Re-Thinking the Role of Business Decision-Makers in Contemporary Society

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We examine the role of business decision-makers in the contemporary world and the effects that business has on the lives of contemporary citizens. We argue that the business decision-making framework has been improperly focussed, and that its objectives must change if individuals, society and the natural environment are not to be damaged permanently. We investigate how the current situation evolved, and are critical of that evolution from a philosophical perspective. We argue that Aristotle’s ‘good life’ has relevance to the development of good business practices today. The ‘certainty’ that business people wish to permeate their environment is not available; choosing to ignore what cannot be measured with certainty can only lead to the adoption of an incomplete decision-making framework where sub-optimal decisions will result. We argue that attempting to conduct business for the sole purpose of maximising shareholders’ wealth will lead to disaster. We illustrate how the inability of accountants to bring comprehensive, ‘true and fair’ reports to business decision-makers is evident, and not denied by many accountants, but may often not be recognised by business people and others. We suggest that the best way forward may be for a ‘sustainable business’ decision-making perspective to be adopted by business people.


Keywords: Good Life, Business Decision-Making, Profit Maximisation, Sustainability, Philosophy in Management
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Re-Thinking the Role of Business Decision-Makers in Contemporary Society


Dr. Martin Kelly

Joint Chair, Waikato Management School, The University of Waikato
Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand

Martin is a member of the Australia & New Zealand Regional Committee of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, which meets regularly in Sydney. He is also a Chartered Accountant, New Zealand. He holds a doctorate in Accounting. He has published in excess of 100 academic works. He teaches courses in ‘Organisation & Society’ at both the final year undergraduate level and postgraduate level. These courses critically assess the use and abuse of Accounting in the contemporary business world. Martin has taught on MBA courses at: Waikato University, Massey University, and Leveun University (Belgium). His current research interests are: Philosophy of Management, Sustainability, Stakeholder Management, CSR and Business Ethics.

Dr. Ruth Walker

Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, The University of Waikato
Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand

Ruth Walker lectures in Philosophy at The University of Waikato. She has a special interest in Business Ethics and offers a course on this to second year students in Waikato Business School. In stepping out of the department of Philosophy to do this she has made contact with many staff in the Business School and has enjoyed arguing with them about the contemporary role of business in society. This paper is the output from one such set of arguments with her co-author.

Ref: I08P0128