Business Ethics And Value Systems Ethics In Corporate America.

2625 words - 11 pages

Ethics in Corporate AmericaBusiness Ethics and Value SystemsWinter 2002What turns a "fired up" professional into a "burned out" employee? If you ask a young engineer what is the role of engineering, you'll get an answer like "improving people's lives by solving real world problems." If you ask that same engineer the same question after they've been on the job for about fifteen years, you'll get a more mature perspective: "improving the company's profitability by increasing product quality or decreasing cost." Along with this change of perspective comes other, subtler changes. Younger engineers want to get ahead by demonstrating intense commitment to the job, willingness to put in long hours, and brilliant solutions to complex problems. Mature engineers want to stay on schedule and still have some time to be with their families. I can't speak for other professions, but this appears to be a widespread phenomenon.I believe in the basic philosophy of the free enterprise system -- that individuals must be free to reap the fruits of their own labor; that the opportunity to achieve personal goals motivates the worker to produce; that the competent and the specially skilled deserve rewards commensurate with their performance. But I also have come to believe that the real world is far more complicated than is allowed for in any ideological philosophy. Modern Industrial Capitalism (at least as I've experienced) has inherent limitations that have not been solved philosophically. It is necessary to try some empirical adjustments.The biggest limitation of our existing system is its inherent inability to achieve its fundamental goal. Whatever happened to the dream of progress -- that modern technology would free people from drudgery, and everyone would be able to live in comfort, spending their time enriching the world and thinking great thoughts? Wasn't that what we really set out to achieve? Toward that goal, we can now make virtually any region of the earth comfortably habitable. We can produce food and clothing in staggering quantities, at unbelievable rates of production, using very little labor in proportion to the output. We have greatly extended the life span of our species, and we know how to cure or eliminate the suffering of a great range of diseases. We can communicate around the globe in less time than it takes to hear the voice of someone across a room.And yet, with all of these capabilities, have we removed people from the confines of drudgery? Do we live in a world free from want? Does each new advancement reduce the burden on the everyday life of the average person? Why not?In a perverse way, the efficiency and success of the modern industrial system has become its own nemesis. The competitive economy -- which is fundamentally necessary to bring about the technological advances that can produce the good life -- is incapable of freeing people up to live it. Utopian fantasies of one form or another have been at the core of most people's idea of...

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