Ethical Decision Making in Business

In discussing ethics and morals as it applies to business and society, three words (ethics, morals, and ethical) will be frequently used. Ethics means the system or code of human conduct, with the emphasis on the determination of what is right and wrong. With these three definitions in mind, the next step is to apply them to defining ethical conduct (“Business ethics Law and Definitions” 2009). Ethical conduct, however, goes beyond legality and is more comprehensive. If Ethical behavior is legal behavior plus some other element, then it is important that this additional element be identified, if possible. Thesis ethics and codes of ethics are important for modern workplace, because they determine organizational behavior patterns and establish positive culture and relations.

Acting as the top level manager, I can say that ethics is crucial for workplace because it determines values and principles of organizational behavior. At first blush, many people will probably agree that this additional element is the collection of moral principles and values of what is right and what is wrong and what is good and what is bad, as determined by group behavior or by some member of the group. Following McNamara (2008): “The broad area of business ethics is “moral mazes of management” and includes the numerous ethical problems that managers must deal with on a daily basis, such as potential conflicts of interest, wrongful use of resources, mismanagement of contracts and agreements, etc” (McNamara 2008). Middle managers and employees should understand that for proper business and social conduct, these ethical standards and values must be shared by not only individuals but by the total business community and society as a whole. Without agreement by all parties involved, only legality exists to control the actions of everyone (“Business ethics Law and Definitions” 2009).

For every person in organization, it is important to recognize that ethics is a core of business philosophy and interpersonal relations. Without ethics, the company will fail to meet communication norms and will be unable to establish piositive human relations with partners and clients. Business ethics in the workplace is based on Christian moral principles and doctrines. The Judeo-Christian ethic is generally considered to be the foundation of Western ethical and moral standards. The Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule are firmly ingrained in this ethic as is the Protestant work ethic and faith, love, charity, fairness, and justice. The problem today is that much of this basic truth has either been distorted, corrupted or applied only under certain circumstances or to the other person. It is not difficult to get most people to agree with the Ten Commandments, or at least on Commandments 5 through 10; that is, to agree with them in general or as they might apply to someone else. They will agree that no one, including themselves, should steal someone else’s automobile; but, what about a pencil or pad of paper from work, making personal long-distance telephone calls on the company phone, padding the expense account, or taking home a company computer for their own use and “forgetting” to take it back (“Business ethics Law and Definitions” 2009).

Acting as the top level manager, I can say that most business managers and people believe in the Golden Rule and use it as their most important guide to ethical behavior. In simple terms it basically mandates people to treat others as they themselves would like to be treated. If you want to be told the truth then you tell the truth; if you want to be treated fairly, then treat others fairly. Since most countries and religions of the world have some form of belief that comes close to the part of the Golden Rule that relates to treating others as you want them to treat you, then in theory if properly adhered to it can personalize business relations as well as bring fairness into business. The only problems with this is that unless all parties involved also believe in and adhere to the Ten Commandments there may be marked difference in what constitutes fairness, love, charity, and justice between the parties whenever any exchange situation exists. Without a common foundation upon which to build, there are bound to be many differences and many problems (McNamara, 2008).

Acting as the top level manager, I can say that acting like the utilitarians and producing the greatest happiness for the greatest number, the situational ethics concept advocates acting in a manner that produces the greatest amount of love, fulfillment, and benevolence. That is, it contends that moral action is the one that produces the greatest amount of Christian love of all the alternatives available. Christian love as used here refers to the Greek “agape” love; agape love is totally unselfish love, epitomized by Jesus, who made the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind. In part, this is the concept that Kenny was trying to portray in his concept of self-donation. On the positive side, situational ethics humanizes business decisions and forces people to accept moral responsibility. In the area of weaknesses, it overemphasizes the concept of “love your fellow man, no matter what,” without clearly spelling out on what basis this love should be founded. Certainly if it is true Christian “agape” love, it should be based on the Ten Commandments and all of the teachings of Jesus Christ; in most instances this is not what is done (“Business ethics Law and Definitions” 2009).

