Why do we focus on business ethics?
The Providnece Business program focuses on business ethics for at least three reasons:
- We're a Christian program.
Christians who look either into their history, or into their own hearts, know they can make no claims to being more ethical than others. But they do know being a Christian brings with it an obligation to search for the right action in every situation.
- Virtually all business failures are, when examined carefully, also ethical failures.
The sub-prime mortgage industry became a disaster, in part, because risks got separated from rewards. It happened at the personal level of mortgage brokers, and at the level of AIG.
There are many reasons for the collapse of GM and Chrysler and the near-death experience of Ford. One of the prime causes was the willingness of their leadership to make commitments in union negotiations that they should have known they could never keep. They're called "legacy costs" now, but originally, they were commitments made in exchange for work provided.
The solutions to the current economic crisis are neither obvious, nor easy.
The current call for re-regulation is an attempt to re-apply ethical constraints that have been gradually loosened. The challenge in crafting those regulations will be the same as it has been for all ethical codes - how to constrain harm, while giving the freedom needed for human beings to flourish.
- We must have a distinctive focus.
There are hundreds - perhaps thousands - of university and college business programs around the world. Just like every business, we compete in a market.
We are small - and we are proud to be small. If we try to compete with the big schools on their own terms, we will fail.
The successful businesses are those that find a distinctive competency, and match that competency with customers who value it. What is true for businesses overall is true for business programs as well. Our distinctive competency is ethics.