Oxford University Press Why do good people do ethically questionable things? Why do reputable businesses ignore the harmful consequences of their actions? These questions continue to challenge philosophers, legal scholars, and corporate leaders. In this pathbreaking book, Patricia Werhane sets forth a model that explains ethical failings in business and shows how to transcend them.
Deleterious corporate actions are often attributed to simple greed, and regulations have traditionally been enacted to counter them. But Werhane argues that most corporate managers are not without moral sensibilities, nor are they motivated primarily by greed or self-interest. Indeed, companies themselves often attempt to improve ethical behavior-most American companies today have values statements, and ethics training is widespread-but applying moral principles to practical decision-making has not been entirely successful.
What is missing, according to Werhane, is a highly developed moral imagination that enables managers and the companies they run to be aware of, evaluate, and change the mental models that often constrict business behavior. The development of moral imagination is not identified merely with increased sensitivity to the existence of ethical issues in business. It includes awareness of the mind-sets that govern managerial and corporate decision-making, the development of reasoning skills to evaluate and moderate these mind-sets, and creativity to ponder viable alternative solutions to what appear to be insoluble economic dilemmas.
Unique in its sophisticated application of ethical reasoning to real day-to-day business problems, this book points the way to the exemplary moral leadership that will enable companies to flourish in the complex global economies of the twenty-first century.