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Department of Business Administration

School of Business and Economics

A Book Review on:


Business Ethics for Dummies
by Norman E. Bowie and Meg Schneider

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of


Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility (BA-102A)
7:30- 9:00 AM TTH GR230 1st Semester AY 2015- 2016

Submitted by:
JANICA D. SAN GABRIEL

August 13, 2015


BOOK REVIEW PAPER
Name of Student: Janica D. San Gabriel
A. GENERAL FEATURES OF THE BOOK
Title of the Book: Business Ethics for Dummies
Name of Authors: Norman E. Bowie and Meg Schneider
Place of Publication: 111 River St. Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774

Date: August 13, 2015

Name of Publisher: Wiley Publishing, Inc.


Copyright Date: 2011
Total No. Of Pages: 360
B. SPECIAL FEATURES OF THE BOOK
Preface: According to the author, the target readers of the book are all those who have strived to define
and measure ethical conduct for themselves, their loved ones, and society at large, and to all those who
continue to explore the meaning of right and wrong and develop their own ethical values. This book is all
about business ethics and how one can establish this practice in his own business and work life.
Authors Background: Norman E. Bowie is the leading scholar in the application of Kants moral
philosophy to business. He is currently professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota and is the
former Elmer L. Andersen Chair in Corporate Responsibility at the university. He has authored or edited
16 books and more than 75 articles on ethics and business. Meg Schneider is an award-winning writer
with more than two decades of experience in television, radio and print journalism, and public relations.
She has authored or coauthored 11 books, including Stem Cells For Dummies (Wiley), Budget Weddings
For Dummies (Wiley), COPD For Dummies (Wiley), and Making Millions For Dummies (Wiley).
Table of Contents: There are a total of 21 chapters divided into 5 subtopics. The contents have an
introduction, appendix, and index. The subtopics are in phrases that depict the main idea. There are 2
table of contents. The first emphasizes on the subtopics while the second emphasized the details to each
chapter. Ten pages were allotted for the table of contents.
List of Figures: The only pictures found are those in some of the chapters title page. They are just
caricatures but thats all. There is no list of figures.
List of Tables: There are no tables found.
Glossary: There is no glossary found.
Index: Eighteen pages were allocated for the index. The type of index available is based on the subject
only. It was verified that the subject is in the corresponding pages mentioned.
Appendix: There is only one appendix found. Only 5 pages were allocated for this.
Bibliography: There is no bibliography found.
Others: There is a portion allocated to the acknowledgements. They talk about others who have
contributed to the book. There is also a portion for dedication but this serves as the preface.
C. SUMMARY

Chapter 13 entitled Establishing a Companys Ethical Culture discusses the factors that
generate a culture of ethical behavior in business. It speaks of the core values, which shape a companys
ethical culture. It is important that there is a mission statement in every business that spells out its reason
for existence. Core values define the ways in which the company achieves its mission. These core values

are broad ideals, which apply to the dealings of the company with other stakeholders. An example is
Treating others with respect. This core value extends to everyone. Other core values are honesty,
fairness, and justice. It is important that the company take serious interest in the workforces welfare and
growth. This will help motivate its employees to behave ethically themselves. An effective way to motivate
them is to give them a decision-making power to a certain extent. It is also presumed that businesses
have a moral contract with their customers to provide an honest product or service at a fair price.
The chapter also discusses on developing an effective code of Ethics. This set of guidelines can
help each employee in making ethical decisions in their everyday work life. Companies can open up to
their people about ethics in many ways. They can poll employees on their personal values. They can ask
employees to identify the workplace pressures that can com- promise their personal values. They can
also use hypothetical examples to measure how employees would handle ethical dilemmas.
Similar to what is stated in our own textbook, people in general are motivated to take the actions
that benefit them and avoid those that dont. This is why companies usually design rewards and
incentives schemes so their people can live up to the core values established by the companies. It is bat
to put too much emphasis on quotas and financial targets. This can result to unintended pressures that
may undermine company efforts to build an ethical culture.
Lastly, this chapter includes Mastering the Art of Apology which was not included in our own
textbook. It talks about the concept of To err is human, and after all, humans run businesses. Top
management may make mistakes but the sooner they apologize sincerely, the better. They are less likely
to be in a lawsuit. According to the book, To be effective, a business apology must be sincere, delivered
as soon as possible after the transgression, accompanied by meaningful actions to correct the problem.
Chapter 20 entitled Ten Ways Managers Can Keep Their Companies Ethical talks about
ensuring the right people are in the front line; knowing what steps to ensure ethical compliance; and
having an established ethical workplace that workers would like to be part of. This chapter is a walk
through of ten things a company can do to ensure that the business stays ethically minded. First, choose
ethical leaders. This may be the single most important thing to maintain an ethical culture in a company. If
the leaders arent ethical, itll cascade down to the rank and file employees. When doing interviews to
choose managers, here are a few ideasask the candidate to describe a workplace dilemma she has

