Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

What is (and Isn’t) the Matter with “What’s the Matter…”

  • Joseph H. Monast

Abstract:

In mid-1993 a provocative piece on business ethics appeared on the pages of the Harvard Business Review. Andrew Stark’s “What’s the Matter with Business Ethics?” (1993a) found plenty wrong with business ethics, arguing that the product served up to managers and potential managers by traditional ethicists in their articles and classrooms is without practical value. Since it is supposed to be “applied” ethics, he finds something seriously amiss with a business ethics that offers nothing to help a manager resolve moral dilemmas in business. While some “new” ethicists are now beginning to appear, ethicists who are willing to get their hands dirty and acknowledge the legitimacy of normal business practices, the traditional ethicists continue to dominate the field and continue to offer a product unable to satisfy the manager’s needs. According to Stark, “[Business ethicists] have been too preoccupied with absolutist notions of what it means for managers to be ethical, with overly general criticisms of capitalism as an economic system, with dense and abstract theorizing, and with prescriptions that apply only remotely to managerial practice” (1993a, p.38). Or, as he puts it in a more detailed discussion, traditional business ethics fails because it is a deadly combination of “too general,” “too theoretical,” and, worst of all, “too impractical” (1993a, p.44). In short, the “old” approach is idealistic and academic, irrelevant to the rough-and-tumble of real business.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Bowie, Norman E. (1994) “Enough Already.” The Society for Business Ethics Newsletter, 4, 4, pp. 34.
Duska, Ronald. (1993) “Letter to the Editor.” Harvard Business Review, 71, 6, pp. 188196. Also printed in The Society for Business Ethics Newsletter, 4, 3, pp. 911.
Jackall, Robert. (1988) Moral Mazes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kant, Immanuel, trans. Lewis, White Beck. (1959) Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
Nash, Laura L. (1993) Good Intentions Aside. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Solomon, Robert C. (1992) Ethics and Excellence. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Stark, Andrew. (1993a) “What’s the Matter with Business Ethics?” Harvard Business Review, 71, 3, pp. 3848.
Stark, Andrew. (1993b) “Response to a Rejoinder [by Ronald Duska].” The Society for Business Ethics Newsletter, 4, 3, pp. 1215.
Stark, Andrew. (1993c) “Response [to letters from R. Duska and P. Werhane].” Harvard Business Review, 71, 6, pp. 198203.
Werhane, Patricia. (1993) “Letter to the Editor.” Harvard Business Review, 71, 6, p. 202. Also printed in The Society for Business Ethics Newsletter, 4, 3, p.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed