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Organizational Ethics in Business

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Organizational Ethics in Business

Organizational ethics is the ethics of an organization, and it is how an organization ethically responds to an internal or external stimulus. Organizational ethics is interdependent with the organizational culture. Although, it is akin to both organizational behavior (OB) and business ethics on the micro and macro levels, organizational ethics is neither OB, nor is it solely business ethics (which includes corporate governance and corporate ethics). Organizational ethics express the values of an organization to its employees and/or other entities irrespective of governmental and/or regulatory laws.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) restricts the United States business firms from engaging in bribery and other illegal practices internationally. There are laws that have the same type of prohibition for European companies. These laws create a disadvantage competitively for both European and U.S. firms. Such laws are not a restricting element to organizations that have highly elevated ethical behavior as part of their values. Organizations that lack ethical practices as a mandatory basis of their business structure and corporate culture, have commonly been found to fail due to the absence of business ethics; Corporate downfalls including, but are not limited to, the recent Enron and WorldCom scandals, are two primary examples of unethical business practices concerning questionable accounting transactions. Organizations focusing on encouraging ethical practices are commonly viewed with respect by employees, the community, and corresponding industries. Ethical business practices of organizations has resulted in a solid financial bottom-line. This has been seen through greater sales and increased revenue by companies retaining talented personnel and attracting newly skilled employees. More importantly, an ethical organization will have the ability to retain employees that are experienced and knowledgeable (generally referred to as human capital). This human capital results in less employee turnover, less training time for new employees, and greater output regarding services (or production of goods).

There are at least four elements that aim to create an ethical culture and behavior of employees within an organization. These elements are:

1) a written code of ethics and standards (ethical code)
2) ethics training for executives, managers, and employees
3) the availability of ethical situational advice (i.e. advice lines or offices)
4) confidential reporting systems

Organizations are constantly striving for a better ethical atmosphere within the business climate and culture. Businesses must create an ethical business climate in order to develop an ethical organization. Otherwise saying, companies must focus on the ethics of employees in order to create an ethical business. Employees must know the difference between what is acceptable and unacceptable in the workplace. These standards are found within the written code of ethics or may be referred to as the employee handbook. These standards are a written form of employee conduct and performance expectations.

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