Ethical standards originate and develop from the following sources :
(i) Societal Attitudes : Decline in society’s norms as reflected in greater emphasis on permissiveness, decline in the influence of family and orientation towards quantity as opposed to quality tend to lower ethical standards. Emphasis on public disclosure and media information increase awareness and consciousness creating or at least enforcing existing ethical standards. Society is becoming less independent as individuals become more oriented to groups. Groups establish norms which can have a significant impact on individual behavior. But these differ from group causing conflict and confusion concerning which standards should be followed.
(ii) Competitive Pressures : Our economic system is built on two fundamental concepts of efforts and competition. The essence of these beliefs is that working hard and outperforming others in achieving goals will be rewarded with high levels of success. In recent years, however, ‘wining at all cost’ philosophy has become prominent. This philosophy tends to substitute unethical practices, e.g., cheating for hard work. For example, business firms often make questionable claims in their advertisements in order to outperform their competitors.
(iii) Legal Environment : The legislative environment is confusing and full of loopholes, Legal interpretations and entanglements often make it difficult for managers to know exactly what course to take or what decisions to make. Even then law affects ethical behavior. Many a time what is considered ethical is made law.
(iv) Code of Ethics : Code of conduct serves as a guide to all members of the profession or industry. A code of ethics requires and prohibits specific practices. It that the company is fully committed to meeting its standards and asks them to incorporate these standards into their daily activities. Codes of conduct have been developed in medical, legal and accounting professions. There is, however, no universal code of conduct to guide managers.