Finance & Accounting

Business and Professional Ethics Reading

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Assessment Type


Word Count

800 words


Business Ethics


1 Day

Assignment Criteria


This is a close reading exercise. The aim of the exercise is to get you to analyze in detail the specific arguments presented in the selected reading and to answer the questions about the case study in order to better understand one of the central debates in business ethics. *This assignment is not an essay, but many of the points made in the Guidelines apply to all philosophical writing. 

  • Make sure you answer every part of each question and address the specific details of the questions (i.e. read the questions carefully) 
  • This is a short answer assignment. You do not need to answer the questions in the form of an essay. Remember to number each question. 
  • Please include a bibliography with the relevant sources from the question and any additional sources you reference directly. Include relevant citations throughout the assignment (assignments without references will not be accepted). Focus primarily on the Goodpaster article, the radio item and the newspaper article. Also you may consult other unit readings relevant to this topic (narrow view v broader views) to help in understanding the issues raised by Goodpaster. 
  • Remember to explain the arguments in your own words, limit direct quotations and to avoid close paraphrasing of the source material.

Referencing Style:

Harvard Referencing style. (Please include the article page numbers on the in text reference as well)

  • Read the following article (on e-Reserve) and answers ALL the questions below:

E. Goodpaster, 'Business Ethics and Stakeholder Analysis', Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1. (Jan., 1991), pp. 53-73.

a) What does Goodpaster mean by 'strategic stakeholder synthesis'? Why does he think that businesses that operate according to the principles of strategic stakeholder synthesis do not really introduce ethical values into business decision-making? 
(See Strategic Stakeholder Synthesis pp.57-59 and Is the Substance Ethical pp. 59-61) 

b) Goodpaster argues that we need an approach to business ethics that avoids business without ethics (strategic stakeholder synthesis) and ethics without business (a multi- fiduciary stakeholder approach). Explain Goodpaster's nonfiduciary approach to business obligations, making sure you distinguish it from both the multi-fiduciary stakeholder approach and the strategic stakeholder approach. 

c) Does Goodpaster's nonfiduciary account of business obligations provide sufficient protection for the interests of stakeholders other than shareholders? Does it avoid the problem of treating stakeholders as mere means to corporate ends? Given reasons for your answer. 

  • Listen to the following radio program or read the transcript: 'Casualties in the Supermarket Wars' and answer the following questions:

Goodpaster argues that businesses have significant nonfiduciary duties to stakeholders other than shareholders. These include the duties not to harm, coerce, lie, cheat or steal (p.67). 

a) Do you believe, based on the accounts given in the radio program, that the major supermarket chains in Australia violate any of these fundamental moral duties? Provide details to support your answer. 

b) What moral duties, if any, do you believe the large supermarkets owe to their suppliers? Use examples from the program to illustrate your points. 

  • Read the following news item and answer the related questions.

a) Is Woolworths' request for 'Mind the Gap' payments from suppliers consistent with the narrow view of business ethics? Provide reasons to support your conclusion. 

b) Is Woolworths' request for 'Mind the Gap' payments from suppliers consistent with a stakeholder approach to business ethics? Provide reasons to support your conclusion. 

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Assignment Solution

Question one

The strategic stakeholder synthesis is imagining the decision-maker engaged in “stakeholder analysis” for embedded reasons that are different and not always concerning ethics. For example, the management team may be careless in taking the negative and the positive effects of the stakeholder for the reasons that there might be retaliation or resistance in offending the stakeholders.

The ethical concern might not hold true for stakeholders guiding and motivating the negative and positive stakeholder effect. The concern can be related to the potential impediments in achieving the strategic objectives. Therefore, the negative and positive effects on the stakeholders who are relatively powerless and can be discounted or ignored in the action, choice, and the synthesis phases of the decision process. The managers bind the stakeholders as agents of principals with the subordinating effect of their basic outlook and the concerns of other stakeholders being below those of the stockholders (Goodpaster 1991, p.53-73). 

If the business ethics are taken seriously, it does not indicate that additional fiduciary relationships are borne by the management to the third parties. The third parties are the constituencies of the non-stockholder, as suggested by the synthesis of multi-fiduciary stakeholder.  This indicates that significant nonfiduciary obligations exist morally to the third parties that surround any kind of fiduciary relationship. The private sectors organizations and the private individuals owe such moral obligations to the people, where their economic behaviours have affected their well being and freedom.   These obligations are the ones that have been pointed out as judicial, legislative, and regulatory arguments to constrain the activities that are related to the profit-driven business, rather than the ones that are not stealing, cheating, lying, coercing or harming other people. These obligations are not indirect or contingent or hypothetical as they represent themselves in the strategic model. They are merely the ones that are resposnsible for the interest of the corporation being met. Their roots are not in a fiduciary relationship, rather on the relationships other than that (Goodpaster 1997, p. 51-57).  

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