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Alerting corporate leaders: The need for ethical deliberationa nd sustainability
African Journal of Accounting, Auditing & Finance (2016)
  • Umesh Sharma
  • Kelly Martin

In order to categorise business as “good” one must choose what characterises “Good Business”.  Some argue that any profitable business is good business, but profitable business sometimes creates social and environmental problems.  Anyone can list what good business characteristics are, but the list will not be acceptable to everyone.  We argue that, over the past sixty years, many business students and managers have been prepared to accept unquestioningly what they are told good business characteristics are, without relating those characteristics to societal and environmental wellbeing.  Some decision makers have been persuaded that ethical norms associated with good living are not relevant to business decisions, except when imposed by law.  Business has created many problems in society. 

The Ancient Greeks chose to think carefully about the characteristics that should be encouraged in society.  The results were sometimes questionable: women were not given a voice in societal decisions; the owning of slaves was acceptable.  Nevertheless the decision makers of the time were required to build ethical arguments in to their decision making.  In recent times business leaders have obtained huge power in society, but they have been excused building ethical considerations in to their decision models.  Consequently our world is in jeopardy.  Unless we build ethical considerations in to our deliberations, the world as we know it may collapse due to failures in the ecosystems, or rebellion from the huge number of intolerably poor people. 

We don’t believe it is possible to instruct future managers how to make correct ethical decisions, but we encourage them not to accept any extant decision model unquestioningly.  Managers must install ethical considerations of their own choosing in to their decision models. Those responsible for management education must help future managers recognise the need for self-constructed ethical decision models in society. 

  • sustainability,
  • ethics,
  • business,
  • modernity,
  • neoclassical economics,
  • accounting education.
Publication Date
September, 2016
Citation Information
Umesh Sharma and Kelly Martin. "Alerting corporate leaders: The need for ethical deliberationa nd sustainability" African Journal of Accounting, Auditing & Finance Vol. 5 Iss. 3 (2016) p. 181 - 192
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