Main Learning Points from Sustainability and International Business Ethics Class

This is a learning diary produced at the end of the Sustainability and International Business Ethics class in April, 2015.
________________________________________________________

 

The Sustainability and International Business Ethics class raised the important issues that have no easy, so-called “black and white” answers. The context of business raises numerous concerns requiring truly complex and multilateral approach. Business practice and work remuneration promises to create a context for the pursuit of happiness to those hardworking individuals that pursue it, meanwhile, creating the favorable environment for development of manipulation with truths and right-and-wrongs in the process of reaching the goals. This class successfully reveals the conflicting nature of business with many controversies between the various goals of stakeholders. The various goals create the opposing tensions that go beyond the reach of legal requirement and require ethical approach from businesses. Beyond all, I enjoyed not the answers that the presented material provides with numerous ethical approaches to the issues, solutions and perspectives but the questions that it raises leaving me to answer them for myself.

During the class, I have discovered a number of topics that broadened my perception of ethical issues a business faces. The other topics raised resistance and the need in deeper reflection. The concept of 1) sustainability and the sustainable development, 2) the components of sustainability from the triple bottom-line model, 3) the stakeholders’ theory of the firm (especially the broad version) and 4) the pragmatic ethical theory has widened the understanding about the ways businesses approach ethics. On the other hand, the cultural relatedness of the ethics especially in the context of developing the global code of ethics has puzzled me. Next, I will briefly cover on these points. Continue reading “Main Learning Points from Sustainability and International Business Ethics Class”

Marketing hypocrisy: customer needs – what firms actually aim to meet

No matter what sweet marketing reasoning says (Levitt, Kotler and alike), firms do not seek a customer per se, as a human, for who customer is with his life, troubles and routine to help him (see profound discussion by Fromm 1994). These issues are left to government backed social care and church at the best. See how many customer needs are ready to be met around the globe and too few companies ready to meet them because there is no financial interest – the customer needs need to match companies’ goals. Firms seek a customer that will buy their product. It is not the customer needs that company aims to meet. Contrary, it is company goals a firm aims to meet by addressing dehumanized customer demands (Fromm 1994). In such context, customer need is of any interest as long as they allow gain opportunities. Just as companies are not interested in customers per se, customers are equally interested in companies only for the reason of a product. The correct stress and priorities changes the tune; it scatters marketing tinsel away leaving crude reality.

And the reality is plain: companies sell products, be that goods, services, know-how, even when they are dreams. Product is the finite outcome of organization’s existence. The transfer of value from firm to customer and from customer to a firm is the blood that runs through the veins of economy. All activities of a firm directly or indirectly support the goal of facilitating transaction of values – money for product. No transfer – no customer. It is “Capitalism 101.” The role of marketing is to convince the fool to trade – the rest is lyrics.

Fromm, E. (1994). Escape from Freedom (repring, r). Henry Holt and Company.