Business Ethics -- Al Parrish Thesis

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Business Ethics -- Al Parrish

It is often heard that someone stepped on corpses to get to a higher position. The basic translation of this statement is that good things are difficult to come by and that most of the individuals in high places might have, at one time or the other, gotten their hands dirty for the greater personal good -- the end justifying the means so to speak. While the breaches of legal stipulations bring about concrete repercussions, there are also some actions that are not illegal, but still do not bring honor to the doer.

These instances are most often referred to as issues of ethics. The singular noun is defined as a "general idea or belief that influences people's behavior and attitudes," whilst in its the plural form, the noun represents the totality of "moral rules or principles of behavior for deciding what is right and wrong" (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 2006). The aim of this paper is to prove the previous sayings right or wrong by taking the real life example of Al Parrish, a successful business man and by assessing his ethical conduct in his profession and success.

2. Background Information on Al Parrish

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The professional career of Al Parrish began in 1962 when he took a job as a busboy for Vance Hotels. In 1965, he was working and living in Seattle, but Walter Hickel recognized his talent and convinced him to move to Alaska and join his team at Captain Cook Hotel. The young Parrish accepted the offer and worked for Hickel for ten fruitful years, after which he moved to work for Bill Sheffield. At the Sheffield Hotels, Parrish served as vice president and later on as president. The company however merged with Holland-America Line-Westours Inc. In 1987, and Parrish stayed on for nine more years to serve as president of the newly formed entity. Despite the fact that he resigned his presidential position in 1996, he remained a loyal advisor on international affairs matters for Holland-America Line-Westours until 2002 (Alaska Business Monthly, 2006).

TOPIC: Thesis on Business Ethics -- Al Parrish it Is Assignment

Due to his high skills, abilities and strong commitment, Parrish came to occupy the highest managerial roles with various facilities within the hospitality industry. At age 36 however, he took a crucial step in his professional formation and decided to apply for a managerial position at Providence Health Systems in Alaska, the largest health care provider in the region. His role was that of serving as Vice President and Chief Executive Officer and his prominent strategy has been that of an intense focus on the people who were offering the services as the link between the hospital and the patients, as well as the main determinants of organizational success through customer satisfaction.

His ultimate objective is that of transforming Providence Health System in one of the best providers of healthcare services in the United States. "That personal choice, combined with the transition and taking on challenges of the heath care industry, has been among his more significant accomplishments of the past decade. It has been a tremendous learning curve for Parrish. Parrish is most proud of the achievements of the people who work at Providence, which has been providing health care to Alaskans for more than 100 years. He's committed to his new role and to making Providence Health System in Alaska one of the best health care delivery systems in the United States" (Alaska Journal of Commerce, 2004).

3. Ethical Issues with Al Parrish

The grown up Al Parrish recollects the difficult childhood spent in hospitals as his mother was fighting polio and the kindness of the nurses that supported him and his family through those thought times. Later on in life, whenever he or another family member was in need of medical assistance, he always felt that he could count on Providence Health Systems to offer them the best services at the highest possible quality. As a specialized business man then, Parrish felt that it was time to show his appreciation of the organization and join their team of professionals to further strengthen the company's position and make it a leading player within the North American healthcare industry.

As he joined their team, Parrish managed not only to increase the number of patients and the revenues of the organization, but also to improve the quality of the medical services offered, to the growing satisfaction of the customer base. "Now, as the chief executive officer for Providence Health System in Alaska, Parrish has been able to live out his dream of giving something back to the organization. During his tenure as CEO, Parrish has helped the not-for-profit health care provider expand to serve even more Alaskans" (Alaska Business Monthly). The desire to improve the facility's revenues is laudable from a business standpoint whereas the decision to improve quality of the services to the benefit of the population is laudable from an ethical standpoint.

Another highly ethical decision made by Al Parrish in his position as VP and CEO of Providence Health System was revealed through the diversification of the hospital's service offering. Similar to the previous example, the primary aim was that of increasing revenues for the healthcare facility, an action with a limited ethical importance, unless significant moral issues were raised. The second aim of the endeavor was however the ability to serve as many patients as possible. In this order of ideas, the diversification strategy revolved around the creation and/or improvement of various specialized centers, such as off-campus facilities, heart and cardiac centers, cancer center or the neonatal intensive care unit. From an ethical standpoint, this is a highly laudable initiative of Parrish.

The most important issue to consider in the ethical analysis of Al Parrish is the fact that he moved from the highly profitable hospitality industry to the not-for-profit Providence Health System. From an ethical standpoint, the movement can be perceived as both strength as well as weakness. The character of NPO (non profit or not for profit organization) means that the facility operates for a good greater that their own financial gains. The hospital does register revenues, but they do not distribute them to shareholders as the money is used to finance future endeavors (Fritz, 20009).

In this light of events, it becomes clear that Parrish stood on high moral grounds when he gave up the opportunities of increased financial gains in the for-profit entity and moved to a NPO. However, a second angle in the issue reveals a Parrish who formed himself as a professional in the hospitality industry, where his employers supported his development and skills. But the VP in which so many had invested did not stick around long enough to allow his employers to reap the benefits of their investments. From this standpoint then, the decision to join the team at Providence Health System seems rather unethical.

A final example of well implemented business ethics became obvious when the Alaskan community proved reticent to the hotel ran by Parrish prior to his managerial roles at the Providence Health System; at that time, the community members had declared that they did not want the hotel to be part of their daily lives. The vice president was unsatisfied by these comments, but recognized that the most adequate means of approaching the matter was that of identifying the business features that were displeasing the society and striving to improve in terms of these features. In his own words, "If the community doesn't really want us here, if that's really truly what they're telling us, then we need to reassess what we're doing" (Klein, 2002). This approach was an ethical one, but it came after immense struggle and efforts on the part of Parrish' organization to impose their values and their own way onto the community. When the latter however refused, the lone choice was that of doing the right thing by reassessing organizational operations, actions and attitudes.

It is without any doubt that he choice of addressing organizational features in a way that increased community satisfactions was the most adequate course of action at the time being. What must however be remembered is that Parrish made the final decision with a personal goal in mind -- he strived to convince the community that his organization was one with a positive effect upon the Alaskan society with the intent of promoting his business and removing community resistance. All in all, while the endeavors were laudable, the rationale behind it is more questionable.

Ultimately, it would appear that the successful career of Al Parrish has not been an unethical one and that the decisions he made were based on high moral values. Additionally, aside the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, the VP and CEO of Alaskan Providence Health System has also succeed due to the fact that he surrounded himself with highly capable individuals who could also distinguish between right and wrong and implemented the most suitable combinations of business success and ethical courses of action. In the actual… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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