The term "business ethics" has contexts in different ways making the history of business ethics vary according to how one perceives the subject. The history is likely to vary on the historians. How they also perceive the term, what facts they seek to find as first hand information, and the importance the historians see on those facts. This subject solely depends on the historian, but at the end of it all, the facts should prompt some discussion, and someone else grasps it giving a different story on the same.
The term business ethics has at least three different usages, although all the three have an evident similarity. The way that one chooses to prioritize gives meaning to the nature of history on the subject. The first source of the term dates back to 1970, when the term originally used in the United States. Its origin here associated the term with academic writing, meetings, and in development of an academic field of teaching research, and publication. Later on, the term got more usage in the media and public discourse. In these two places, it got association with business scandals what they called "ethics in business."
The association with business scandals broadened the sense of history of business ethics, and it makes the history of business relevant in this subject. This means commercial exchanges, which later developed into economic systems. Lastly, business ethics corresponds to a movement within the business field, or the movement to build illegal ethics into structures of corporations in forms of ethic codes, ethic committees, and ethic training. Today, the term has widely spread globally making its meaning and history vary (George, 2012).
The ethics sense of business ethics
In this view, ethics in business means the application of everyday moral or ethical beliefs to business. From a philosophical approach, Kant discuses the need of fairness in the republic and Aristotle discusses economic relations, commerce and trade. The idea of business ethics continues to date. It focuses on the moral and ethical actions of individuals. In discussing this subject, immoral or unethical examples immediately come up. Included in this subject is the criticism of corporations that use child labor, pay their employees poorly or those who utilize suppliers running very low business.
Marx claims that capitalism has a basis on exploitation of labor. This is a moral condemnation because "exploitation" is associated with morals in an immoral way. He based his analysis of ethics in business on the labor theory of value. According to this theory, all economic value comes from the human workforce. Again, Marx argues that the only commodity not sold at its real value is human labor. He says that human labor receives very low compared to what it produces. In its place, socialism would be adopted which would later develop to communism. At the end, the society would be free of exploitation.
Many businesspersons strongly apply religious beliefs and ethical norms in their business activities. Aaron Feuerstein is a good example. When his Mill Factory caught fire and almost destroyed, he still paid his employees. He kept them on the payroll until the factory was back in business. Business ethics is very prominent in ordinary persons whenever there is a discussion about the subject. Bad ethics is a representation of the need of ethics in business or corporations. Business people should incorporate good ethics in their activities; treat their workforce in acceptable ways (George, 2012).
Business ethics as an academic field
In another perspective, business ethics is looked at an academic field. After the Second World War, the United States was becoming a dominant economic force globally. American corporations were growing, and big businesses replaced small business. Later on, corporations found themselves under attack by the public, this lead to the development of social programs, which captured corporation's activities beneficial to the society, and usually, not all were beneficial, the companies with activities that were not good for the society was charged with unethical behavior. Business schools responded by developing of social issues in management courses which is thriving today.
Business ethics, as an academic field commenced in 1970s, and before this time, there were courses called by name dealing with ethics and business. Most parts of the ethical education incorporated in social courses. Researchers continued writing and teaching on business ethics. Management professors did research on corporate social responsibility. Business ethics later developed after philosophers made their contribution to the subject. They developed ethical theories and philosophical analysis on various business issues. Henceforth, business ethics emerged because of intersecting ethical theory and case issues analysis.
Business ethics is now firmly entrenched. The need for ethics in business continues. As an academic field, it contributes to discussion forums, research, and teaching that instill knowledge to both ethics and business ethics movement. From this academic view, it is evident that a lot has been accomplished. Historians deal with the past accounts not the future. Looking into the future, there is still a lot to do. Business ethics is a vibrant, complicated enterprise in a gradual development, which is both fascinating and dynamic (George, 2012).
Inclusion of ethics, as an integral part of the environment, raises the subject of environmental ethics. The environmental ethics considers the living organisms, living things, or plants and animals that live in the environment, apart from human beings. In order to protect these organisms, living things from extinction in the environment, some come up with rules that forbid some human action against degrading the environment. Environmental ethics, questions the human race about certain key factors associated with the environment in relation to business (Borkar, 2010).
The environment is one factor that affects business. There exist various environmental issues relating to business ethics. According to Shaw (1998), there are moral environmental issues relating to business ethics. These issues include ecology, traditional business attitudes towards the environment, problems involving environmental abuse, and many others. Environmental ethics considers the ethical issues between the natural environment and the people, the kind of decisions people make about the environment. For example, people can pollute the environment by disposing waste anywhere.
The decisions people make, subsequently have consequences that are why environmental change happens. The need to observe environmental ethics comes in when the environment shows effects or affects the human life, affecting business. Environmental ethics tries to answer questions on how humans relate to their environment, how to use the earth's resources without harming the environment, and how we should treat the rest of species, plants, and animals (Shaw, 1998).
Historical Profile of Lebanon
The heritage of Lebanon is as old as the earliest evidence of humankind. The geographic of the country is strategically, linking the Mediterranean with the Asian hinterland. The linking characteristic has given the country a cosmopolitan legacy. The country's occupants are Arabs, but westernization is very high. In different times of history, Lebanon has seen different rulers including Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and Ottomans. Lebanese always rebelled against repressive rulers. The mountainous terrains in the country have isolated Lebanon giving the country some protection enabling it to survive though often conquered.
Lebanon's proximity to the water bodies, especially the sea has given the country an important position as a major trading centre. The tradition of business begun with the Phoenicians and was passed through generations, remaining stable through foreign rule, and worst experiences in their internal struggles. Lebanon has undergone major civilizations evident in the different cities. The earliest businesses date back to the 1750s chartered in 1818. Lebanon enjoyed prospered growth in the 19th century, moving from agrarian roots to a unique number of enterprises. These served the local community and growing markets in the United States.
The Shaker sect was between the two earliest successes in the country. The headquarters of Shaker was in Mount Lebanon, and a popular resort in the Lebanon springs. The Shakers built their community to almost 600 citizens. It also founded communities around the nation. The community shared skills in architecture, furniture design, and household crafts. They produced enough items to sell to the outside world. Homes and businesses in the valley were constructed using posts and beams.
Business ethics in Lebanon/Middle East
Corporations have become more aware of the need to incorporate issues on business ethics, corporate social responsibility, and sustainable development in their running of their businesses. Unethical practices threaten the goal towards prosperity. Managerial behaviors, which do not auger well with the workforce, only pose as an obstacle to business growth. The level of ethics in a corporation needs scrutiny, especially in the Middle East countries, for example, Lebanon. Lebanese workers, through a research displayed mixed responses concerning the level of ethics in their respective working places.
From the responses, it is evident that some corporations may welcome bottom line indicators over transparence issues, and many other issues concerning ethics. For such corporations, there is a need for immediate intervention strategies to curb unethical situations, and welcome growth, development across Lebanon.…