The Ethics and Morality of Business

First Published: 2006-12-08

During 40 years of working and traveling in the international business community I have encountered a wide variety of ethical standards and values; and it has been challenging to understand, reconcile and deal with the many different concepts of ethical behavior. As a practicing international businessman it was important to understand the correct ethical standards necessary to guide my actions while living and working in a global environment; and more importantly, to understand why they are correct.

Ethics is the study of moral standards and values used to guide our choices and conduct. A "value" is that which we strive to gain or keep, and a "virtue" describes the action we take to gain or keep it. My ultimate value and goal is Life at its highest level of actualization-although some believe death and martyrdom represent a higher level of exaltation. I diagnose the aspiration for death and martyrdom to be an illness caused by the epidemic of mysticism throughout the world.

Our choices of ethics and values determine the degree to which we can achieve the ultimate goal-life at a high level of actualization. And the correct choices are not automatic-we frequently observe people deliberately or inadvertently adopting anti-life values and standards that are self-destructive. Two recent examples from the world of business are Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling.

After 40 years of study and observation I have reached a sufficient level of understanding to be comfortable sharing my experiences, observations and conclusions related to ethics and morality as they apply to international business. This was not an easy journey, and it is certainly not sufficient to simply say: "Follow the Ten Commandments".

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Maurice Marwood is a former director with The Nassau Institute and is presently residing in Taiwan. Click here to read his blog, Memoirs of a Professional Nomad.

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