Does it work everywhere?

Philosopher Tom Morris points out in the Huffington Post that follow-through will be a key part of making the Oath work.

Congratulations to the Harvard Business School Class of 2009 for bringing all this to our attention in a vivid way, and for generated a new conversation about business ethics when we clearly need one. I’d love to be able to talk to each of those graduating students who signed the pledge, as well as those who didn’t, and follow them through the next ten years of their careers, watching what they do and how they do it.

The Economist, in its fantastic overview of the Oath, hints at the fact that the world is increasingly transparent, and that stakeholders are eager to watch what managers do and how they do it.

Don Tapscott, co-author of “Wikinomics” and “The Naked Corporation”, says that in today’s increasingly “transparent world, where every stakeholder has radar, accountability becomes a requirement for trust. In fact, for those who embrace it as a value, it is a powerful force for business success.” In addition, the financial crisis and the recession will doubtless spark more scrutiny of managers. So embracing a more sympathetic agenda may not be so naïve after all.

Several experts, including “Good To Great” author Jim Collins, are cited as agreeing that accountability is a prerequisite, not a detriment, to creating shareholder value.

The Jerusalem Post offers up a detailed critique of the Oath, finding its precepts at times innovative and at times controversial. The Post highlights the eighth element of the oath asks whether it would work in certain developing countries where authorities are reluctant to reform unjust laws and where much of the private sector operates underground, outside the letter of the law.

Although removing elements from the oath may make it more palatable to some audiences, doing so would clash with its goal of being aspirational. Taking an oath in an environment of flawed laws and practices may in fact be the first step in making it better.

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