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After the corporate collapses of Enron, Swissair, Daewoo Group, WorldCom, HIH, Oneself etc the talk about ethics in business matters has become nearly as clamourous as making profit.2 Companies, universities, law schools, newspapers and politics focus on ethics in a distinctive way. Therefore, it is not surprising that the World Wide Web is full of guidelines, reports, ethical fitness seminars and advice as to why and how company directors should act ethically (Google shows 5,110,000 results ‘for director ethics’ and 28 Mio. results for ‘business ethics’). A whole business ethics industry provides help to develop ethical behaviour. The mission of this industry is, ‘to promote ethical behaviour in individuals, institutions, and through research, public discourse, and practical action’.3 It remains unclear what ethics in business matters means, however. The aim of this article is to analyse (a) the demand of more director ethics in the lights of classical philosophy, (b) the search for new ethical guidelines for directors and its reasons and, (c) the main elements of director ethics in the post-Enron-era.
This document has been peer reviewed.