Can business ethics be realistic? A discussion by Prof. Christoph Lütge

Prof. Christoph Lütge conducts research on business and corporate ethics at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and is affiliate member of TUM School of Management. Recently, Prof. Lütge was featured in an article published by the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine in which he highlighted some interesting themes about the viability of business ethics and wether expectations regarding the subject can ever be realistic. From privacy scandals to monetary “mishandlings”, the corporate environment has always been plagued by questionable ethics, chances taken in order to navigate an increasingly complex judicial mine field, perhaps it is time to develop a more realistic concept of business ethics, one that takes into account monetary constraints and market challenges faced by companies.

Media scandals and ethical faux-pas can damage the reputation of even the most successful and respected companies, examples such as the high fines paid by Volkswagen and Siemens come to mind, and more extremely, the recent scandals involving Cambridge Analytica and its quick descent into bankruptcy. Lütge suggests the creation of programs and/or management systems in order to identify and solve ethical problems within companies. A new direction within universities is also suggested as a means to educate potential executives on business ethics and its benefits.

Professor Lütge states many times throughout his article that a practical ethical measure within a company can also be seen as an economic move, saving companies enormous amounts of money in the long run, in his opinion, preparing future executives for these issues is equal to future-proofing our workforce. In his opinion, business ethics should mean to acknowledge the ethical possibilities of a company without forgetting its economical facet.







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