Business ethics

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The business ethics is a branch of business ethics and deals with the question of what moral values companies should suffice. This also goes hand in hand with the question of how entrepreneurial pursuit of profit and moral ideals relate to one another.

The justification of these moral ideals is of particular importance, since they come from a time (“small group”) that is no longer comparable with today's. Today's modern, pluralistic society is characterized by enormous complexity, in which action-theoretical attribution schemes (cause → effect) are no longer appropriate due to the risk of unintended consequences.


For companies, ethical considerations are becoming more and more important due to various driving forces (including progress in information and communication technology, pressure groups, awareness-raising among citizens). A company runs the risk of losing its license to operate, i.e. its legitimation on the part of society, if it does not take moral values ​​into account. Examples are: Shell (see Brent Spar or Niger Delta ), Nike (see Sweatshop ), Schlecker (with regard to staff management) and Nestlé (with regard to baby food).

Conceptual approaches in German-speaking countries provide, among other things:

In contrast to the more pragmatic approaches in the Anglo-American region, these approaches are more of a theoretical nature. At the same time, German authors have also been increasingly concerned in recent years with the question of how corporate ethics can be put into practice in corporate practice. Especially against the background ethically unjustifiable practices in trade and fraud in online trading (and also the "tradition of prejudice" against the trade) has Schenk both the ethical boundaries of on psychology back overall retail marketing and the general regulations of Laws, ordinances and commercial customs as well as the principles of proper business conduct and their company-specific supplementation through a code of ethics are examined.


  • Alexander Bassen, Sarah Jastram, Katrin Meyer (2005): Corporate Social Responsibility. An explanation of the term . In: Journal for Economic and Business Ethics . Volume 6, Issue 2 (2005), pp. 231–236.
  • Alexander Brink , Olaf Karitzki (ed.): Business ethics in turbulent times. Business leader on ethics in management . Bern et al: Haupt, 2004.
  • Daniel Dietzfelbinger: Practical Guide to Business Ethics. Key figures, instruments, recommendations for action . Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 9783834905529 .
  • Karl Homann, Franz Blome-Drees: Economic and business ethics . Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1992.
  • Bernd Jöstingmeier : On the business ethics of internationally active companies, (Organization and Management, Vol. 8), Göttingen: Verlag Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1994.
  • Alfred Klose : Entrepreneurial Ethics. Asked today? Soziale Perspektiven Vol. 3, Linz: Veritas Verl. 1988, ISBN 3-85329-638-6 .
  • Markus Knüfermann: Ethics-based strategic management . Heidelberg: Physica-Verlag, 2005, ISBN 3-7908-1589-6 .
  • Wilhelm Korff (Hrsg.): Handbook of business ethics . 4 volumes, Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1999.
  • Peter Koslowski, Birger P. Priddat (ed.): Ethics of consumption . Munich: Fink-Verlag 2006.
  • Hans-Ulrich Küpper: Business Ethics . Schäffer-Poeschel, 2006, ISBN 3791025066 .
  • Hans-Otto Schenk: Psychology in Commerce . 2nd edition, Munich / Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-58379-3 .
  • Horst Steinmann, Albert Löhr: Basics of business ethics . 2. revised and exp. Ed., Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel, 1994.
  • Andreas Suchanek: Economic Ethics . 2nd Edition. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2007, ISBN 978-3-8252-2195-9 (university paperbacks) .
  • EK Seifert, Birger P. Priddat (ed.): Reorientation in economic theory: On the moral, institutional and evolutionary dimension of economic activity . Marburg 1995, pp. 107-123.
  • Josef Wieland: The ethics of governance . Marburg 1999.
  • Daniel F. Pinnow (2007): Elite without ethics? The power of values ​​and self-respect . Frankfurt am Main: Frankfurter Allgemeine Buch , 2007, ISBN 978-3-89981-137-7 .
  • EKD memorandum : “Entrepreneurial Action from a Protestant Perspective” (PDF; 549 kB), Gütersloher Verlagshaus, ISBN 978-3-579-05905-1 .

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