Business Ethics: Cases, Codes and Institutions
No one had ever heard of business ethics until around 1970. Matters were very different 10 years later. Business Ethics had established itself in the curricula of many university programs in management and business studies, both in the US and somewhat later, in Europe. The achievement did not come about without labour. The new discipline was frowned upon from many sides. Looking back, we can discern three phases in the development of business ethics. In the first phase case discussions dominated the discipline. The case method was a welcome change from an academic practice that had stayed aloof of concrete problems for too long on the one hand and was caught up in abstract system theoretical reflections on the other. The second phase meant a shift towards organisation issues and CSR. The third phase is the future. It is to be hoped that the discipline retrieves the workmanship of morally analyzing cases and finds ways of linking this to a thorough investigation into the institutional dimension of business ethics.