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Business Ethics a Contemporary Approach | Book Review

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 1578 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Business Ethics a Contemporary Approach Book Review


Gael McDonalds explains business ethics in her book by including current examples of ethics by using movies, videos, satirical comics and blogs to support the topic, theory and research.   The book Business Ethics is written in a clever manner in which the author chose to share her knowledge making this book an easy read.   The books format helps the reader connect the text information to modern examples making the concepts easier to understand.   Gael McDonald is an established author, professor, researcher and currently the President of RMIT University in Australia.

Business Ethics a Contemporary Approach Book Review

Business Ethics by Gael McDonald is a contemporary informational book in which topics reference historical ethical cases while including current samples, quotes, satirical comic strips, movies and YouTube links.  The book begins with an overview of what business ethics is and then explores ethical business issues.  Some of the topics it discusses involve the growing world of technology, marketing aspects and responsibility.   Although technology seems to give businesses a positive and optimistic outlook the importance of ensuring security features are outlined.   The book also addresses corporate social responsibility, stakeholder management and sustainability, reflecting the broad scope of business ethics today.

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To maintain ethics and morale to the highest standards, in addition to McDonald teachings, Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ahmed Qadri, explains that there are many different principles that are involved in leadership that a good leader follows. Through these principles a leader learns more about himself, about his followers, and about how to achieve the goal and benefit everyone involved.  Effective leaders provide inspiration, motivation and clear direction by ensuring a vision and a plan. 

Business Ethics by Gael McDonalds, e-book includes comprehensive online resources available throughout the book and at the Cambridge University homepage.  When reading the e-book, as you read the text there are enabled links that the reader can select to get a further understanding or clarification.   On the Cambridge website, it also provides student resources including additional review questions and case studies, with answer guides, to help students reinforce learning and prepare for assessment tasks.  Moreover, it provides instructor resources such as an extensive set of tutorial exercises, PowerPoint slides and a test bank of assessment resources.

The philosophy of the book is reflected in its title: Business Ethics A contemporary approach.  In the dedication page (p6) the author expresses the following: “To my husband Collin and children James and Tess – my world is so much better because of you.”  She also gives gratitude to all who assisted her in her research and helped her make this book possible such as Dr Jade McKay, Natalie Gallagher, Bridget Ell just to name a few (p17-18).

Gael McDonald is the author of Business Ethics: A Contemporary Approach (2015 Cambridge University Press) and is the co-author Postgraduate Business Research: Surviving and Thriving (Cooksey and McDonald 2011 Tilde Press) and Organizing an Academic Conference: Guidelines for Scholarly and Academic Success (2014 Tilde Press). She has also published widely in academic and professional journals and consulted in the private sector.  Professor McDonald’s experience as an educational leader in Australia and internationally is leading foreign-owned university in Vietnam.  She commenced as President of RMIT University since 2014. Previously, she was Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Business and Law at Deakin University and Secretary of the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC).  Professor McDonald has a Bachelor of Business from Massey University, New Zealand, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Western Australia, and her Doctorate was obtained from The London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom (RMIT University 2016).

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Gael McDonald compares her reasons for writing this book to the movie the “The Bucket List” in the preface.  She describes how the book idea came about, when she was asked to write the book by Cambridge University, she was reluctant to say no but instead said yes since ethics was her favorite subject and always wanted to write a book (McDonald 2015 p12). 

In the Preface she also explains the type of audience the book was intended to be written for: those who have little or no prior exposure to ethics. The author provides the reader options of how to read the book.   The format that the book is written, the reader has the option to read it sequentially or jump from chapter to chapter or part to part.  The clever manner in which the author chose to share her knowledge by using a variety of text features including visuals makes this book an easy read.   McDonald is able to help the reader connect the text information to modern examples making the concepts easier to understand.  

One of the many people she uses as examples in her book in Chapter 11 is Andrew Wilkie. “Andrew Wilkie, an independent member of the Australian Federal Parliament, and previously an intelligence analyst, is probably one of Australia’s best-known whistleblowers. He resigned in protest after he accused the Prime Minister, John Howard, of misleading the public in regard to the Iraq war (Allard 2012).”

Like Gael McDonald, Askew, Beisler, and Keel (2015), discuss cognitive moral development to be a common determinant of one’s behavior, which is linked to ethicality.  As such, moral development requires close examination in order to predict unethical decisions.  A person’s character or level of integrity offers a means of understanding thoughts about how the person perceives unethical decisions. The connection highlights the importance of moral development as it relates to understanding unethical behavior.  When ethical intentions are known, predicting unethical behaviors follow. For example, if it is known that an employee intends to cheat to gain success, the company may take actions to prevent unethical behaviors. Further knowing ethical intentions prior to offering employment allows companies to make appropriate hiring decisions.

One of the qualitative researches, that Gael McDonald conducted along with Maree Gladwin and Jade McKay (2014) argued about the factors that contribute to academic success.  The study concluded that given recent changes in higher education, university’s need to review policies and practice in order to provide an environment that will help attract and retain professors in the future.   In the finding and discussion all professors who participated were asked about their pathway into academia and their motivations for working in universities.  Like McDonald book, this study included ethics and the role of leadership.  

  • Munevver Cetin and F. Sehkar F. Kinik (2016), stated that for decades, educators have realized that school leaders are all responsible for student learning, as well as, student success. Therefore, the concept of leadership directly related to community gains is the utmost important.
  • Askew, Octavia A., Beisler, Jeffrey M. Keel, Jetonga (2015) Current Trends of Unethical Behavior within Organizations retrieved 2/17/19 https://clutejournals.com/index.php/IJMIS/article/download/9374/9453
  • Cetin, Munevver F. and Sehkar, Kinik F. (2016), Effects of Leadership on Student Success through the Balanced Leadership Framework Universal Journal of Educational Research 4(4): 675-682, 2016 retrieved 1/20/19 URL: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1094708
  • Gladwin, Maree, McDonald, Gael and McKay, Jade (2014) Conversations with professors: an exploration of career success, Higher education review, vol. 46, no. 3, Summer 2014, pp. 26-51. Retrieved http://dro.deakin.edu.au/eserv/DU:30065620/gladwin-conversationswith-2014.pdf
  • McDonald, Gael (2015) Business Ethics A contemporary approach Port Melbourne, Australia Cambridge University Press.
  • RMIT University Vietnam (2016) retrieved 2/17/19 https://www.rmit.edu.vn/profiles/presidents-executive/gael-mcdonald
  • Qadri, Dr. Muhammad Ahmed (2016), The Concept of Applied Leadership in the Contemporary World Journal of Education and Practice ISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) Vol.7, No.4, 2016 retrieved 1/20/19 URL: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1092362.pdf


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