Business and Professional Ethics
Program manager – Professor Tom Campbell
The aim of this program is to make a major research contribution to business and professional ethics from a distinctively philosophical standpoint. Members of the program are in touch with the realities of commercial and professional life through discussion with people working in business and the professions. Our task is to illuminate practical experience with relevant theoretical argument generated by using well-developed skills and techniques of contemporary analytical philosophy.
In and beyond our Core Projects the program addresses the ethical aspects of a range of key issues confronting business and the professions, including the governance of corporations as it impacts on stakeholders, corruption in business and professional life, the moral obligations arising from human rights, the role of occupational associations in promoting appropriate behaviour by their members and the certain specific responsibilities of key professional groups.
- Corporate Responsibility for Economic and Ethical Sustainability
- Regulating Communication in the Professions
- Andrew Alexandra
- Dr Christian Barry
- Dr Ned Dobos
- Professor Tom Campbell
- Professor Clive Hamilton
- Professor Seumas Miller
- Dr Edward Spence
Recent Program Highlights
The Business and Professional Ethics Program brought successfully to completion two important projects during 2006. The book Human Resource Management: Ethics and Employment, published early in 2007 by Oxford University Press is the culmination of the Human Resource Management project. The Report Professionalisation, Ethics and Integrity Systems: The Promotion of Professional Ethical Standards and the Protection of Clients and Consumers, presented to the Professional Standards Council of New South Wales, is the major outcome of a joint project on the professionalisation of occupations.
A major step forward was taken in the field of business ethics with the arrival, late in the year, of Dr Justin O’Brien, from Queen’s University Belfast, who has been appointed to a chair in Corporate Governance within the Program. Professor O’Brien, who is energetically engaged in studies of financial sector ethics and regulation, rapidly initiated plans for a number of important projects.
Core Project – Ethics of Human Resource Management (HRM)
HRM remains a central field of study for Dr Rob Macklin and Dr David Ardagh, both of whom have major chapters in Human Resource Management: Ethics and Employment, to which Tom Campbell, Adrian Walsh and Sheena Smith also contributed. This book, co-edited by Rob Macklin, Tom Campbell and Professor Ashly Pinnington of Robert Gordon’s University, Aberdeen, Scotland, is expected to have a significant impact in this field of ethics. Rob Macklin continues his empirical study of attitudes to free speech in the workplace. Employee interests also feature in a study of corporate social responsibility being conducted by Tom Campbell in conjunction with the College of Law at the Australian National University and the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies in the University of Oxford. Jeremy Moss and Robert Young (La Trobe) are in the second year of their ARC-funded project on problems with casual labour and unemployment.
Core Project – Codes of Ethics for the Professions
This year Codes of Ethics were the subject of investigation with respect to a number of different occupations: Dr David Ardagh and Dr Rob Macklin dealt with occupations relating to business persons, Professor Tom Campbell with the judiciary, Professor Seumas Miller with lawyers and accountants, Dr Dean Cocking with the professionalisation of occupations generally, Andrew Alexandra with engineers and estate agents, Margaret Coady with child welfare and Dr Edward Spence with journalists and advertisers. Professor Miller and Mathew Ward undertook a related consultancy with the Legal Services Commissioner concerning multi-profession firms for whom they produced the report: Solicitors: Incorporated and Multi-Disciplinary Legal Practices.
Dr Dean Cocking took the lead in collating the interviews and developing the research work on ethical professionalism undertaken with the Professional Standards Council (PSC) and contributed to by Professor Miller, Professor Campbell, Andrew Alexandra, Professor John Weckert, Margaret Coady, Michael Bowern, Mathew Ward, and Kevin White (Sociology, ANU). In the report on this project, Codes of Ethics feature as an essential ingredient of ”Cover of Excellence” provisions as part of the PSC. Margaret Coady continued to serve on several Ethics Committees, and Andrew Alexandra worked with The Australian College of Ambulance Professionals.
Other Program Highlights
In addition to a very large number of seminar presentations in a wide range of countries, this year saw the publication of two significant books by members of the Program. Edward Spence, Ethics Within Reason: A Neo-Gewirthian. Approach, is a major study of the work of the influential applied philosopher, Alan Gewirth. Tom Campbell, Rights: A Critical Introduction, examines the strengths and weaknesses of addressing social and political problems through the discourse of rights. Ed Spence did much to publicise the work of the Program through his many newspaper articles, broadcast interviews and dramatic performances.