Business Ethics in His Book Corporation Term Paper

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Business Ethics

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In his book Corporation, Be Good! The Story of Corporate Social Responsibility William C. Frederick (2006) notes that the dichotomy that companies face impacts their ability for ethical decision making. In the 1950s and 1960s, executives relied on their consciences that were founded on religious and family values. However, ethical business problems in the 1960s and 1970s showed that an individual's conscience was not adequate. It was necessary to require a different skill set. "Even if you have a good conscience, it isn't easy to resolve the different problems that land on your desk. it's a different ball game, an enormous jigsaw puzzle to satisfy a range of stakeholders with conflicting interests and demands," he states. Frederick, as well as a number of other researchers, find that the business schools specifically and upper education in general are not adequately covering the topic of business ethics. Also, continuing scandals show that ethical concerns are not based on a few "rotten apples," but they are systemic issues that need to be addressed prior to starting a career. In addition, the connection between personal ethics and business ethics is blurry. Many ethicists and psychologists are negating the belief that humans can separte their private and work selves. "We'd like to think there's a crisp line that divides the behaviors we do outside of work and those we engage in at work," says David Gebler, president of Working Values, a business ethics and training company in Sharon, Mass. Yet Gebler and others say the line is growing increasingly blurry (Andrews, 2005). How a person acts in personal life is indicative of how he/she will act in business.

Term Paper on Business Ethics in His Book Corporation, Be Assignment

In two instances, one negative and one positive, I found that managers do not separate their external-to-work values and internal-to-work beliefs and actions. The first instance occurred when I was working part-time for a woman manager who was very self-centered, yet very insecure. Every decision she made was based on "what's in it for me?" Although she had her master's degree, she had jumped from one type of career to another, one position to another. She also was into control, because of her insecurities. It was necessary for everyone to follow whatever she said, regardless if right or wrong.

I was already working for the company when she was hired as my manager. She immediately took a dislike to me, since she sensed that I was secure about myself and would not be afraid to question her wrong judgments. She purposely created problems with my job with the hope I would quit. Eventually, she wrote three letters for my file regarding my work that were inaccurate at best and lies at worst. With these, she had grounds for laying me off, which she did. I was told by the state department of labor that my part-time status created too many difficulties for legal support from them. However, I could go up the ladder at the company and discuss the matter with the manager's supervisor, the board (since this was city-funded organization) and even the city.

What concerned me more about this situation was that this woman was not only unethical in her behavior but in some instances going beyond to illegal actions. She altered employee timesheets and, most often, padded her own timesheet. She and her supervisor would go out for long lunches and shopping (sometimes three or four hours) and she put this time down as "meetings." She had the option of coming or not coming in when the office was closed on Friday. She did not come in most of the time, but put down on her timesheet that she was present all day.

When I asked the other employees to back me up by talking to someone about this, they complained but were too scared of losing their jobs. I could not convince them that going in as a united front would be best and their work would not be in jeopardy. They continued to complain to each other, especially when they had to fill in for the manager who was not available. When I lost my job, I talked to a board member and found that this behavior was known by not only the board but higher ups in the city government. It was being ignored and condoned. There is a saying: "You can't fight city hall."

For the purposes of this paper, this situation showed that this woman could not divorce her unethical behavior outside and inside the job. There is an interesting article, (Anomie and Ethics at Work, Tsahuridu, 2006) that describes the type of behavior this manager demonstrated. Anomie, as defined by the sociologist Emile Durkheim, is a condition of breakdown of social values and a situation of demoralization. More recently, (Benn, 1988) stated that moral anomie is used in philosophy to explain moral lawlessness, a state where there is no freedom, but only a lack of orientation

Tsahuridu (2006) explored three organizations to see the impact of anomie at work, in order to see if a distinction existed in the levels of anomie between people's perception of the work and non-work in other words, whether individuals are more apt to feel more hopeless and helpless in their work or non-work life. She found that actions to face moral degeneration at work may not be effective until the effect of the work context on employees is well understood. Anomie appears to be an essential element that needs to be understood in order to better know why certain people make amoral decisions in the work context. In fact, the work situation exacerbates the anomie and perhaps making my manager worse. Ironically, she did treat me much differently in a social setting. Meanwhile, she is still in her job and I have another part-time position.

I had another part-time position in a corporation where my supervisor was completely the opposite. He was very sure of himself and his abilities, yet also acknowledged his shortcomings and turned to others' expertise when necessary. He believed in team meetings and decisions and an overall team spirit. His door was always open.

His personal life was similar. He was very community-minded and committed to volunteering and helping others. He was on several boards and was always busy with some activities both outside and inside the company. Although I cannot say for a fact that he did not do anything unethical, I never saw that he did. In fact, he would comment on articles or news that showed how other companies were caught by whistle blowers when doing something that harmed others. I also do not know to what extent he would go if he saw that someone else was doing something unethical or even illegal, especially if it would impact his job. He, like many employees, had a family and a house to take care of; he needed his job.

As for my own values, I have high expectations for myself and others. Unfortunately, not all my expectations are met -- not even with myself. I could have gone further with the situation with the first supervisor because of the illegality of what she was doing. However, due to the possible impact on my personal life and, of course, the cost of legal fees I did not do anything more. Also, I felt that I would be fighting an uphill battle, since others already knew about the situation and accepted it. There have also been times in the past when I have looked the other way or pushed my own personal values.

How can companies improve the ethical behavior of their employees? More important, is it possible to do so? An article by Beggs and Dean (2006) surveyed a number of educators at business schools about the value of ethics in the curricula. They found that the faculty recommended external forces as a remedy more often than increased ethics educational coverage to be the answer for the ethics issue and "conclude by proposing that neither legislation nor ethics education alone are complete when addressing widespread unethical corporate acts and offer a multifaceted approach to ethics educational opportunities" (p. 57). Another study by Desplaces et. al (2007) investigated college students to see the: (1) impact of ethics codes and practices on student perceptions of the institution's ethical culture; (2) impact of students seeing unethical behavior and pressure from significant others on moral reasoning and competence; and (3) effect on student moral reasoning and competence of faculty and students that discussed ethics in business core courses.

The authors of the Desplaces et. al (2007) study found that business courses on ethics, alone, are not enough. The organizations, themselves, have to model ethical behavior, as with my second supervisor noted above, and ensure they have the processes in place that will encourage and motivate ethical behavior. Once again, it has to be a top down involvement or else will not work. Such efforts on behalf of the universities and organizations to instill ethical behavior will probably not… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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