In order to follow ethical and moral principles, modern corporations should adopt Codes of Ethics as the main moral guide for their employees. “A properly framed code is, in effect, a form of legislation within the company binding on its employees, with specific sanctions for violation of the code” (Codes of Ethics Law and Definitions 2009). The corporation and the staff should recognize that most professionals are already familiar with a system that acts very much like utilitarianism: cost/benefit analysis. In the cost/benefit system the manager attempts to balance the probable costs of taking a particular course of action with the probable benefits to be derived. Most business professionals realize that cost/benefit analysis becomes more and more sticky as the analysis moves away from measurability in terms of dollars. Measurement of benefits has been particularly problematic. ”Codes of ethics are free-standing expressions of corporate will even when they are published as chapters or sections in a document which may contain a mission statement, a listing of corporate values, and general policies relating to operations” (Codes of Ethics Law and Definitions 2009).

As the top level manager, I can say that writers on this subject have attempted to balance the costs of companies reporting on their adherence to social responsibility with the costs of not doing so. It seems to associate justice with efficiency rather than fair play); and it is extremely difficult to formulate and establish satisfactory rules of application. A more practical criticism centers around the difficulty of defining the probable benefits, called “utility,” and somehow summing them. Great disagreement may be generated over which consequences are in fact “good,” which consequences should receive greater or lesser weight, and what probability should be assigned to different future consequences. Modern critics of utilitarianism also note that ultimately utilitarianism must seek non-utilitarian answers on assigning boundaries and values around the measurement of activities (“Codes of Ethics Law and Definitions” 2009).

For me, as the top level manager, it is crucial to control and manage ethical behavior of employees in the Internet. Ethics is cyberspace becomes one of the most difficult and complicated tasks for legal professionals. The main problems deal with ethical principles and controls in the Internet. Technology and the Internet have changed patterns of communication and privacy concerns. The impact of technology implies that communication technology not only has an impact on people, but transcends all activities. Although the technological impact perspective provides insights into the determining aspects of technology, the actions of humans in developing, accepting and changing technology have largely been ignored by this group of researchers. On the one hand, technology improves communication process and allows people in different geographical regions communicate at low cost. In organizations, communication technology is a strategic enabler of one of the most basic tasks within organizations, namely information processing. In this case, it has to be viewed as a unique technological tool for organizations). Technology has a great impact on privacy and security issues. For the development of the self, privacy in communication is a fundamental requirement for the creation of true and lasting relationships. Users thoughts may one day be simulated, or at least stolen, by advanced computers (“Taking the Bite Out of Blogs” 2008).

The ethical corporation should recognize that stringent enforcement of such a policy must develop at the highest levels and be supported all the way down the organization. Internal enforcement action should be immediate, not simply a reaction to external discovery and prosecution. Closely related to legal compliance are moral and ethical standards. Political contributions, bribery, and other acts of conduct illegal in this country may not be illegal in other parts of the world (“Taking the Bite Out of Blogs” 2008). They fall into this category, as do areas such as proprietary information, product misrepresentation, disparagement, premature disclosures, acquiring or divulging confidential information, certain gifts and entertainment, and conflicts of interest. As the top level manager, I can say that developing a code of morals and ethics is not always simple. The frame of reference is large and sometimes complex. In cyberspace, consideration must be given to existing and proposed laws, Judeo-Christian values, family norms, society and industry as a whole, the firm, and the background and desires of owners, managers, and other employees. In spite of these complexities, a recent survey shows that most large and many smaller firms have codes of conduct that are distributed to offices and employees, who periodically must sign a statement that they have read the code. Further, these firms have specific procedures for enforcing the code and handling violations (“Taking the Bite Out of Blogs” 2008).

In sum, for business the benefits from cultivating the recognized virtues and ethical values among its younger members, since modern business will not long survive as a recognized profession if the public perceives that the pursuit of monetary gain is its only aim. Values and virtues are passed along in the business community through mentoring. Personal loyalty and friendship are paramount values here. As the top level manager I would say that in business environment the duty of fidelity will inevitably find itself in conflict with the value of promoting the best qualified. This may be accomplished by classifying each responsibility perceived by management as a corporate duty under the deontological framework of total impact relations. The primarily and secondary data prove the hypothesis that unethical behavior and practices in every profession are caused by inadequate codes of ethics and independence of business standards followed by many corporations.


  1. Taking the Bite Out of Blogs: Ethics in Cyberspace. (2008).
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