How should one live?” (Megone & Robinson quoting Allen, 2002: 23). As corporate management practice is primarily normative many of the examinations of how an organisation should act toward Third World Countries prompts the question how it should and can do better in ethical terms.
In academia descriptive approaches to analyze and compare practices are taken as a means of judging how best those practices can be customized or altered to better suit the organization’s quest for more ethical ways of doing business. The extent of business ethical issues, how many we can come up with, in any given assessment largely reflects the degree to which the business may be at odds with social values. These values may or may not have anything to do with the economics of the situation. “...much of what masquerades as business ethics is nothing of the sort, having little to do with either business or with ethics” (Megone & Robinson quoting Sternberg, 2002: 25). Academic approaches to business ethics often get caught up in this distorted “reality,” using a directive approach that only appears to reflect what is actually going on in the organization and the environment in which it operates.
Interest in business ethics came to the forefront during the 1980s and 1990s both within major corporations and within academia. “The involvement of multinational companies in the elaboration of a new Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda during the 1990s imbued investment considerations with a more political profile. A plethora of initiatives expressed the increased salience of the private sector to debates over the respect for basic rights in the developing world” (Youngs, 2004: 85).
More than a few corporate web sites place a good deal of emphasis on commitment to promoting non-economic social values as part of their business ethics program. They publish ethics codes as seen on