The issue of ethics deals with choices which are essential. The set standards for carrying out business are referred to as business ethics. These set standards in most cases characterize a system of values that guides the operation of a business in the marketplace as well as within the business. To be more precise, the principle of ethics entails finding out what can be said to be wrong or right and then choosing the right thing. Therefore, in the context of business, ethics is concerned with knowing what is wrong and right at the place of work and doing the right thing. Notably, paying attention to ethics is very essential for both leaders and the workforce as it sensitizes these two parties on how they should act in certain situations. In some cases, these parties are sometimes encountered with ethical dilemmas, (Blanchard & Peale, 2000). In this case, ethical dilemma refers to difficult circumstances that involve an evident mental clash between moral imperatives; in most cases conforming to one would lead to contravening another. This is the case when one is faced with conflicting choices when making decisions. Ethical dilemmas usually occurs situations where either; doing what is morally right leads to a bad result or doing what is morally wrong leads to good results or better outcomes.
Arguably, ethical dilemmas are indispensable part of managing a business. At this point, it is important to note that some ethical challenges can affect a number of business organizations at a given point in time as they are universal, while other ethical challenges specifically occur in definite companies and industries. As mentioned above, the easiest way to identify ethical dilemmas in any business is by considering the choices that undertaken, between doing what can be said to be ‘right’ as well as ‘good’ for a business, (Marianne, 2005). It has been observed that many a times, ethical dilemma in a business set up occurs when making decisions that concern such issues as: the rights of employees, optimization of resources, management of technology, contemplation of downsizing in lean times, and sustaining appropriate working conditions as well products.
Marianne (2008) asserts that there are different causes of ethical problems or rather challenges in business, which eventually result to ethical dilemmas. Examples of such ethical challenges include: clash of goals of an organization with values of a personal nature, conflict of social goals with those of an organization, failure of personal character, as well as harmful, but popular products. Perhaps, the major cause of ethical dilemmas in most of business organization is failure of personal character. Many a times, organizations employ or rather recruit employees with detrimental character unknowingly, (Fernado, 2009). Qualifications and experience mostly forms the basis of recruiting employees in almost all the organizations. It is very easy for the recruiters to weed out undesirable individuals from a group of qualified individuals. However, it is not easy to indentify unethical characteristics in potential employees. Therefore, sometimes wrong people are recruited who later becomes a problem to the organization. If this happens to be the case blame should not be turned on to the organization.
As mentioned above, clash of organizational goals with those of a personal nature is another cause of conflict that leads to an ethical dilemma. This is the case for instance, when an organization pursues goals that are not acceptable to management. It is asserted that sometimes business organizations may turn to unethical practices as a result of severe pressure from competitors, and limited focal point on making profit. Hence, the personal values of a manager and the goals of the organization may lead to an ethical dilemma, (Marianne, 2008). The third cause of ethical dilemmas is the goals of the organization versus the values of the society. For instance, stakeholders may consider the activities of an organization as being unethical as a result of the changing social scenario. Admittedly, in fast-changing circumstances, an organization may find itself going not in favor of the changing values of the society. As such, the organization may be forced to adjust so as to ally with the change of social values so as to evade conflicts as well as dilemmas, (Marianne, 2005). Lastly, ethical dilemma may arise if there is a clash between organizational practices and personal beliefs. This mainly happens when the workforce of an organization is composed of multi-religious and multi-racial employees. Perhaps, when those in charge display secretly or publicly their religious attachment, it gives a wrong implication to the workforce as well as the public in general. There has been a cause of a number of ethical dilemmas in the past in most organizations.
It has been noted that resolution of ethical dilemmas within the business context is not an easy task, even with a well set code of ethics. A number of business academicians have come up with different models which can be of help in ethical dilemma resolution. To begin with, is the model that was developed by Peale and Blanchard. According to Marianne (2008), when faced with ethical dilemmas managers should take their time in figuring out the way out. Generally, focusing on finding answers to the following three questions may be very helpful. The first question that should be considered is: Is it legal? Before deciding on the way forward, legality of the activity to be undertaken has to be considered. One should determine whether by undertaking such an activity he/she will be violating any civil, criminal, or company policies, (Ferrell, John & Linda, 2009). It should be noted that there are rules and regulations that have been set for businesses to adhere to. Sometimes one is forced to decide on issues that touch on these set regulations and policies in some circumstances where conflicting options have to be considered. By setting legality of an action as the basis of decision making, one may be in a better position of going for or rather choosing what is considered as being the ‘right’ option.
Is it balanced? This is the second question that should be looked into. By answering this question, one will be in a position to determine whether all the concerned parties will take the decision to be made as being fair both in the long-term and the short-term. In this case, making the right choice between two conflicting options will create a win-win state both for the indirectly and directly involved parties. The last question that should be examined when faced with an ethical dilemma is, Is it right? It is true that most people are in a position to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong. But the effect on the feelings about oneself at the particular moment has to be taken into considerations. This can be weighed through determining whether one is proud of making such choice and whether he/she would like others to find out about the decision that he/she has made, (Blanchard & Peale, 2000). Arguably, when dealing with unclear decisions, considering one of the above questions may not be enough. In order to find a solution, one has to reflect on all the three questions intensively.
The second model that might be crucial in ethical dilemma resolution was developed by Laura Nash, (Marianne, 2008). According this model like the Peale and Blanchard model, there are questions that should be reflected on by managers in cases of ethical dilemmas. Such questions include: Questioning how you would view the issue from different perspectives, is it possible to discuss the decision with other parties such as friends and family, the mission to be accomplished with such a decision, and if you can feel comfortable about the decision over time as you feel today. From a general point of view, the Nash model aims at forcing managers to inquire about extra perspectives in evaluating and implementing decisions.
A good example of an ethical dilemma within the business context is “how can firms take advantage of cheap labor and benefits of flexile contractor affiliations, at the same time regarding the rights of workers”. Taking NIKE as an example, in response to this dilemma, the company ensures that it has created a conducive working environment so as to guarantee better results, both of ethics and the product. As such, NIKE Company is in a position to evade such an ethical dilemma and the workers would be enjoying their privileges and rights at the same time. It has been noted also that, the Company tries to be truthful in handling their ethical dilemma at the same time upholding their escalation, even though their profits may be small, (Fernado, 2009). This has been the key factors that have helped the company to maintain its reputation, hence, the trust of consumers.
Finally, as mentioned early, the issue of ethics generally deals with making choices. In most cases, business organizations have a set code of ethics that guides the managers as well as the workforce in their actions within the organization. However, sometimes people are faced with conflicting choices in the process of making decisions, giving rise to an ethical dilemma. . Ethical dilemmas usually occurs situations where either; doing what is morally right leads to a bad result or doing what is morally wrong leads to good results or better outcomes. There are different causes of ethical problems or rather challenges in business, which eventually result to ethical dilemmas. Examples of such ethical challenges include: clash of goals of an organization with values of a personal nature, conflict of social goals with those of an organization, failure of personal character, as well as harmful, but popular products. Scholars have come up with different models which might be helpful in resolving ethical dilemmas. Such models include; the Nash model, and the Peale and Blanchard model.
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