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Posted on April 1st, 2012, by

Business nowadays plays a great role in the lives of people, countries and the world in whole. It is like a game with its own set of rules, ethical standards, strategies and tactics. The role of Honesty in business is discussed in different articles and publication. Albert Carr explains his thoughts on this topic in his article Is business bluffing ethical? and Timothy Blodgett shows his view point in his response called Showdown on business bluffing’. So you can read a short summery of these articles below.

Albert Z. Carr wrote an article that is called Is Business Bluffing Ethical? in which he tried to discuss issues related to honesty in business. He supports the idea that the main in private morality is a respect for truth and the harder a businessman tries to be truthful and honest, the more he deserves to be respected. Author suggests that bluffing in business should be understood as game strategy, the same as bluffing in poker, and it doesn’t reflect on the morality of the bluffer himself.

Carr quoted Henry Taylor, the British statesman who said that falsehood ceases to be falsehood when it is understood on all sides that the truth is not expected to be spoken(Andrews. p. 99). This is also an exact depiction of bluffing in poker, diplomacy and business.

Blodgett disagree with this idea and says that on the contrary, nearly all day-to-day business is conducted verbally or on the basis of nonlegal documents. Economic system will collapse without mutual trust on a practically universal scale among businessmen (Andrews. p. 112).

At the same time, Timothy B. Blodgett doesn’t agree with Carr in the statement that business’s ethical standards differ from society’s and that deception in business is accepted and even indeed necessary if one is to succeed.

Blodgett brings up a lot of examples to prove his ideas, and quotes different people who also don’t agree with Carr, such as Rawson L. Wood, Chairman of the Board of Arwood Corporation, and Leon P. Chemlen who is one of the marketing staff of Dynamics Research Corporation (Andrews. p. 110).

Albert Carr wrote that many businessmen feel confused every day to say yes to their bosses at the time when they think no and this is generally accepted as allowed strategy when the alternative is to loose a job. An important thing is that the ethics of business is the same as a game ethics and it is different from the ethics of religion.

To support his idea, Carr gives an example, describing one businessman who believes that he doesn’t lie and cheat in business and that his ethical standards are of the highest. But at the same time this man doesn’t realize that he is keeping ethical standards of the business game, and they are far cry from those of private life. At the same time this businessman was allowing some his goods to be advertised in the way that made it look much better than it really was. And according to his words these thing had nothing in common with ethics, it was a usual business practice. Carr pays our attention on the point that the businessman himself was a good person who avoided falsehoods, but the company he ruled was involved in some strategies of deception.

As for me, I think that business sphere really creates a lot of situations when businessmen can’t act as they want, but need to do as it is needed, according to the rules, meaning to get bigger profit. Business rules and the ethical standards often suppose that businessmen have no other choice, but to lie and deceive, but this doesn’t mean that the personal qualities of a man are out of morality.

I agree that most executives are nearly forced, in the interests of the companies, to deceive while negotiation with customers, labor unions, dealers and even other departments of their company. Practicing some form of deception, or bluffing they make others to agree with them.

I think that a lot of businessmen can’t reconcile themselves to the bluff, in which they play a part. Their conscience, supported by religious idealism, troubles them, they feel guilty. Before any executive can create a profitable use of the bluff strategy, he should be sure that his self-respect will not be lost in bluffing.

Carr is sure that this game is played at all levels of corporate life, from the lowest to the highest (Andrews. p. 101). As soon as a man decides to enter the business, he is forced into a game situation. The author gives several examples of this situation; one of them is the follows. A good magazine space salesman who is 58 loses his job.

Even if he has good recommendations, his chances to get a new job somewhere else in business were miserable.

He was a good looking man and only grey hair could tell the truth about his age. He decided to dye his hair in black. So in his resume he wrote that he was 45. This was a lie; yet within the accepted rules of the business game, no moral culpability attaches to it.

Timothy Blodgett in his article Showdown on business bluffing’ disagree with Carr’s statements and represents the views of people who don’t support Carr’s ideas as well. Here is what L.D. Barre, a Vice President-Marketing in RTE Corporation writes: I think a better strategy in business is to work hard, be honest and be smarter than anyone else (Andrews. p. 111.)

Albert Carr is sure that we can learn more about the nature of business if we compare it to poker. When all players of a game have a chance to win, the winner is the man who is more skillful (Andrews. p. 102.). I support his idea that in both these games victory requires intimate knowledge of the rules understanding of the psychology of the rest players, some necessary quantity of self-discipline and the ability to act effectively and wise according to opportunities provided by chance.

None expects poker to be played using ethical principles preached in church (Maddux. p. 45).In this game you have a right to bluff a friend and not to be judged so strictly. Carr is sure that poker, the same as business has its special ethics, and he is not referring to rules against cheating. The man who marks the cards is a crook. Poker has its special ethics and it has nothing in common with cheating. So the unethical poker is a player who, while abiding all rules, finds ways to put other players at an unfair situation (Andrews. p. 103.)

We all need to understand that most businessmen care a lot about ethics in their private lives, but in their office lives they can’t be private citizens; they become business game players who should be guided by somewhat different set of ethical rules.

So analyzing these two articles we see that there are different viewpoints on the same topic. As for me, I agree that there is more dishonesty in business than in ordinary life, because the business world is more competitive. But I am not sure that deception and dishonesty in business should be considered acceptable. I believe that ethical standards that apply in business shouldn’t be very different from the ethical standards that apply in ordinary life.

Businessmen should try to play honest game that is called business.

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