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Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society

Volume 1, 1990

Proceedings of the First Annual Meeting

Edward Shafer
Pages 683-701

Overcoming Conflicts Between Strategic and Ethics Models

In the field of Business Ethics there is a common belief that ethical conflicts can be resolved within existing organizational and ethical frameworks, i.e., that these frameworks are or can be made compatible. This paper suggests that fundamental differences between strategic and ethics models render them incompatible. Strategic models are outcome oriented. Ethics models focus on means. Other critical differences exist. Many ethics models are inconsistent with each other, making it difficult to find a common ground for use with strategy . Ethics models are normative, static and seek universal behavior; strategic models are situational and adaptive. This difference is particularly critical in light of the rapid changes in technology, the increasing globalization of business and the merger and acquisition trend of recent years. Perhaps the most critical difference is that ethics models rarely measure results in financial terms whereas strategic models almost always do so. These differences are examined in support of the view that the current strategic and ethics models are irreconcilable. Suggestions are offered for developing new models which recognize the differences and seek to reconcile them.

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