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Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

Key Definitions

Business Ethics: moral guidelines for the conduct of business based on notions of what is right, wrong and fair. Most business people rely upon their own consciences in making business decisions, falling back upon their own moral and religious backgrounds for guidance. However, business people are also affected by their superiors and immediate colleagues when making business decisions and may feel pressurized to behave unethically when seeking to make profits. Over recent years many firms and industries have attempted to develop codes of conduct which can be used to guide managers when making decisions.

Corporate Social Responsibility: a business philosophy which stresses the need for firms to behave as good corporate citizens, not merely obeying the law but conducting their production and marketing activities in a manner which avoids causing environmental pollution or exhausting finite world resources. Some businesses have begun to behave in a more socially responsible manner, partly because their managers want to do so, and partly because of fear of environmentalist and consumer pressure groups and the media, and concern for their public image. It is argued that socially responsible behaviour can pay off in the long run, even where it involves some short-term sacrifice of profit.

SOURCE: Collins Dictionary of Business (2006).

Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

From accounting scandals to pollution to executive compensation, Business Ethics has always been a hot topic. It is related to the broader field of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), plays a role in ethical investing and may or may not influence sustainable (“green”) business as well.

This guide provides links to some key resources in these subjects. Please explore the tabs at the top of this guide.

Related research guide: Business

Useful Search Terms

Accounting – Moral & Ethical aspects

Business Ethics

Corporate Social Responsibility


Business – Environmental aspects

Business – Moral & Ethical aspects

Business – Social aspects

Economics – Moral & Ethical aspects

Finance – Moral & Ethical aspects

Management – Moral & Ethical aspects

Social Responsibility of Business

Liaison Librarians

Qing Liang, Helen Attar's picture
Qing Liang, Helen Attar
Qing: 8313 3863
Helen: 8313 5345

Level 2
Barr Smith Library
University of Adelaide