Understanding The Dilemman Of Ethical Decision Making

6423 words - 26 pages

Understanding the Dilemma
of
Ethical Decision Making

Understanding ethics and utilizing ethical business practices are key to the success in modern business. Traditional business organizations must take into consideration many more aspects of business today, than in the past when the focus was primarily on profits and making money for the shareholders. These ethical principles also influence non-profit and government organizations as well, taking into account the same ethical considerations that for profit organizations deal with. The modern concept of ethical organizations takes into account many issues, some of which include:
• corporate social responsibility
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Ethics in my opinion is the objective actions taken by an organization which support its goals, while taking into account its actions and how they affect all stakeholders and attempting to do no harm to any stakeholder. This is a very grandiose idea, but to be ethical in the modern world is a grandiose endeavor.

To many a simple definition of the word ethical is treating others fairly. This definition is very subjective in nature. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says “involving or expressing moral approval or disapproval, or conforming to accepted standards of conduct (ethical behavior).” Morals and morality appear commonly in attempts to define what ethical means, although given the difficulties of defining the word morality without using quite subjective terms, this is very helpful. Morality incidentally is defined in Webster’s as “conformity to ideals of right human conduct...” Neither definition is very helpful to fully understand what ethical means, because they are both subjective in nature.

In a practical sense, besides anything that is covered by law or rules or other regulations, for something to be considered ethical by people, cultures or societies it is most of the time a matter of opinion. The same might be said of morality. Both concepts - ethics and morality - are subjective and a reflection of society and civilization, which of course implies that precise meanings will change. Both are relative in time and to a given situation. Mintzburg (1983, page 50) discusses the diversity and changing nature of social norms that derive from new economic and social situations: “Every society of culture contains a whole set of social norms, based on its particular history, religions, philosophies, and the nature of its people and the problems they have faced…. While social norms may appear to remain stable being based on long traditions, in fact they are in a continual state of evolution.”

Some ethical issues are covered by the law. Ethics issues not covered by the law are usually a matter of subjective judgment. Such a vague way of judging whether something is ethical should not in anyway diminish the importance of ethical factors. In work and life, opinion can be more influential than law, primarily in relation to people's attitudes. The law can actually have a theoretical or marginal effect, whereas large scale opinion is an unavoidable reality. For example it is unlawful to speed on our highways. However many people consider it to be ok and do it everyday. This demonstrates that people’s attitudes and opinions on an ethical issue are in reality more powerful than the law. Our laws are a reflection of what society considers to be acceptable, not a cause of them. An example is the on going energy crisis affecting the United States. The large energy companies have been operating within the legal confines of the law. However throughout the United States the common people are looking at the huge profits that energy companies have...

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