Must Managers Leave Ethics at Home? Economics and Moral Anomie in Business Organisations
Faculty of Business and Public Management
School of Management
Why is it that some business managers appear to behave differently in private and at work? How, if at all, are the decisions managers make affected by the nature of their organisations? What impact do organisational values have on the moral autonomy of managers? A research project into these questions is now under way in three disparate Australian business firms and this paper sets out the premise underlying it. For purposes of research the general premise is that the moral character of a business influences the moral judgements and actions of its members. More specifically, it is suggested that the economic paradigm renders a business organisation amoral rather than moral or immoral, and as a result moral responsibility comes to be assigned to individual members. However, the socio-cultural nature of such firms interferes with the ability of managers to exercise moral autonomy. Governed as it is by the market or laws of economics, the amoral organisation is likely to transform its members into individuals without moral standards.