again, distorts the main aim of engaging in business and thus it becomes a blood thirsty venture that leaves some in pain. This again should not be the way business should be viewed.
Again in this context, there is another metaphor in the context of business which describes business as efficient money making machine (Solomon 16). This is to suggest that people only engage in business for making money only and as a result it only leads to little if any application of ethics that shape the working environment for success. As well, the metaphor states that business is a game. This came into view in the 1960s when life in itself was seen as a game. Game theory has so much been endorsed in the context of pointing out ones opponent and then delibate the competition by winning at the opponent’s expense. This forms the heart of business today as business is profit oriented without necessarily incorporating ethics in it.
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At the same time, there is the computer metaphor whereby the special abilities of human beings to forge projects and purposes , to work together to establish ways of working together to optimise everyone’s individual skills and talents, to enjoy and be motivated by what others are doing- get lost in the fascination with mere information processing(Solomon 19). Following this point, business should not be thought out to be like this way since it may translate to business loss rather than success altogether.
On the other hand, there are myths on which a business should not be built on and as such they involve the profit motive myth among others. In line with this, the myth is aimed at making profits as the only driving force to engage in business. Therefore in this context, ethics do not really matter as it is argued that this myth avoids the generalizations that describe human nature (Solomon 30). Similarly, the myth of entrepreneur ought not to be involved in the thoughts about business. Particularly, the myth is meant to portray the business as a tycoon who owns so much. Therefore, such a thought only makes the business to be done with the sole aim of becoming a tycoon by taking advantage of others. This means that the entire business functioning is for profit. In addition, there is the myth of abstract creed. This kind of myth represents a false representation of what drives people to business (Solomon 29). Besides this point, it is the myth of altruism which happens to be an insidious trap in business ethics since it is the forced polarity between what one ought to do and what is ones self interest. In actual sense, it calls for a selfless sacrifice for the sake of others.
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In chapter two of this book, the author points out to several themes that provide a foundation for an approach to business based on an ethical perspective of personal and corporate integrity and virtue. In this regard, business free enterprise is the kind that gives room for individuals to celebrate different talents and tastes among others. As a matter of fact, business life entails matters of civility, integrity and cultivation of virtues (Solomon 37). Based on the aspects of virtue, values and integrity, businesses should be founded.
In this context, the integrity or the uprightness of a person and the business as whole should seek to address the issues of hypocrisy, opportunism and the aspect of behaving like a chameleon often found in businesses today. This is because in the absence of integrity, business will be an avenue of corruption and a service of self interests. Another theme through which the author has laid the foundation for an approach to business based on ethical perspective of personal and corporate integrity and virtue, is the revisioning the corporation as a community rather than an individual venture. Additionally, it would be a better way to think of a business corporation as a citizen and then build the virtues of a corporate culture.
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In the same way, approaching business from an ethical perspective means that the duty served by the corporative codes of ethics is defined making it possible to endorse virtues and integrity in the day to day running of the business. Another theme through which the author has built an ethical approach to business is the fact that business should be thought out as a profession (Solomon 54). In the same line of thought, business should be viewed as well as treated with merit and excellence. Along with this point, the theme of being and doing which is possessed by virtues has been used to lay the foundation for an ethical approach or perspective to personal and corporate integrity and virtue.
As a matter of fact, virtues are those qualities that define a person and in this case if integrated in the larger community, they bring about mutual benefit as well as benefits to all individuals in the corporation. Success cannot only be realized by a mere recognition or rather mention of the associated virtues but rather being virtuous only materializes when it has been acted out. Therefore, people should learn to possess virtues that make it possible for individuals to learn to respect each other. In this sense, the good executives and managers know the power of integrity and having the right values at work since they help in the success of the corporation. In this context, being virtuous is by its nature the aspect of both acting and doing the virtue (Solomon 33). At the same time, the aspect of being honesty is in other words acting one own best interests. From another point of view, having integrity in the face of business portrays the picture that a superior person is the one who thinks of what is right while an inferior person is the one who thinks of what is profitable. Therefore, selling ones integrity is interwoven in the justification of capitalism.
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Following the themes or ideas that have been tackled in chapter two, one can use them to endorse the business life which is civil. To begin with, virtues of free enterprise are meant to build the capability as well as skills of each and every member of the corporation. By merely being virtuous, one will seek to do what is right and in this context no one who will be hurt while working in a corporation since each and every one will serve while seeking to do that which is right. Secondly, the theme of reliability being employed in the corporation is meant to bring about the aspect of working in truthfulness.
Along with this, the author has raised the theme of a company which is the corporation working as a community in the sense that each and everyone cares of the welfare of each other as well as their joy while working. If the corporation is going to be treated as a citizen it means that not harassment and doing what is right for each member will lead to building the corporation to a point of living as a community. Another point to note is the fact that corporate codes of ethics of which they are the set rules that guide the corporate to act on the basis of ethics ought to be followed. The reason why they have been set is to ensure that the corporation acts and carries it activities on the basis of ethics or based on integrity. This is to suggest that such a corporate will do its business on the basis of what is right rather than what is profitable.
Apart from this theme, the theme of taking business as a profession rather than a profit making avenue will make it possible for it to be carried out with integrity. As a result, the business will become a community in the sense that skills of each member will be tasted, developed and in the larger perspective made to be productive for the common good of all in the corporate. Furthermore the being and doing of the virtues one possesses as a person will greatly contribute to a business life that is civil and is “a part of human life and human community” (Solomon 37). This is given to the reason that virtues should not only be possessed but rather should be acted out. Once this is achieved, a community that is committed to doing that which is right will be realized in the context of business ethics thus leading to success. In fact, it will translate to business as a part of human life and human community since people will work based on what is right rather than profitability.
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Three virtues that are the most central to business ethics involve honesty, trustworthiness and fairness. In line with this, honesty is the aspect of telling it the way it is, telling the truth about the business and the way it functions. This can as well be termed as integrity in itself as it describes the way one should be in a position to act out what is good. This means telling one what to gain in exact points and what to lose. On the other hand, there is the virtue of fairness which has more to do with giving to each person one is dealing with his or her due without being corrupt. As well, trustworthiness is the aspect of one being in a position to be worthy of trust and to be the sort of a person that one can trust. This virtue will propel each and everyone in business to do good as well as treat everyone with care and respect (Solomon 70).
Above and beyond, business ethics is based on virtues of which they are possessed by businesspeople who should act them out. As such, integrity being a virtue is not as it appears but rather an embodiment of many virtues that shape a personality. In this framework, personal integrity which is a quintessence of virtues has the potential to make a corporate successful. Generally, personal integrity is a foundation towards realizing corporate success.