Term Paper: Ethical Behavior

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[. . .] He notes that the Christian's gift for empathy will illicit guilt when making firing decisions, but that a comprehensive knowledge of the gospel will reveal to any manager that the will of God may often imply that keen practitioners of Christian behavior act in the interests of their business without giving into the demands of all of their employees. In such a matter, it helps for the executive to pray about the subject matter so that he may understand God's will in making a decision. Throughout the book, he points to key biblical references that illustrate his opinions.

Whereas in Burkett's work, the primary responsibility of the manager is to God, Hess feels that the primary responsibility is to the organization. This is one of the key themes of Management: Responsibility for Performance. In developing organizational standards through the use of a mission statement that illustrates the organization's principles and values. Business practices must be predicated on ethical standards, but these ethical standards are seen in a secular context; success is measured in terms of reputation and shareholder value rather than the feeling that one is in accordance with his or her belief system.

In a sense, Hess's work is more intuitive but resonates less with a Christian audience. Management is seen in the context of large organizations, and people are seen as 'team players' with emphasis being placed on effective consensus-based problem solving. Although Machiavellian attitudes that would contradict Christian faith-based teachings are not stressed, we don't see evidence of the reliance on introspection and meditative reflection that is prominent in Burkett's work. Burkett's ideas reflect a participation in business that is merely an aspect of a comprehensive character whose ambitions are manifestly religious and faith-based, whereas Peter Hess believes in loyalty to one's organization, although he points out that this must be done in the context of a greater society.

Certain concepts Hess mentions specifically, such as the idea of a company being one of several stake-holders in a proposed undertaking, stress the role of the community in making business decisions. It is understood that by catering to the interests of a community, a business can build a relationship with the community in which it operates that is based on the mutual understanding of symbiotic elements that underscore the existence of the business. Hess presents us with the concept of entitlement as it pertains to the business environment and how this doesn't always act counter to the interests of a business. Hess gives several examples of how a business sees itself as an integral part of a community and attempts to act co-operatively in a community context through the auspice of town meetings and other methods of community involvement.

This extends to charities and other functions that create a positive image of the business in the minds of the community. It is clear that Hess advocates ethical business practices, but does not give any explanation for these other than that they are generally considered socially appropriate.

Like Burkett, Hess realizes that the efforts of a person in a business organization are ultimately displaced ones; a Christian businessman operates for the sake of God and exhibits necessarily social Christian behavior that reflect Christian teachings, whereas Hess'es ethical businessmen takes organizational and social imperatives into context in an environment were these are almost always seen as complimentary. When addressing unethical business practices, Hess relies on individualist logic to advocate the socially correct behavior of organizational leaders, even if this is at the expense of the organization. Examples given include that of Tobacco Industry executives, who ultimately suffered penalties after committing perjury when they testified before Congress that nicotine didn't cause cancer.

Whereas Hess implies that individual and social interests are in accordance, Burkett points out that certain businesses consistently act unethically and are able to get away with it. He likens this to a personal struggle with vice and a test of the Christian's faith; we see that Burkett assumes that his audience is Christian and that they are faced with temptations to engage in un-Christian behavior that may seem financially or socially amenable. Ultimately, Christianity is more than just a methodology of business conduct as are the conventional ethics of business. It is fortunate that the latter, in principle, attemps to accommodate the former.

Larry Burkett. Business by the Book. Thomas Nelson; 1998.

Peter Hess. Management: Responsibilities… [END OF PREVIEW]

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