Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 14, Issue 9, pp 703–714 | Cite as

Theoretical considerations for a meaningful code of professional ethics

  • Karim Jamal
  • Norman E. Bowie


The professions have focused considerable attention on developing codes of conduct. Despite their efforts there is considerable controversy regarding the propriety of professional codes of ethics. Many provisions of professional codes seem to exacerbate disputes between the profession and the public rather than providing a framework that satisfies the public's desire for moral behavior.

After examining three professional codes, we divide the provisions of professional codes into those provisions which urge professionals to avoid moral hazard, maintain professional courtesy and serve the public interest. We note that whereas provisions urging the avoidance of moral hazard are uncontroversial, the public is suspicious of provisions protecting professional courtesy. Public interest provisions are controversial when the public and the profession disagree as to what is in the public interest. Based on these observations, we conclude with recommendations regarding the content of professional codes.


Economic Growth Public Interest Theoretical Consideration Moral Hazard Professional Ethic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karim Jamal
    • 1
    • 2
  • Norman E. Bowie
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of BusinessUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Strategic Management and OrganizationUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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