Business ethics research

Last weekend, I attended the academic conference Decision Sciences Institute's annual meeting.  There I presented a paper detailing my research in ethics.  I also attended a couple other sections within the business ethics track and came away very dismayed.

Here is a sampling of the research:
In one paper, the author argued that executive pay is too high.  Her solution?  When hiring new CEOs in weak companies, offer the CEO a high salary the first year that progressively diminishes ever year there after.  I couldn't think of a worse "solution".  CEOs would have no motivation for long term return, only a very short sighted view of corporate turn around.  After a year, CEOs would likely look elsewhere for employment. The expense of trying to find a new CEO every year would actually increase CEO pay over the long run, not decrease it.

In another paper, the title seemed to start in the right direction, questioning bribery in undeveloped and developing countries.  However, throughout the presentation the presenter never questioned the underlying cause of bribery.   And so, the presenter tried to justify the "relationship" between business and government, ultimately destroying her argument against bribery.  She did not understand that the government should be a protector of individual property rights, not the regulator of property. 

In another paper, the authors condemned the accounting profession for various fraud cases made public recently.  They argued that accountants conducting external audits on companies should include fraud detection services.  Now, fraud detection is generally a good thing.  However, their arguments rested on the notion that fraud detection would serve the "public good".  That's complete nonsense.  Their argument would have been much stronger if they had appealed to the selfish board of directors, on behalf of the shareholders, demanding fraud detection from external audits.

There were a few snarly comments about selfishness.  But all-in-all, my paper was positively received, in part because I merely introduced a means of measuring selfishness and selflessness, but didn't argue for or against any one perspective.  My long term goal being the demonstration of utilizing various ethical perspectives when making decisions and the ultimate consequence. 

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