is a form of applied ethicsthat examinesethical principles and moral or ethical problems thatarise in a business environment.In the increasingly conscience-focused marketplaces of the 21st century, the demand for more ethical business processes and actions (known asethicism) isincreasing.
Businesses can often attain short-term gains by acting in an unethical fashion; however,such antics tend to undermine the economy over time.Business ethics can be both anormativeand adescriptivediscipline. As a corporate practice and acareer specialization, the field is primarily normative. Inacademia descriptive approaches are also taken. Therange and quantity of business ethical issues reflects thedegree to which business is perceived to be at odds withnon-economic social values. Historically, interest in business ethics accelerated dramatically during the1980s and 1990s, both within major corporations andwithin academia. For example, today most major corporate websites lay emphasis on commitment to promoting non-economic social values under a varietyof headings (e.g. ethics codes, social responsibilitycharters). In some cases, corporations have redefinedtheir core values in the light of business ethicalconsiderations (e.g.BP's "beyond petroleum" environmental tilt).
This part of business ethics overlaps with the philosophy of business,one of theaims of which is to determine the fundamental purposes of a company. If acompany's main purpose is to maximize the returns to its shareholders, then itshould be seen as unethical for a company to consider the interests and rights of anyone else.
Marketing which goes beyond the mere provision of information about (and access to) a product may seek to manipulate our values and behavior. To some extent society regardsthis as acceptable, but where is the ethical line to be drawn? Marketing ethics overlapsstrongly withmedia ethics, because marketing makes heavy use of media. However,media ethicsis a much larger topic and extends outside business ethics.