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The failure of business ethics

Zsolt Boda (Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary and Business Ethics Center, Corvinus University of Budapest, Budapest, Hungary)
Laszlo Zsolnai (Business Ethics Center, Corvinus University of Budapest, Budapest, Hungary and European SPES Institute, Leuven, Belgium)

Society and Business Review

ISSN: 1746-5680

Article publication date: 8 February 2016




This paper aims to investigate the systemic causes of the failure of business ethics (BE) and suggest some possible remedies. The discipline and the movement of BE has at least three decades of history. BE has developed concepts and theories, and provided empirical evidences. However, BE as a movement and as a practice has failed to deliver the expected results.


The paper uses results from management ethics, moral psychology and corporate governance to analyze the underlying causes of corporate unethical behavior.


The failure of BE is deeply rooted in today’s corporation-ruled business world. BE has failed to realize systemic features of modern business and therefore missed its target. The social, ethical and environmental problems caused by corporations may require a different kind of treatment based on law, politics and social institutions.


The paper uses models outside ethics to help business organizations to become more ethical in their functioning.



Boda, Z. and Zsolnai, L. (2016), "The failure of business ethics", Society and Business Review, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 93-104.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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