The Nature & purpose of business: exploring the alignment between managers’ perceptions and ethical corporate culture in selected Kenyan banks
Amisi, Elizabeth A.
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Scholars have maintained for some time now that ethics is an integral part of organizational and corporate culture. Culture is influenced by corporate statements, primarily by the mission statement of the organization which in turn is influenced by the business theory that a business subscribes to. This study sought to explore what business theories Kenyan banks quoted on the Nairobi Securities Exchange subscribe to, and to investigate the alignment between corporate statements and manager perceptions with respect to mission, aims of business and ethical values. The study employed a descriptive qualitative approach accomplished by studying corporate statements and interviewing senior managers of the target banks. From a managerial perspective, analysis revealed four themes with respect to the nature and purpose of business: Social responsibility, Profitability, Service to customers and Collaborative work. On the other hand corporate statements revealed that banks see Collaborative work, Profitability and Social Responsibility as the core aims of business. In this regard bank managers polled agreed with their banks position that social responsibility is at the core of the purpose of business. There was also alignment with respect to collaborative work being viewed as an important aspect of the nature of business. With respect to the most important business values, bank managers’ perceptions aligned with the banks aspirations of integrity and professionalism. Based on the frequency of business scandals these findings imply a need for further reflection on both the nature of business and the management of codes of ethics. It is evident that there is theoretically alignment between what banks and managers say, but this alignment is not clear in practice and this may be the reason why we continue to see unethical behaviour from employees. The study recommended a deeper look at the people component of business, specifically an expansion of the moral capacity of the people who constitute business on the basis that there is no way to improve an ethical organizational culture without first improving the individual persons who embody the corporation. The study recommended that business goes back to the basics to adopt the structure of the basic unit of society- the family. To the author’s knowledge, this research is the first study that has explored the alignment between corporate culture and organizational culture in Kenyan banks.