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Saturday, March 25th, 2017


Business Ethics Blog by Prof. Chris MacDonald


December 9th, 2010
Wikileaks, Credit-Card Companies, and Complicity


I was interviewed last night on CBC TV’s “The Lang & O’Leary Exchange” about Mastercard and Visa’s decision to stop acting as a conduit for donations to the controversial secret-busting website Wikileaks. [Here's the show. I'm at about 15:45.] (For those of you who don’t already know the story, here’s The Guardian‘s version, which focuses [...]

December 6th, 2010
Four Myths About Business Ethics


Here are four important myths about business ethics. There are surely many myths about business ethics, but these 4 in particular cause trouble, and pose significant challenges for anyone trying to have a productive discussion about right and wrong in the world of business. Myth #1. “Business ethics” is an oxymoron. The idea that “business [...]

November 26th, 2010
Intellectual Property and the Chilean Miners


Last month I posted about some Ethical Issues for the Chilean Miners. There, I pondered the moral force of the contract that the 33 trapped miners signed while still underground, promising each other to share equally the eventual profits of any future publicity. This month, I’m quoted in an article on that same topic, in [...]

November 16th, 2010
Conflict of Interest at the Business/Politics Interface


People tend not to trust big business. And they tend not to trust the world of politics. But when those two worlds intersect, people really get nervous. Witness, for example, this story by Eric Lipton, for yesterday’s New York Times: A Journey From Lawmaker to Lobbyist and Back Again The story is about Dan Coats, [...]

November 14th, 2010
MBA Ethics Education: Designing the Designers


As a Visiting Scholar at the Rotman School of Management (more specifically at the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics and Board Effectiveness), I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we educate tomorrow’s business leaders. This is the first of a series of blog entries on that topic. Clearly, what we need to teach future [...]

November 12th, 2010
Walmart & Free Shipping: Who Will Suffer?


Once again, Walmart is making headlines with a business practice that will be good for its customers, and bad for its competitors. Here’s the story, by Stephanie Clifford for the NYT: Wal-Mart Says ‘Try This On’: Free Shipping For years, Wal-Mart has used its clout as the nation’s largest retailer to squeeze competitors with rock-bottom [...]

November 7th, 2010
Social Responsibilities of Business


The question of what a company’s social obligations are is an interesting one, and a vexed one. Unfortunately, the question is complicated by the fact that the very term “Corporate Social Responsibility” (“CSR”) has come to be associated with a particular view about the right answer to that question. As I’ve argued here before, the [...]

November 5th, 2010
Management Ethics & Oaths Without Professionalization


Here’s a piece I wrote as part of a debate on the MBA Oath, in a recent Canadian Business magazine: The MBA oath helps remind graduates of their ethical obligations. In the article, I express the view that the MBA Oath, in its current incarnation, is “not a revolutionary thing, not a perfect thing, [but] [...]

November 4th, 2010
Pennies-Be-Gone: The Ethics of Rounding


The always-useful Consumerist brings us this story, with a self-explanatory title: A Lone Dunkin’ Donuts Sort Of Abolishes Pennies One donut shop is taking a stand against the bacteria-ridden zinc disks of suck that are pennies. Reader Tom sent us [a photo of a sign] from a store he recently visited. In a policy change [...]

October 31st, 2010
UNICEF’s Deal With Cadbury: A Trick, or a Treat?


This is now an entire genre of ethics stories, involving a charity facing criticism for aligning itself with a corporate sponsor whose values seem inconsistent with its own. Here’s the story, by Carly Weeks, for the Globe and Mail: UNICEF sold out by making deal with Cadbury, medical journal says One of the world’s most [...]

October 25th, 2010
Governance, Both Political and Corporate


The word “governance” (as in, “corporate governance”) is obviously quite similar to the word “government.” And just as obviously, that’s no coincidence. The two words share the same roots. In the abstract, the word “governance” just refers to the act of governing something. But it’s not just the meaning of the words that overlaps — [...]

October 21st, 2010
Is a Board Position a Conflict of Interest?


Here’s an story (in which I was quoted) by Paul Turenne, in the Winnipeg Sun: Gerrard slams WRHA manager’s ‘moonlighting’. The story is basically about a senior executive (Brock Wright) at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (the public body responsible for administering hospitals in and around that city) who took a position on the Board [...]

October 20th, 2010
Corporate Governance and Ethics


“Corporate governance” is the term used to refer to the policies and processes by which a corporation (or other large, complex institution) is controlled and directed. It refers especially to the way power and accountability flow between shareholders, boards of directors, CEOs, and senior managers. For most corporations, the basic governance structure is this: shareholders [...]

October 18th, 2010
Ethics and Economics (And Coffee Too)


A bit of economics can go a long ways in helping understand a range of issues in business ethics. I’m not an economist myself, but I’ve read a fair bit of economics here & there. And I want to read more. In order to arrive at sound ethical conclusions, you need more than just ethical [...]

October 18th, 2010
Ethical Issues for the Chilean Miners


On August 5, 33 miners went down into the San José copper-gold mine; over two months later, 33 entrepreneurs emerged from the mine. They were labourers once. Now they’re businessmen, and celebrities. Their fame is already being used by major corporations for public relations purposes. The New York Times reported, for instance, that Apple has [...]

October 12th, 2010
Wall Street (1987) — “Greed is Good”


I just re-watched the original 1987 film, Wall Street. (The sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, is in theatres now, and apparently doing very well.) In the original Wall Street, Michael Douglas’s character, Gordon Gekko, is a corporate raider — essentially, he buys up underperforming companies, breaks them up and sells their parts at a [...]

October 10th, 2010
Ethics & Foreclosures


The number one business story of the week is surely the foreclosure story. A number of U.S. banks, including most notably Bank of America, have suspended mortgage foreclosures for the time being due to worries over flawed paperwork. Here’s just one of many news items on the topic, by David Streitfeld and Nelson D. Schwartz [...]

October 6th, 2010
When Personal Problems Become Business Problems


A divorce is a very private thing, except of course when it isn’t. And an employee’s (or executive’s) private struggles are, well, private — except when various kinds of business analysts start taking notice of those struggles. Case in point: the bitter lawsuit over the terms of the difficult divorce of Elon Musk, one of [...]

October 5th, 2010
Corporate Participation in the Death Penalty


Drug companies are often accused of engaging in, or of complicity in, all manner of wrongdoing. It’s less often (though certainly not unheard of) that they’re accused of participation in actual killings, or offered the opportunity to save a life. This is one of those cases. The story begins here, with a heinous crime not [...]

October 4th, 2010
California’s Marijuana Industry: Ethical Issues


I’ve blogged about the insurance industry, the mining industry, the auto industry, even the donut industry. But the pot industry? Yes, it’s time. From the Sacramento Bee: Growth of California’s Pot Industry is Good News for Unions As Californians prepare to vote on a November ballot initiative that would expand legalization to recreational pot use, [...]













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