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Do you think that business and ethics "get along?" That is, are doing the "profitable"...

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ranger1980 | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted July 4, 2013 at 2:45 AM via web

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Do you think that business and ethics "get along?" That is, are doing the "profitable" thing and doing the "right" thing mutually exclusive?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 4, 2013 at 2:57 AM (Answer #1)

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While there are times when doing the right thing and doing the profitable thing are mutually exclusive, there are other times when they are not.  Therefore, the two are not necessarily incompatible with one another.

There are times when it is clearly more profitable to do something that is not really ethical.  For example, a grocery store or a hardware store might want to do something like doubling its prices if a hurricane is about to hit its area.  This sort of “price gouging” is, at least arguably, not ethical.  On the other hand, it is likely to be very profitable. 

On the other hand, it can be profitable to act in ethical ways.  There are at least two ways in which this is possible.  First, acting ethically can make a company look better and can improve its reputation in the eyes of its potential customers.  For example, firms that have been pushing to impose better safety standards on apparel makers in Bangladesh end up improving their image because they look like good corporate citizens.  Second, acting ethically can prevent a firm from someday having to pay large fines if it is caught doing something unethical.

In these ways, ethics and profit can be mutually exclusive, but they do not have to be.

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