Trust Is a Must In the eyes of employees, investors, clients and the public at large, honesty is the only policy that will do.
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Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations is perhaps the most famous book about economics. But it gets short shrift at his grave in Scotland. The father of capitalism's tombstone gives another book top billing, as is appropriate. He always felt The Theory of Moral Sentiments was his more important work.
Smith took trust and ethical behavior seriously. Perhaps the leaders of Arthur Andersen, Enron, WorldCom--and who knows who else by the time you read this--missed that part of history class. Thanks to their inattentiveness, other executives are relearning how much trust matters.
"We've got it wrong when we say business is business, and [it] has nothing to do with ethics," says R. Edward Freeman, who teaches business ethics at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville. "Adam Smith thought that markets wouldn't work unless people wanted to do the right thing."