Honesty in Business HW Chapter 2
We MUST Lie. In The Invention of Lying, people cannot help but tell the truth because they cannot deceive. But, a kind and trustworthy society cannot function without deception of some sort or other. Without lying: No Kindness No Privacy No Power No Play No Games
We MUST Lie in Society. The fundamental question in the ethics of honesty is WHAT kind of deception is justified?
We MUST Lie in Business. In Business Ethics, we must also ask, WHAT kind of deception is justified? The central claim is that “poker” deception is the basis of deception in Business Ethics. (Carr)
Carr’s Argument: Business Bluffing is Ethical • Poker has a set of rules that protect privacy (of one’s hand), betting (relationship), secret strategy, etc. • Business has a set of rules (laws) that protect privacy, relationship, strategic secrecy, etc. • So, Poker is like Business. • Poker allows for bluffing, deceiving others about their own private holdings, relationships, and strategy. • Thus, Business allows for bluffing, deceiving others about their own private holdings, relationships, and strategy.
Is vs. Ought While Carr seems to be correct in his “poker business” analogy as a description of how things are in Business, perhaps they should not be that way. Business IS like Poker, but Business OUGHT not be like Poker.
Bowie: Business OUGHT not Bluff • Business is about maximizing profit BY COOPERATION. • Cooperation requires trust. • Trust requires honesty. • Thus, Businesses ought to be honest. Bowie claims that Business has a relevant difference from Poker in that it is a group-type of endeavor, requiring cooperation rather than competition.
Bowie’s context: Internal Cooperation, External Competition For Bowie, a Business ought to bluff (poker-like) against other businesses (externally), but not within its employees (internally). E.g. Labor relations should exhibit collective bargaining.
Summary: Business as Poker Any business must work cooperatively (collectively) to ensure a ‘happy’ process for a ‘happy’ product that maximizes profit (see last two classes). Each business is it’s own poker player sitting at the table of “Business Hold-em:” bluffing, deceiving, manipulating others while keeping your own hand, allies, and strategy a secret. In sum, to be good at business… …be good at poker (externally).
Two ways to be good at Business Poker • Know how to be externally competitive, internally cooperative. (Bowie) • Know the difference between “secret” and “private.” (Bok) • Know how to give and receive feedback: insider knowledge of the inside. (De Wine)
Secret vs. Private A Secret is any information intentionally concealed. One must hide it for it to have power. It usually relates to personal shame or social failure. All deceit requires secrecy. E.g. Hiding an illicit affair Private is any information protected from unwanted access. One need not hide it for it to have power. It usually relates to fiscal or personal security and has little moral bearing or relationship to deceit or honesty. E.g. Hiding one’s social security number
Secret vs. Private: A Moral Case You come across private information on someone’s ‘private’ social media feed. You think this information accounts for the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of their work ability. Do you tell your boss or retain this private information?
Secret vs. Private: A (related) Poker Case You come across private information on someone’s ‘private’ social media feed. They work at a competitor business. You think this information accounts for the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the competing business. Do you tell your boss or retain this private information?
Consultation: A Listener’s Ear • Two varieties of Consultation: • External “Competitive” Advice • Internal “Cooperative” Advice Two Varieties of Cooperative Advice: • Advice on personal behavior • Advice on social effects of personal behavior Three Varieties of Advice: • Evaluative (Critique) • Interpretive (Advocate) • Descriptive (Fact Report)
Poker Feedback Imagine that while you are playing a poker match, you could overhear the commentators “describe,” “critique,” and “evaluate” your play. Which of the three forms of advice would benefit you the most? Three Varieties of Advice : • Evaluative (Critique) • Interpretive (Advocate) • Descriptive (Fact Report)
Concluding Question • Is Poker really the most advantageous model for the business system? • Can you think of alternative “games” that might be more advantageous?