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  1. Preface
  2. 1 Why Ethics Matter
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 Being a Professional of Integrity
    3. 1.2 Ethics and Profitability
    4. 1.3 Multiple versus Single Ethical Standards
    5. Summary
    6. Key Terms
    7. Assessment Questions
    8. End Notes
  3. 2 Ethics from Antiquity to the Present
    1. Introduction
    2. 2.1 The Concept of Ethical Business in Ancient Athens
    3. 2.2 Ethical Advice for Nobles and Civil Servants in Ancient China
    4. 2.3 Comparing the Virtue Ethics of East and West
    5. 2.4 Utilitarianism: The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number
    6. 2.5 Deontology: Ethics as Duty
    7. 2.6 A Theory of Justice
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. Assessment Questions
    11. End Notes
  4. 3 Defining and Prioritizing Stakeholders
    1. Introduction
    2. 3.1 Adopting a Stakeholder Orientation
    3. 3.2 Weighing Stakeholder Claims
    4. 3.3 Ethical Decision-Making and Prioritizing Stakeholders
    5. 3.4 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. Assessment Questions
    9. End Notes
  5. 4 Three Special Stakeholders: Society, the Environment, and Government
    1. Introduction
    2. 4.1 Corporate Law and Corporate Responsibility
    3. 4.2 Sustainability: Business and the Environment
    4. 4.3 Government and the Private Sector
    5. Summary
    6. Key Terms
    7. Assessment Questions
    8. End Notes
  6. 5 The Impact of Culture and Time on Business Ethics
    1. Introduction
    2. 5.1 The Relationship between Business Ethics and Culture
    3. 5.2 Business Ethics over Time
    4. 5.3 The Influence of Geography and Religion
    5. 5.4 Are the Values Central to Business Ethics Universal?
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. Assessment Questions
    9. End Notes
  7. 6 What Employers Owe Employees
    1. Introduction
    2. 6.1 The Workplace Environment and Working Conditions
    3. 6.2 What Constitutes a Fair Wage?
    4. 6.3 An Organized Workforce
    5. 6.4 Privacy in the Workplace
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. Assessment Questions
    9. End Notes
  8. 7 What Employees Owe Employers
    1. Introduction
    2. 7.1 Loyalty to the Company
    3. 7.2 Loyalty to the Brand and to Customers
    4. 7.3 Contributing to a Positive Work Atmosphere
    5. 7.4 Financial Integrity
    6. 7.5 Criticism of the Company and Whistleblowing
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. Assessment Questions
    10. End Notes
  9. 8 Recognizing and Respecting the Rights of All
    1. Introduction
    2. 8.1 Diversity and Inclusion in the Workforce
    3. 8.2 Accommodating Different Abilities and Faiths
    4. 8.3 Sexual Identification and Orientation
    5. 8.4 Income Inequalities
    6. 8.5 Animal Rights and the Implications for Business
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. Assessment Questions
    10. End Notes
  10. 9 Professions under the Microscope
    1. Introduction
    2. 9.1 Entrepreneurship and Start-Up Culture
    3. 9.2 The Influence of Advertising
    4. 9.3 The Insurance Industry
    5. 9.4 Ethical Issues in the Provision of Health Care
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. Assessment Questions
    9. End Notes
  11. 10 Changing Work Environments and Future Trends
    1. Introduction
    2. 10.1 More Telecommuting or Less?
    3. 10.2 Workplace Campuses
    4. 10.3 Alternatives to Traditional Patterns of Work
    5. 10.4 Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and the Workplace of the Future
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. Assessment Questions
    9. End Notes
  12. 11 Epilogue: Why Ethics Still Matter
    1. Introduction
    2. 11.1 Business Ethics in an Evolving Environment
    3. 11.2 Committing to an Ethical View
    4. 11.3 Becoming an Ethical Professional
    5. 11.4 Making a Difference in the Business World
    6. End Notes
  13. A | The Lives of Ethical Philosophers
  14. B | Profiles in Business Ethics: Contemporary Thought Leaders
  15. C | A Succinct Theory of Business Ethics
  16. Answer Key
    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8
    9. Chapter 9
    10. Chapter 10
    11. Chapter 11
  17. Index

Welcome to Business Ethics, an OpenStax resource. This textbook was written to increase student access to high-quality learning materials, maintaining highest standards of academic rigor at little to no cost.

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About Business Ethics

Business Ethics is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of the single-semester standardized business ethics course across all majors. This title includes innovative features designed to enhance student learning, including case studies, application scenarios, and links to video interviews with executives, all of which help instill in students a sense of ethical awareness and responsibility. The book provides an important opportunity for students to learn the core concepts of business ethics and understand how to apply those concepts to their professional lives.

Coverage and scope

Our Business Ethics textbook adheres to the scope and sequence requirements of introductory business ethics courses nationwide. We have endeavored to make the core theories and practical concepts of business ethics engaging, relevant, and accessible to students. The guiding themes of the textbook are to promote high ethical standards and to assist the integration of ethical thinking across the business school curriculum, with an end result of encouraging even greater ethical consciousness on the part of business practitioners beyond their graduation. We particularly emphasize the reality of today’s global business community and observe that geography, culture, and time contribute to ethical concepts and constructs. With awareness of these issues in mind, the content of this textbook has been developed and arranged to emphasize the necessity—and difficulty—of ethical decision-making. The authors seek to help students recognize legal and moral issues, reason through the consequences of different courses of action, and promote social responsibility. The text emphasizes connections between topics such as ethical theories, legal responsibilities, the prioritization of stakeholders, and corporate social responsibility. The organization and pedagogical features were developed and vetted with feedback from business ethics instructors dedicated to the project.