encountered and to explain how she resolved it, pose a hypothetical ethical dilemma to the candidate and
ask him how he would handle it, ask the candidates opinion on current business ethics in the news.
Second, have an independent board of directors. They are the ones who oversee the organizations
management. Their responsibility is to the organizations primary stakeholders. They must avoid
nepotism, institute structural reforms, ask outsiders to serve on the board, provide information in clear
language, and invite questioning. Third, have a living code of ethics. It is important to make sure the code
of ethics isnt just a forgotten piece of paper. It should be a living document, which is continually
reviewed for relevance. The best ethics codes apply to everyone in the company, promote transparency
and accountability, remain committed to core values, and keep up with technological and other changes.
Fourth, explain the reasoning behind your code. Many say that knowledge is power. It is necessary to
explain why the code is important. This will help bring value to the employees when doing ethical
practices. Fifth, apply ethical standards to everyone. There shouldnt be any exemption to the rule. Sixth,
value ethics over performance. Profit shouldnt be the only goal. There should be other goals which bring
benefit to society and the employees. Seventh, engage stakeholders. Generally, the more
communication paths you build between your company and your stakeholders, the more successful youll
be in getting the input you need to maintain your companys ethical culture. Eighth, support industry-wide
regulation. Its always good to be benchmarking on the standards. This gives employees sense of
assurance. Ninth, create an environment where people want to come to work. Employees who feel
valued, who are treated right, who are paid fairly, who feel they have a voice in the company are more
attached to the company. Tenth, stay alert to ethical threats. It is better to be preventive than to be
corrective.

D. REACTION

In my opinion, this book is more extensive compared to our prescribed textbook. I guess it is
because its concepts and theories are more internationally accepted and can be used in most countries.
Nonetheless, both authors have points that the other doesnt have. For Paquibut, his chapter 5 is more on

the Individual in an Organization. His focus is more on the psychological aspects of the employee in an
organization. For Bowie and Schneider, their similar chapters focus is on the organizational ethics and
how each individual contribute to the organization.
Based on how the authors write the book, I believe they can really capture the audiences
attention. This is because they speak in a way that is suggestive and as if theyre just giving advice. The
audience would then feel like its directed straight to him/her. They would be more interested in reading
further. Its more on a guide style kind of book. For example, in chapter 20 theyve mentioned that there is
just Ten Ways Managers Can Keep Their Companies Ethical. Then they start listing them down with
simple yet meaty discussions. They dont use too many complex terms and they make sure they define
those uncommon ones so that the reader can still follow on the discussions.
If I were to compare the two books, Id say they both have equally weighted pros and cons. For
Paquibuts book, it isnt as extensive when it comes to business ethics. It speaks more on general
ethics, as compared to Bowies. The good thing about Paquibuts book is, it is focused on Filipino culture.
So we Filipinos can easily relate to his examples, unlike Bowies, which is generalized for most countries
to benefit, but to a limited extent. The good thing about Bowies book is, there is more focus on the
Business ethics and organization oriented.
With regards to the concepts, I very much agree with all of them. I believe that one must identify
the companys core values, develop an effective code of ethics, maintain a strong ethical culture, send the
message from the top down, and lastly, master the art of apology. These set of guidelines are, for me,
spot on when trying to establish an ethically inclined culture in a business setting. If we are able to do all
these in the best capacity that we can, I am firm in my stand that the company will prosper, not just
financially, but ethically. Many people would want to join that business and be a part of the success it is
making.
Like I sad, I completely agree with the authors. But, Im just concerned that the businessmen
reading this will just follow the rules just so they know how to look like they are ethical but in substance,
they really arent. This is very true in many businesses these days. For example, my mothers friend who
works in a certain company was told that shed get bonus incentives if she does this and does that. But
she later overheard the top managements discussion on how they only will give bonuses at a limited

