Ethics of Headhunting Structure Business Ethics Corporate Term Paper

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Ethics of Headhunting


Business Ethics

Corporate Social Responsibility

Social responsibility frameworks

Personal recruitment

External recruitment

Executive search

What are the choices facing organizations? What are the consequences?

Inductive and deductive approach

Conduct of research

Pilot test

Findings of the primary research

Further research suggestions

Is Headhunting Ethical? An Evaluation of Ethical Recruitment of Top Executives

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Today, executive recruiting is a healthy profession - profit margins are high, the industry is growing, salaries are climbing and the hours aren't too tough (Fitzwilliam, 1998). The phenomenal growth in the executive search service worldwide (Jenn, 1994; Jones, 1995) has generated strong interests regarding the ethical conduct of search consultants (Nash, 1989). On the one hand, Nash (1989) has argued that executive search service may be an unethical business because it encourages competitors to poach qualified employees from one another. On the other hand, companies that sell their product in public especially have to care about a good reputation to maintain or increase the sales volumes and get a good profit. How can both sides agree with each other? Nevertheless, companies have a demand for qualified persons to fill specific management positions. An external consultancy seems to be the most efficient way to staff these vacant positions. Throughout this recruitment process, various actions demand respect for the people and organizations involved, which are the firm in search of an executive, the candidate and the firm currently employing the candidate. By comparing several persons with their individual needs and their different responsibilities there are always ethical borders that are required to satisfy all demands and to consider all circumstances by recruiting especially top executives for high-donated positions.

Aim of the dissertation

TOPIC: Term Paper on Ethics of Headhunting Structure Business Ethics Corporate Assignment

External personnel recruitment is one important opportunity for companies to fill vacant positions in the upper or decision-making management. For big companies it is often the only way to get new staff with the right skills and the needed experience. Therefore, consultancy companies specialise in only this sector of recruitment, the executive search. These firms aim for high profit margins by finding suitable candidates for the demanding companies. In the process of bringing the two parties in contact, specific ethical attitudes may clash. This dissertation intends to answer especially the following questions:

What is meant by business ethics and values? How is CSR practised -can you provide examples of best practice?

What are the ethical challenges in recruiting? Conflicts between ethics and profits?

What is meant by the code of ethics?

Where does recruiting end and manipulating start? Can headhuntig ever be ethical could there be agreed guidelines?

Would "an ethical organization" prohibit headhunting?

By answering these questions, the dissertation will bring theory and practice together and add to the growing literature on this subject. The goal is whether or not to justify the tenability of an ethical company dealing with headhunters.

Relationship to previous work

The main focus of this dissertation is to identify the range and variety of ethical issues in business and management recruitment that includes defining an ethical oganization by examining ethical recruitment. Some writers (Vardy and Grosch, 1999 and Taylor, 2001) differentiate between the terms ethics and morality to point out the contrast between them. Ethics are focused on doing good. Morality in contrast is a concern for justice, which is about preventing wrongs and making restitution if wrongs are done (Fisher and Lovell, 2006). The questions today are less about why ethics are or why should they be a part of business. They are more about which values and principles should guide business decisions and how ethics should be integrated within business (Hartman and DesJardins, 2008). By answering the key question, the dissertation will especially concentrate on the ethics of companies that use an executive search service to lead their recruitment process.

Therefore, ethics, closely aligned with integrity must be a primary consideration (Cohen, 2001). To find a way to agree with the company's behaviour and the poaching process of the ordered executive search consultancy is exactly the task of the dissertation. The work of an executive search consultancy involves a mutual undertaking of a promissory nature by the client company and the consultant to find a suitable candidate for a certain position (Byrne, 1986). To understand this statement, it is necessary to make exactly clear what the work of a headhunter is. Journal articles are talking about the ethical challenges of consulting (White, 1986) especially for consultancies and the examination of the company's view there is a statement that ethical managers make their own rules (Harvard Business Review, Fall-Winter 1986) or talking about an ethical game (the Economist, February 1988). But in recent years the headhunting industry as well as discussion on business behaviour has become bigger in scale. Generally, companies have both praise and criticism for headhunters (Perkins, 1991). To find out what is meant with praise and criticism, the dissertation will review the literature and the journals and relate them to present opinions about business ethics and third party recruitment.


Methodical background will be desk research and field research. Desk research will focus on examining the literature. Field research will use an interview with executives who are allowed to hire people for their company and know how to act within the scope of their company's corporate behaviour. At this stage the number of people as well as their positions is not completely clear, but hopefully there is time available to consider at least ten persons. I have contacts to German executives at Daimler Buses in Germany, where I wrote my diploma and also to an event management company and a consultancy company in Germany where I worked for in the last two years. In addition, I am confident to get access to British firms and their executives in the IBIS destination and line number display sector by refreshing former business links. I intend to use structured interviews as far as possible, because the aim of this approach is to ensure that each person interviewed is presented with exactly the same questions in the same order. This ensures that answers can be reliably aggregated and comparisons can be made between sample subgroups or different survey periods. The choice of answers to the questions for this kind of research method is often fixed in advance, although open-ended questions can also be included within a structured interview as well. Particularly, the questioning as well as the analysis and the evaluation of the given answers is manageable in this short time. And because a structured interview is a quantitative research, statistical trends can be pointed out and compared with the theoretical approaches.

2. Chapter 2 Literature Review

2.1. Introduction

This review aims to outline background research that the author has composed in order to explore if companies can agree with third party recruitment and their organisation's frame of Corporate Social Responsibility. The author will discuss the theory of corporate social responsibility, executive search and the impact on processes of external consultancies and then proceed to link and synthesize the ideas. Finally the relationship between corporate social responsibility and third party recruitment will be explored.

2.2. Business Ethics

The majority of definitions currently in use tend to characterize ethics as being concerned with moral judgment and standards of conduct (Buckley et al., 2001). In order to better manage moral and ethical dilemmas, many professions have developed behavior and knowledge standards for members. Such guidelines include codes of ethics, licensing requirements, specific missions, specialised intellectual knowledge including literature and research, and organizations that develop and maintain adjudication processes for members who do not follow the expected standards (Kaplan, 2006). The executive recruiting profession is no exception to this rule, and many professional organizations provide such ethical standards for their members. Therefore, the ethical conduct of executive recruiters could be said to relate to how well they conform to the code of conduct of any professional organization in which they maintain membership. One major organization that supports ethical conduct on the part of executive recruiters around the world is the Association of Executive Search Consultants. According to its corporate Web site, "The Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), as a worldwide association of retained executive search consulting firms, strives to enhance the professionalism of its members. Accordingly, AESC has developed the following Professional Practice Guidelines to assist AESC member firms in their business relationships with clients, candidates and the public around the world" (Professional Practice Guidelines, 2008 p. 2).

The AESC's current ethical standards are provided in Table __ below.

Table __.

Association of Executive Search Consultants Professional Practice Guidelines.

Area of Practice

Ethical Guidelines

Relationship between AESC Members and Their Clients

AESC members are partners with their clients in a consultative process aimed at selecting organizational leaders. Success in these partnerships depends upon a strong mutual commitment to the task at hand as well as mutual trust, candor and responsiveness by each party as the search progresses. The AESC recommends that, in order to avoid misunderstandings later, agreements between clients and member firms concerning conduct of the search and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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