Business is not just about power and profits. It is also an arena where people interpret the meanings of their lives. Pava argues that organizations can satisfy not only basic human needs, but high-level human aspirations as well. His book is meant to help us recognize the central role of business in our culture and to think systematically about the ethics inextricably entwined in that role. Pava eschews the dominant perspective of business as a commodity and suggests instead what he calls a meaning-based perspective. He integrates the best in business ethics theory with anecdotal and scientific evidence and illustrates his argument with references to ethics cases and the outputs of popular culture, literature, and movies. Elegantly written, the book demonstrates that business ethics is not about following a set of onerous nit-picking rules; ultimately it is about creating and sustaining meaningful work environments, without sacrificing the perfectly legitmate concerns of the bottom line.
Pava says that the dominant perspective on business can be described as commodity-based. That is, the corporation is merely a tool. Pava takes a different view, which he calls the meaning-based perspective. He argues that while corporations do and always will produce goods and services, they are also locations where human beings seek and try to interpret the meaning of life. Besides offering this alternative vision of business and business ethics, Pava poses seven highly practical but critical questions: (1) What is business ethics, anyway? (2) How do ethical decisions happen? (3) How fair is fair? (4) Do corporate outputs satisfy human needs? (5) Is there a role for religion in business? (6) Can business ethics be measured? (7) Do meaning-based organizations really exist? The result is a readable, challenging contribution to the literature on management, business and society, and business ethics.