Cover image for A better way to think about business : how personal integrity leads to corporate success
A better way to think about business : how personal integrity leads to corporate success
Solomon, Robert C.
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Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xxiv, 145 pages ; 22 cm
Reading Level:
1300 Lexile.
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HF5387 .S612 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Is business ethics a contradiction in terms? Absolutely not, says Robert Solomon. In fact, he maintains that sound ethics is a necessary precondition of any long-term business enterprise, and that excellence in business must exist on the foundation of values that most of us hold dear. Drawing on twenty years of experience consulting with major corporations on ethics, Solomon clarifies the difficult ethical choices all people in business are faced with from time to time. He takes an "Aristotelian" approach to ethical questions, reminding readers that a corporation--like anindividual--is embedded in a community, and that corporate values such as fairness and honesty are meaningless until transformed into action. Values--coupled with action--become virtues, and virtues make possible any good business corporate relationship. Without a base of shared values, trust andmutual benefits, today's national and international business world will fall apart. In keeping with his conviction that virtue and profit must thrive together, Solomon both examines the ways in which deficient values actually destroy businesses, and debunks the pervasive myths that encourageunethical business practices. Complete with a working catalog of virtues designed to illustrate the importance of integrity in any business situation, this compelling handbook contains a goldmine of wisdom for either the small business manager or the corporate executive struggling with ethical issues.

Author Notes

Robert C. Solomon was part of a team that set up an ethics program at a major bank in 1988 in New York that has been widely praised. He has continued to lecture to groups of managers and to consult on matters of ethical choice at the bank since then. He has also developed programs in ethics at other major U.S. and international firms. He combines the training of a philosopher with a deep understanding of the kinds of ethical dilemmas that business managers are frequently faced with and for which they lack clear answers. This book, as well as his other books on ethics in business, stresses his belief that most managers want to make the right ethical choices but they need help in reconciling this with a duty to the bottom line. He is Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Business and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In this brief, readable addition to the business ethics literature, Solomon (philosophy, Univ. of Texas) offers a clear and pragmatic exposition. His thesis is that personal integrity leads to organizational integrity and in the long run will result in individual and business success. In section 1, some common business expressions (e.g., business is a jungle) and thinking (e.g., admiration for Attila the Hun) are challenged. In section 2, he uses brief examples to show why businesses should value more than the bottom line and suggests frameworks for assessing ethical behavior. Section 3 describes and comments on a list of business virtues. The message of this book is not essentially different from others in the field, but it treats a topic of increasing concern in the business community in a very accessible manner. In the current culture, which extols individualism, wealth, and short-term results, it may remain difficult to eradicate unethical practices, but each new effort warrants attention. This concise account is recommended for public, academic, and practitioner library collections. It will be particularly useful to readers with limited time; undergraduate management students; and managers moving up in organizations. F. Reitman; Pace University

Table of Contents

How to Use This Bookp. x
Introduction: Can Virtue Be Taught?p. xiv
Down from the Mountaintopp. xiv
Back to the Mountain: Living Our Valuesp. xvii
Why Virtue Is Necessaryp. xix
An Aristotelian Approach to Businessp. xxiii
I. How Not to Think About Business: Myths and Metaphorsp. 1
Marketing 101p. 1
The Language of Dehumanizationp. 2
Attila the Hun and Other Business Heroesp. 5
"Better Fear Than Love"p. 7
Masters of the Universep. 9
Metaphors of Mayhem, Visions of Civilityp. 11
"It's a Jungle Out There!"p. 13
"Business as a Battlefield"p. 14
"An Efficient Money-Making Machine"p. 16
"The Information Revolution"p. 18
"The Game of Business"p. 19
Competition and Cowboy Capitalismp. 22
The Myth of the Entrepreneurp. 25
Abstract Greedp. 27
The Myth of the Profit Motivep. 29
The Myth of Altruismp. 32
II. A Better Way to Think About Business: The Meaning of Integrityp. 35
The Virtues of Free Enterprisep. 35
The Meaning of Integrityp. 38
Without Integrity: The Hypocrite, the Opportunist, and the Chameleonp. 40
Revisioning the Corporation: The Company as Communityp. 43
The Corporation as Citizenp. 46
The Virtues of a Corporate Culturep. 48
Corporate Codes of Ethics: What Are They For?p. 51
Business as a Professionp. 54
Business, Merit, and Excellencep. 57
The Meaning of Leadershipp. 60
Being and Doing: The Nature of the Virtuesp. 63
III. A Catalog of Business Virtuesp. 69
Abilityp. 71
Acceptancep. 71
Ambitionp. 72
Amiability (Friendliness)p. 73
Articulatenessp. 74
Attentivenessp. 75
Autonomyp. 76
Caringp. 76
Charismap. 78
Compassionp. 78
Competitivenessp. 80
Contentmentp. 80
Cool-Headednessp. 81
Cooperativeness (Teamwork)p. 82
Couragep. 82
Creativity (Imagination)p. 83
Determination (Persistence, "Stick-to-itiveness")p. 84
Entrepreneurshipp. 85
Fairnessp. 85
Generosityp. 87
Graciousnessp. 88
Gratitude (see Humility)p. 89
Heroismp. 89
Honestyp. 90
Honor (Pride)p. 92
Humilityp. 93
Humorp. 94
Independence (the "Outlaw")p. 95
Integrityp. 96
Justicep. 97
Loyaltyp. 99
Passionp. 101
Pride (see Honor)p. 101
Prudencep. 101
Responsibilityp. 102
Saintlinessp. 103
Shame (a "quasi-virtue")p. 104
Spirit (Spirituality)p. 106
Stylep. 107
Tolerancep. 108
Toughnessp. 108
Trustp. 111
Trustworthinessp. 112
Wittinessp. 113
Zeal (Enthusiasm)p. 114
Putting It All Together: Ethical Stylesp. 115
Conclusion: Looking Forward to Integrityp. 121
References and Recommended Readingp. 125
Notesp. 135
Indexp. 143