Engaging feature boxes

Throughout Business Ethics, you will find features that engage students by taking selected topics a step further. Each feature box contains either a link to a deeper exploration of the topic at hand or critical thinking questions that may be geared toward class discussion, student projects, or written essays. Our features include:

  • Cases from the Real World. This feature presents brief examples of real companies making ethical decisions in the midst of hectic competition. Each example includes follow-up critical thinking questions that encourage reflection on the case and how it relates to chapter concepts and themes.
  • What Would You Do? This feature presents brief, fact-based scenarios in which students are challenged to put themselves into the shoes of ranking executives and balance a host of interests—some conflicting—as they make decisions for their businesses. Students provide an answer to a practical problem or ethical issue, as well as their reasoning.
  • Ethics across Time and Cultures. This feature considers how geography, culture, and time influence the ethical values we have. Follow-up critical thinking questions allow for broader reflection on the chapter topics and encourage deeper integration of the chapter content.
  • Link to Learning. This feature provides a very brief introduction to online resources and videos that are pertinent to students’ exploration of the topic at hand. Link to Learning boxes allow students to connect easily to some of the most important thought leaders and concepts in the field of business ethics. The purpose is to highlight the complexities of ethical decision-making.

Module materials that reinforce key concepts

  • Learning Objectives. Every module begins with a set of clear and concise learning objectives. These objectives are designed to help the instructor decide what content to include or assign, and to guide students on what they can expect to learn. After completing the module and end-of-module exercises, students should be able to demonstrate mastery of the learning objectives.
  • Summaries. Section summaries distill the information in each module for both students and instructors down to key, concise points addressed in the section.
  • Key Terms. Key terms are bold and are followed by a definition in context. Definitions of key terms are also listed in the glossary, which appears at the end of the chapter.
  • Assessments. Multiple-choice and short-answer review questions provide opportunities to recall and test the information students learn throughout each module.

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About the authors

Senior contributing authors

Stephen M. Byars, USC Marshall School of Business

Stephen Byars received his BA from Claremont McKenna College, his MA from the University of San Diego, and his PhD from the University of Southern California. He teaches business ethics and oral and written communication at the Marshall School of Business at USC to both graduate and undergraduate business majors. He has served as associate director of the USC Writing Program, temporary director of the Writing Center within the Writing Program, and as director of the USC Marshall Consulting Program. His scholarly interests include business and professional ethics, the constructive mediation of disputes in the workplace, and those best practices that permit leaders to direct business in ways that engender community, social, and corporate good.

Kurt Stanberry, University of Houston–Downtown

Kurt Stanberry is a professor of legal studies in the College of Business at the University of Houston Downtown and has held the PLM Endowed Professorship since 2011. He is also a licensed attorney. He received his BA from Yale University, an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Temple University, and a JD from the University of Houston College of Law.

Kurt teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate level in business law, contracts, employment law, negotiations, ethics, and other related topics. He also conducts continuing education seminars in topics such as negotiations, leadership, diversity, and ethics for CPAs, CFPs, attorneys, and business executives, through organizations such as the AICPA, FEI, and TSCPA at the state and national levels. He has published numerous articles in scholarly journals, two textbooks, various practice manuals, and cases. Prior to joining the faculty at UHD, Kurt was a professor in the California State University System and was also a visiting professor in international programs in London, Bonn, Tokyo, and Seoul. He has been teaching and practicing law for over 30 years.

Contributing authors

Barbara Boerner, Brevard College

Robert Brancatelli, Fordham University

Wade Chumney, California State University, Northridge

Laura Dendinger, Wayne State College

Bill Nantz, Houston Community College

Mark Poepsel, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

David Shapiro, Pennsylvania State University

Reviewers

Justin Bateh, Florida State College at Jacksonville

Ronald Berenbeim, New York University

Kenneth Bigel, Touro College

Cindy Briggs, Salt Lake Community College

Barbara Chappell, Walden University

Maureen Chisholm, Quincy College

Valerie Collins, Sheridan College

Dixon Cooper, Ouachita Baptist University

Anastasia Cortes, Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Sarah Esveldt, Carroll University

Rand Fandrich, New England College of Business

Charles Fenner, State University of New York Canton

Mehran Ferdowsian, Wilkes University

Betty Fitte, Tidewater Community College

Robert Freeborough, Berkeley College

Martha Helland, University of Sioux Falls

Amy Jordan, Loyola University Chicago

Stephanie Jue, University of Texas

Cheryl Keymer, North Arkansas College

Nai Lamb, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Jolene A. Lampton, Park University–Austin Campus

Barbara Limbach, Chadron State College

Marilyn Marousek, Barry University

Russ Meade, Husson University

Michael Pakaluk, Catholic University

Tatyana Pashnyak, Bainbridge State College

Roslyn Roberts, California State University, Sacramento

Amber Ruszkowski, Ivy Tech Community College

Richard Savior, State University of New York Empire State College

Lon Schiffbauer, Salt Lake Community College

Nathan Smith, Houston Community College

Anne Snell, Tulane University

Chris Suprenant, University of New Orleans

Glen Taylor, Paradise Valley Community College

Sonia Toson, Kennesaw State University

Joel Webb, Loyola University New Orleans

Andy Wible, Muskegon Community College

Jeffrey Yoder, Fairfield University

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