With business and commerce gaining global importance and becoming an inevitable part of the majority of people’s lives, the issues of ethics and morality come to the forefront of theoretical and practical attention. It is evident that any enterprise is initially aimed at gaining the maximum profit for the stakeholders involved in the business process; such practices are commonly cherished in businesses because of the indisputable importance of financial gains for investors.
However, with the aggressive managerial and expansionist practices utilized at the end of the 20th century, and a series of scandals in which the administration of large corporations was involved, the issues of preserving the positive public image, trust and loyalty of customers, and a good reputation have become considerably more important. It was understood that a company is first of all dependant on its consumers, and in case they feel they cannot rely on the company’s products, there is a wide range of substitutes from which they may choose. Involvement into trusting, ethical relationships that encompass all stakeholders, and not only the company’s management and community, have become essential for the successful functioning of business.
Despite the fact that ethics is being intensely discussed nowadays, managers are still getting involved into solving complex ethical dilemmas on a regular basis. The reason for such complexities is that managers are subject to multiple obligations, to compliance with the needs of both shareholders and the community. Since the interests of the former and the latter rarely coincide, managers are urged to make decisions that will reduce the risk of unethical behavior, and improve the company’s public image. As De George (2010) notes, the initial focus in business has been made on shareholders, but in the modern times the community becomes the main stakeholder in the business process.
Hence, such issues as moral obligations and corporate social responsibility become the key issues of concern for both responsible managers, stakeholders, and the owners of the company (De George, 2010). As one can see from the simulation Move From Being Right to Being Responsible, there are some situations in which the manager has to take multiple points into account before being able to make the decision. In addition, there are several lenses at which one can look at the dilemma. In case a manager utilizes the rights/responsibilities approach, he or she will use the rationality to make the right decision, while the utilitarianism approach dictates applying emotion to make everyone happy. The relationship lens ensures that the community makes the decision on the principle of equal human access to fundamental rights, while the reputation lens enables the manager to decide what virtue a good citizen might have to make the right decision (Move From Being Right to Being Responsible, 2010).
The ethical issues presented in the simulation involve making a decision on informing the customers about the low quality of the newly distributed product. The company producing sports nutrition and supplements, G-BioSport, finds out that the products they have sent for sales are hazardous for the particular categories of consumers because of the increased level of certain elements. Hence, the ethical dilemma involves choosing between the possibility of lawsuits and refund requests, and ensuring safety for consumers. Upon considering the alternatives, the decision is made to inform customers and to provide opportunities for replacement and refunds in case the product does not fit them. The decision surely entails certain financial losses for the company, but it nevertheless ensures a certain level of responsibility shown towards customers that will surely be appreciated (Move From Being Right to Being Responsible, 2010). The present ethical dilemma solution may be widely applied in the workplace in cases when the issues of financial profit and customer safety are involved. Earning money on the products of low quality is a very irresponsible activity, so such companies lose their position in the market once the truth is revealed.
The basic issue of morality towards customers is providing them with the fullest information on the product, helping them make informed decisions. The second ethical dilemma involved making a decision on whether to sell products of lower quality than allowed by FDA in the USA, in other countries where the legislation about product standards is not so strict. The decision depended on whether the legal requirements were considered only, or the company would still undertake to inform the customers that the product was imported in their country because of non-compliance with American standards. The decision was made to make discounts for the external market, and to provide full information on the possible hazards the product might have. The decision also contained less risk for the company’s reputation, as neglect of publicity on the issue of hazards would surely entail criticism both in the USA and abroad, and would surely spoil the image of the product and the company both in the domestic market and abroad (Move From Being Right to Being Responsible, 2010). The discussed decision is also highly relevant to the workplace practice worldwide, since there are globalization tendencies observed everywhere. It is not responsible to enter a foreign market on the principles of concealing the truth and using the holes in legislation not taking care of the country’s residents.
The fundamental rights of all human beings to safety and ability to get products corresponding to their purpose are inseparable all over the world, so it is immoral to use the markets of developing countries as a place to sell products that are forbidden in the domestic US market, e.g. spoiled goods, hazardous products etc.
De George, R.T. (2010). Business Ethics. (7th ed.
). New York: Pearson Education Inc. Move From Being Right to Being Responsible (2010). Retrieved October 21, 2010, from http://www.ethicsgame.com/Exec/CorpGame/CustomError.aspx