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Book Review: Business Ethics: A Contemporary Approach

Book Review: Business Ethics: A Contemporary Approach

Book Review: Business Ethics: A Contemporary Approach

Business ethics by Gael McDonald is a contemporary informational book in which several topics have references on historical, ethical cases while including current business context. I have heard a lot of great things and commentary about Gael McDonald’s writings. Colleagues and friends have told me that his unique focus on addressing issues and writing style is easy to follow. I was not disappointed with the outliers with the book. McDonald (2014) strategically tackled the subject of business ethics: a contemporary approach. The book introduces readers to major ethical issues and decision-making in contemporary settings (Ferrell et al., 2019).

Through case studies in business ethics, McDonald (2014) presents an increased awareness of several ways in which ethical issues or considerations might manifest in the corporate world, thereby preparing students for their future careers. McDonald (2014) does a substantive job in introducing business ethics and linking it to work in practice. The author uses several real-world business cases to reinforce business cases. In particular, McDonald (2014) presents business ethics in a particular way by drawing from recent emerging ethical issues and codes of behavior in different sectors. In addition, concerning business ethics, McDonald (2014) also presents a broader overview of cooperate social responsibility, stakeholder management, and sustainability and reflecting on a broader scope of business ethics in today’s world (Balak et al., 2020).

The book is divided into four parts. The first part is a business ethics overview that introduces business ethics, including ethical terminologies. The aim is to provide an introduction to business ethics and allow a precise understanding of the several factors that enhance ethical awareness in business. McDonald (2014) presents various theories about ethics, such as moral absolutism and Kohlberg’s theory of moral development to organizations. Various business case studies such as the Enron accounting scandal are presented to reinforce the understanding of ethical codes in organizations.

The second part of the book is business ethical issues. McDonald (2014) uses the second part to offer an in-depth understanding of ethical technology, human resource technology such as hiring and ethics, key ethical issues in marketing such as effects of understanding and language, and ethical issues in accounting and finance such as the Enron accounting scandal. In addition, the book presents a detailed analysis of financial entities and applicable ethical problems, ethical issues entrepreneurship, and operational of small businesses as well as international businesses.

The third part of the book is business ethical theory and analysis. The chapter presents a thorough discussion of ethical theory and decision-making in businesses. The last part is personal ethical decision-making in organizations. Although McDonald (2014) has presented a worthwhile discussion on business ethics, key areas are of great importance in the book. For instance, McDonald (2014) presents an in-depth discussion of ethical issues in financial entities such as banks and investment companies. Under this, the book presents in-depth discussions of major ethical concerns that affect accounting and finance firms. For instance, McDonald (2014) discusses how misrepresentation and inadequate financial reporting results in ethical challenges. In addition, McDonald (2014) also discusses how insider trading, conflicts of interest, money laundry, investments schemes, and how ethical investment practices could constitute major ethical issues to accounting and finance, and the need for leaders to focus on such areas.

McDonald (2014) also presents a discussion on ethical issues in entrepreneurship and small businesses. After reading the book, I have gained an in-depth understanding of how ethics apply to small businesses. For instance, I have been able to identify ethical characteristics of entrepreneurs, such as honesty and integrity in business deals. McDonald also presents ethical issues in international businesses. The author presents a detailed evaluation of major ethical issues within the international businesses such as international cooperate governors, cooperate citizenship, and other key areas such as product management. Lastly, McDonald (2014) presents an informative discussion on business ethical theory and analysis. Under this section, MacDonald (2014) discusses various theories that can help individuals make decisions when faced with ethical dilemmas. In particular, MacDonald (2014) discusses the teleological of consequential theories such as consequentialism and how they inform decision-making processes in organizations. McDonald (2014) also discusses nonconsequential theories in detail to ethical decision-making and how individuals can incorporate such theories to make decisions under various conditions.

McDonald (2014) also discusses virtue ethics and how they apply in business. This includes a discussion of values such as honesty and morality of a person that could constitute ethical decisions in organizations. McDonald (2014) argues that an individual who does not have a specific time for resolving ethical dilemmas may experience challenges in reaching the optimal best decisions in organizations. McDonald (2014) identifies honesty, courage, generosity, compassion, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control, and prudence as some examples of virtues that an individual needs to make ethical decisions in businesses. Overall, the author has presented arguments on various topics in the book in an easy way. Major ethical issues in organizations have been discussed. Current business challenges and ethical dilemmas have been supported by previous case studies that have ethical dilemma (Joseph, 2020). This makes the book one of the best books on business ethics and its application to cooperate world (Raghupathi & Raghupathi, 2021). The book creates an increased awareness of several ways in which ethical considerations are likely to occur in businesses, thereby preparing students for their professional careers through an in-depth evaluation of key ethical issues in businesses.


Balak, N., Broekman, M. L., & Mathiesen, T. (2020). Ethics in contemporary health care

management and medical education. Journal of evaluation in clinical practice, 26(3), 699-706.

Ferrell, O. C., Harrison, D. E., Ferrell, L., & Hair, J. F. (2019). Business ethics, corporate social

responsibility, and brand attitudes: An exploratory study. Journal of Business Research, 95, 491-501.

Joseph, T. (2020). Ethics in organization and management: The Application of contemporary

theories of ethical decision-making in global conditions. International Journal of Business Strategy and Automation (IJBSA), 1(3), 67-74.

McDonald, G. (2014). Business Ethics. Cambridge University Press.

Raghupathi, W., & Raghupathi, V. (2021). Contemporary Business Analytics: An

Overview. Data, 6(8), 86.

Sroka, W., & Szántó, R. (2018). Corporate social responsibility and business ethics in

controversial sectors: Analysis of research results. Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Innovation, 14(3), 111-126.

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