Morals are Detrimental to Business

“No Sentiments in business”—This is one of the very first lessons all of us would have studied in our very first business studies class in high school. It is impossible to carry out a task when one’s heart is attached a tad bit too much to it.

One of the fundamental aspects of business is competition which speaks of winning or being one up on another. This itself goes against what most of us would have studied in primary school moral science classes. There we were taught to think of others before thinking of ourselves. But is this really practical, or in fact possible in an everyday business scenario? Competition brings to us a variety of goods at lower prices. A situation of no competition would lead to no upgradation, no incentives for businesses to expand, grow or to test new avenues.

‘Give to others what you receive’-another moral science lesson. This goes against the very basis of business –profit. A firm has to sell products at a price higher than what they receive. Without profits the entire economy would collapse.

A firm cannot afford to be emotionally attached to a client. If a client defaults on a payment, morals would say ‘Forgive your enemies’. But a true business sense entails taking actions that would prevent such malfunctions from occurring in the future. Morals also tell us to be happy with what we have. But business thrives on growth.

Every person starts a business to earn profits and not to prove his or her moral values by being in it. Investors are in it solely for returns. A company cannot boast of high moral values if it results in lower returns and still expect investors to invest in it. Today’s situation demands that a business practically needs to take advantage of loopholes in the system even though it may be ethically incorrect. Ethics are ok for an NGO or Non-profit organization, but definitely not for a business. It is not as if Bill Gates started Microsoft word in order to eradicate world illiteracy or Monsento had world hunger in mind when they started manufacturing their new genetically modified foods. These were all solely profit oriented ventures.

Some thinkers hold that there is no correct definition of right behaviour, that morality can only be judged with respect to particular situations within the standards of particular belief systems and socio-historical contexts.

We how long it takes to start a business in our country compared to any other country in the world, especially our next door neighbor china. Hence agents are hired and speed money is used to hasten up the process.

In a slow functioning government system, for companies, time is money. Hence businesses do try to look for ways to get around the system. I can personally vouch for the bureaucracy and red-tapeism that exists in our country because of my recent attempt in obtaining a passport. In spite of it being Tatkal, it took me three and a half months longer than the stipulated period of a fortnight.

When the skies were opening up, the Tata’s had planned to start an airline in consortium with Singapore Airways. But it was because of the Tata’s high moral and ethical grounds that the airline was never able to take off in spite of their strong financial strength.

In short, it can be said that business is business. Philosopher and social expert E.A Lange wrote that business experience through the ages has unmistakably shown that an individual can achieve wealth only by ruthlessly pursuing his or her own interests. In parentheses he further added, “Virtues can then be shown in other areas as far as the means allow.”

Vandana Sebastian

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