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Beyond the Strategic Scorecard and the Triple Bottom Line is the Need for Ethics

By Robert Williams


In the last decade, there has been a radical shift of thinking on how to measure business performance. The Strategic Scorecard (SSC) and The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) have created other measures of performance that focus on environmental quality and social justice. Despite the above radical thinking, business failures, financial scandals and unethical business behaviour continue unabated. This paper concludes that the reasons for this include that the TBL and SCC have not adequately addressed ethics, that profit is seen as the only goal of business, that ethics is only seen as relevant if it aids profits, and that legalistic societies marginalise ethics. This paper argues that something more fundamental is needed to address this malaise; that something is ethics. Individuals are compelled by reason to act ethically, that is, to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do and to respect all individuals. Further, businesses are merely manifestations of individuals and therefore individuals in business must also act ethically. This paper demonstrates two paradoxical conclusions. First, in one sense, ethics is the bottom line for individuals when dealing with any action in the class of moral actions. Second, while the bottom line for business is business, business still must act ethically. Therefore, in this more general sense, ethics is beyond the bottom line, but is needed to underlie how business should be conducted

Year: 2011
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