Ethical Perspectives Alahmad Friedman vs Drucker Murphy Research Paper

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Contrasting Different Vantage Points Regarding the Role of CSR and Business Ethics

Introduction to Corporate Social Responsibility

Review of the Variety of Ethical Systems

Contemporary Vantage Points

Corporate social responsibilities as well as business ethics have served as hotly contested issues over the last few decades. There has yet to be a consensus reached, to say the least, as to what there composition should look like or even if they are necessary academic pursuits at all. Research was conducted in regards to the various categories of ethical systems in existence and concluded that each system has merit under various sets of circumstances. Furthermore, contemporary individuals who have acted to influence business culture were identified, compared, and contrasted. It was found that there arguments were reasonable based on their assumptions however these assumptions are inherently flawed. The article concludes, that given the growing body of evidence that suggests that life-sustaining ecological systems are in decline, the necessity for discussions about the roles of CSR and business ethics to help mitigate these patterns, will become increasingly salient in the short-term.

Introduction to Corporate Social Responsibility

The manner in which institutions operate is increasingly becoming the target of the attention of individuals, organizations, and societies across the globe. The recent interest in corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been fueled by innumerable examples of unethical behavior that have attracted media attention; especially in the last decade. These incidences have done much to illuminate the significances that follow behaviors void of ethical merit or instances in which ethics were disregarded all together. Not only did these consequences become highly visible, but their effects and extensiveness on the economy as a whole were realized in a manner that has never before been possible. Technology has increased not only the speed, but also the amount of information that is available to the public about organizational operations. Only through the advancements in technology have the inter-connectedness of markets and the fragility of systems achieved such integration and transparency.

The increased access and availability to information has helped to shed light upon the costs of unethical transgressions that were once hidden. The speed at which today's economy moves, the integration of supply chains, the effects of globalization, and the intricacies of markets overlaps have also added to the extent of burden to society as a whole when the responsibility of operating within the realm of sustainable practices are ignored. These costs which have increased in their efficacy, in turn, created a sense of urgency in understanding and, in some cases, persuasively injecting ethics into organizations.

CSR includes corporate philanthropy but its comprehensiveness extends far beyond that single endeavor. While, innovation, creativity, value, and opportunity have been included in the mantras of the corporate world for years, conversations of CSR is just beginning to take hold. Some have argued that CSR doesn't have to be complicated nor does it significantly differ from ethical values that are generally considered to appropriate in society on an individual level such as honesty, humility, respect, and dignity (Alahmad, 2010). Others argue that there need not be a separate classification denoted as business ethics because, in the end, any ethical systems stem from the same origins and the idea of business ethics hold no real relevance (Drucker, 1981). Yet still others argue that organizations have no responsibilities other than maximizing shareholder value; given that they operate "within the rules" and any attempt to impose other considerations represents a form of socialism (Friedman, 1970).

Another perspective in which the dilemma can be viewed from is by the identification of responsibility. At the heart of the issue, responsibility to different people (including one's self), institutions, investors, governments, future generations, and society as a whole can all can demand various requirements and all be in conflict at the same time. One research identified six different types of responsibilities from the literature; these are as follows: legal, corporate, managerial, social, consumer, and societal (Murphy, 2010). Each one of these factors can be more or less salient in any particular circumstance and one component of ethical decision making lies in the priority given to each. This literature review will look at the types of ethical systems, contemporary interpretations and CSR's value to modern organizations.

Review of the Variety of Ethical Systems

Ethical systems, in themselves, are far from being clear or effortlessly comprehensible. There exist three principal approaches that are generally considered to be persistent. The three approaches are Utilitarianism, the Theory of Justice, and the Theory of Rights (Cavanagh, Moberg, & Velasquez, 1981). Furthermore, each of these can be further divided into proactive approaches and reactive (consequential) methods. Furthermore, ethical behavior generally results from the consideration of ethical principles during the decision making process. Otherwise, the resulting behavior is somewhat a circumstance of chance. Therefore ethical decision making can be considered an applied process that can be learned and improved with practice during decision making.

Utilitarianism is the approach that contemplates the greatest net benefit to society in any given scenario. This approach considers how the consequences of one's actions might affect the total population; while the views of what constitutes a population vary. When attempting to apply a utilitarian approach in decision making, one must estimate the benefits and costs of the decision in regards to society. It is this process of estimation that provides the greatest challenge to the individual because such estimations are often problematic to quantify. Yet, in some instance, the mere identification of the social consequences that one's actions may have may be enough to alter behavior.

The Theory of Justice system of ethics is centered on fairness and impartiality. It basically states that every person should encounter the same rules on an equal organization of society. Abuses of such rules should, in turn, require mandatory reimbursement to the victim by a method that equates the compensation to the damage caused. Much of the legal system has origins in the Theory of Justice and procedural fairness is of critical importance within this system. Such ideas are incorporated in legal systems in nearly every society today; though the adherence to these ideas varies significantly.

Another alternative framework is the Theory of Rights system that considers what rights are entitled to an individual. The growth of Human Rights represents an extension of this structure. Human Rights confront the challenges associated with trying determine what rights should be bestowed upon humans; just because they are being humans. Another way to represent this would be by asking what responsibilities does an individual have to members of their own species. One of the most essential and widely accepted human rights is the right to not be physically harmed or the harm principle. Simply stated, your rights stop where my nose starts. Other examples of rights, which are a result of applying this system, are the right to own property, the right of free speech, and the right to assembly.

Reactive approaches toward ethical decision making generally emphasis the compliance of imposed rules and regulations. This approach places a smaller amount value on ethics as a practice but places the value on the circumvention of the negative implications that can follow from violating a law or regulation. However, it should be noted that not all unethical behaviors are illegal and therefore an individual can be functioning within legal restriction and still be performing unethical acts. There have been countless examples of legal but unethical acts by organizations such as the use child labor or the polluting the environment.

Proactive approaches, on the other hand, naturally focus on the value inherent in ethics; that is the value in ethics for the sake of ethics. Rules and regulations do not have the salience that reactive systems tend to focus on. Proactive approaches are generally based in moral reasoning and ethical interpretation of the circumstances. Furthermore, it is possible, depending on the considerations of the individual and the situation to be ethical in intent and yet illegal from the constraints of law. Examples of this that are frequently given include the classic utilitarian example of killing one individual to save a million. The net benefit of such an action may be deemed perfectly ethical yet certainly illegal.

Any one of the three systems may be able to be considered independently of the other two. However, most scholars would agree that no one system is appropriate for all circumstances and situations. Each instance should be weighed against the alternative systems to determine the most ethical course of action in that case. Consideration of all three systems is most ideal but also time consuming, difficult to navigate, and adds layers of complexity. Within such complexities lie the debates that been included in ethics since their philosophical origins.

Contemporary Vantage Points

Milton Friedman and Peter Drucker both were popular management theorist and responsible for the creation of a substantial portion of the business culture. It would be irresponsible to discuss the current state of CSR without at least mentioning the influence these two individuals had…[continue]

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