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“What Is "Business Ethics"?” Peter F. Drucker

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“What is "business ethics"?” Peter F. Drucker

Drucker’s work takes a look at what is business ethics and what is not business ethics as it pertains to some of the major approaches taken by philosophers throughout time.
No matter what the place in time the code of ethics as it pertains to Western tradition is based solely on one principle. That principle is “There is only one code of ethics, that of individual behavior, for prince and pauper, for rich and poor, for the mighty and the meek alike.” Drucker P. F. (1981). Given this principle what is business ethics or even ethics at all with given the implications that behavior which is neither immoral nor illegal for an individual would be immoral or illegal if committed by business? There seems to be a lack of compatibility with what ethics is supposed to be and business ethics. For example a person handing his money over to a mugger threatening physical harm isn’t considered unethical although the mugger is a criminal but in the business world paying off union racketeers to prevent disruption is considered to be unethical practice.
The confusion around ethics in general and business ethics continues when we start looking at other business systems outside of the United States. Take for example the Japanese and German who consider the appointing of a counselor who was previously a distinguished civil servant based on the recommendation of his colleagues is essential to the public interest. However, if this practice were to be demonstrated in the American business system it would be considered questionable if not criminal.
So the question remains “Surely "business ethics" assumes that for some reason the ordinary rules of ethics do not apply to business. “Business ethics," in other words, is not "ethics" at all, as the term has commonly been used by Western philosophers and Western theologians. What is it then?”...

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