amount and not really the amount that is fair to the employees. Theyre just saying that to seem ethical
but in reality they arent.
The authors should give more real life examples in their context. This can help the readers
appreciate ethical values. Through these examples, they can see how these principles take play in the
real business setting. These days, its easy to fool and be fooled. People are getting smarter and
sometimes, they use their smarts for the wrong. So, its important to keep the readers informed of the
current happenings and the current settings.
As to recommending this book as our textbook, I would be a yes for it. Its simple,
understandable, comprehensive, and fun to read. The students these days have a very small attention
span when it comes to these kinds of literature and I think that this book will do just the job at extending
that span. Its all about the way these authors talk about the topics at hand. Theyre direct to the point and
they dont sound draggy at all.

E. REFLECTION
As I was reading the chapters of this book, Ive come to realize so many things. Ethics really is a
necessity when working, and not just in work but in everyday life as well. Imagine if we do not live in a
world with no values, rules, and the like? Itd be chaos I tell you. Its the same as having anyone steal
from you, kill you, and you too can do the same. Now who would want to live in a world like that? I dont
think itd last this long, if you ask me.
This book has also opened my eyes to how complex our society has become. Big firms are as big
as cities. People are generally profit seeking. I mean, look at what happened to the Enron scandal. A lot of
investors lost a lot more than just money. All their hard work, gone like the wind all in a day. This is why
we need to set ethical standards to keep everyone honest and of integrity. Imagine if there were no code
of ethics. Prices of goods and services would rise because well need to spend more on security, on
contracts with interests just so that theres a verification that theres no fraud. And people wouldnt buy
your goods if there were no full disclosure of every single detail of transaction youve done. This again
would entail so much cost.
I also believe that not just business owners should read these books, but the employees as well.
They need to understand the way an ethical company should be run otherwise, they might be fooled into
thinking the company they work in is, but in fact it isnt. In this day and age, things are getting more
complex and the business heads are getting smarter. The good may look evil and the evil may look good.

This is why people must continually evolve as well. They must try to attain as much knowledge as
possible and thats why books like these exist.
Its not enough that we learn the technical skills to do the job. We must be able to do the job the
right way, the morally ethical way. I mean, look at the Philippines now. We actually do have code of ethics
and all that in private companies and in the government but we are still suffering from corruption and
mistrust by our government officials, sad to say. It would really be worse if there were no ethics at all. We
have to see the importance of such guidelines and not just take them for granted. We have to learn to not
just read and memorize these concepts. It has to be applied in our daily lives, including work life.
This book also got me appreciating the authors and not just these authors, but also authors
around the world who take their precious time in writing these literatures. Like what our national hero said
The pen is mightier than the sword and we can clearly see it manifest. These books are more than what
their worth. They teach us the proper values that one person should attain. Sometimes, I wished that
certain people in my life would understand these concepts by heart because Ive seen how they dealt with
business and its just sad to see them do it the wrong way and end up bankrupt.
To tie it all together, Ive come to like reading books related to business ethics, especially if theyd
give real life scenarios. I even told myself to start reading the news and get myself involved in the society.
Theres really much more to life than just profit. A good life definitely isnt equal to money. There are things
that money can never buy, and that is your soul. We are all just stewards here, stewards of God. We need
to take care of all his belongings here on earth, even in business. Our profit isnt ultimately ours. Its all
Gods.