Monash University
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Business ethics and prospects for restorative justice in selected commercial organisations based in Singapore

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posted on 2017-02-27, 05:45 authored by Abdul Rahim, Razwana Begum
This study explores the principles and practices of business ethics in commercial organisations in Singapore. It also addresses the potential of the concept, restorative justice as a feature of ethical practice in commercial organisations. Two research questions guided the study which were i) what are the principles and practices of business ethics in commercial organisations based in Singapore and ii) what is the potential of restorative justice in commercial organisations based in Singapore? The principles and practices of business ethics have become increasingly important in a globalised business world where ethics in business has been seen as critical in preventing malpractice and in ensuring organisational viability (Lin-Hi & Blumberg, 2011). A review of relevant literature regarding business ethics canvassed theories and ethical frameworks that influence the ethical practices of the leaders in their organisations, in particular relation to egoism, virtue-based, duty-based, justice-based, utilitarian and Confucian ethics. In the review, I have addressed the role of ethical leadership, ethical decision making, codes of conduct, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility in strengthening ethical business practice. I also canvassed the concept and practices of restorative justice, with its heritage in criminal justice. Within the review, the ways in which restorative justice values and practices have been incorporated and applied in the business sector in areas such as responsive regulation, organisational justice, consumer protection and workplace conflict were identified (Ayers & Braithwaite, 1992; Goodstein & Butterfield, 2010; Kidder, 2007). Using a case study methodology, cases of five commercial organisations were generated. The organisations were based in different business sectors within Singapore. The case studies highlighted the leaders understanding of business ethics, their principles and practices. The cases also drew on the organisations’ annual reports, product brochures and other publicity materials. The questionnaire data collected from the employees were also included in the case studies. Analysis supports the view that leaders in commercial organisations based in Singapore perceive business ethics as important. They agreed that business ethics contributes to organisational profit and organisational sustainability. Leaders adopted principles and practices around ethics that aligned with a mixed range of ethical frameworks. Their understanding of business ethics, however, reflected a combination of leaders’ ethical values and regulatory practices. Business ethics in their organisations were implemented mainly in the form of codes, rules and regulations. Compliance with rules and engagement in corporate social responsibility activities were commonly described as ethical business practices. However, these practices appeared to be driven by economic motives related to organisational profit rather than by a stance oriented towards social improvement. The leaders played a significant role in ensuring successful compliance with regulatory frameworks. The leaders’ ethical principles and values contributed to the management of regulations, ensuring compliance by the employees in following rules. The leaders’ values also contributed to the ethical management of clients, services and products. The values of restorative justice and associated practices were found in the five commercial organisations and appeared more prevalent in the area of employee management. As such, restorative justice in commercial organisations offered some potential application to strengthen ethical business practices. This thesis outlines the scope of current understanding and practices of business ethics in these commercial organisations. This thesis also points to areas in which future research may expand on these initial findings around business ethics and restorative justice in commercial organisations.


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Allie Clemans

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Faculty of Education

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