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Business Law and the Legal Environment for a New Century
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Quotes of the Day
“The one and only social responsibility of
business is to increase its profits.”
Milton Friedman (b. 1912),
Nobel laureate in economics
“The business of business is serving
society, not just making money.”
Dayton Hudson corporate constitution
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Business Law and the Legal Environment for a New Century
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Ethics
Ethics is the study of how
people ought to act.
Law and ethics may not always agree...
Sometimes it is ethical to commit
an illegal act...
And some legal acts are unethical!
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Business Law and the Legal Environment for a New Century
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Why Bother With Ethics?
There is little evidence that ethical behavior
increases profits or that unethical behavior
decreases profits… so why bother?

Society as a whole benefits by encouraging
economic competition; no one wants to
compete with unfair competitors.

People feel better when they behave
ethically.

Unethical behavior can be costly, if there is
public outrage leading to a boycott.
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Business Law and the Legal Environment for a New Century
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Questions to Ensure Ethical Behavior
 What are the facts?
 What are the critical issues?
 Who are the stakeholders?
 What are the alternatives?
 What are the implications of each choice?
• Are the alternatives legal?
• Do they “look bad?”
• What are the consequences of this choice?
• Does this action violate important values?
 Is more than one alternative right?
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Business Law and the Legal Environment for a New Century
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Responsibility in Advertising
Businesses must take a stand on sexual
and racial exploitation in advertising.
 Alternatives in advertisement ethics
• Ignore ethics and try to create ads that sell the
most product, no matter the underlying
message.
• Try generally to minimize exploitation.
• Include a systematic, focused review of
underlying messages as part of the
development process.
• Refuse to create any ads that are even
potentially offensive.
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Business Law and the Legal Environment for a New Century
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Other Responsibilities
 To customers
• Privacy issues are controversial -- can a
business sell lists that include your address?
Your phone number? Your sexual preference?
 To employees
• Employers must take reasonable measures to
ensure the safety of workers.
• Decisions about firing workers or cutting jobs
raise ethical questions.
 To shareholders
• Questions are often raised about uses of a
company’s profits -- distributed to shareholders,
raising executives’ salaries, improving business?
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Business Law and the Legal Environment for a New Century
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Other Responsibilities (cont’d)
 To -- and in -- foreign countries
• Companies with operations in foreign countries are
often criticized for deplorable working conditions
and low wages.
• Response to these criticisms is often that even lowwage jobs are better than destitution and that these
jobs are the beginnings of economic growth.
 Employees’ responsibility to company
• Should employees report unethical behavior among
co-workers? Should promotion decisions be made
based on friendships?
• These questions show the difficult choices that
have to be made every day in the work place.
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Business Law and the Legal Environment for a New Century
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The Best Insurance
Even employees who are ethical in their
personal lives may find it difficult to
uphold their standard at work if those
around them behave differently.
The surest way to infuse ethics
throughout an organization is for top
executives to behave ethically
themselves.
Click here to view an online discussion of ethical issues.
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Business Law and the Legal Environment for a New Century
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“Ethical behavior offers significant
advantages: society as a whole
benefits; executives who behave
ethically have happier, more
fulfilled lives; and unethical
behavior can destroy a company.”
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Business Law and the Legal Environment for a New Century
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Link to the Internet
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you the website for this book. (You must first
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related to that chapter.
Click Here!
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Business Law and the Legal Environment for a New Century
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