Re-Thinking the Role of Business Decision-Makers in Contemporary Society
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
Dr. Martin Kelly
Joint Chair, Waikato Management School, The University of Waikato
Dr. Ruth Walker
Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, The University of Waikato