Research Proposal: Ethics in Management

Pages: 55 (17336 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 30  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Ethics  ·  Buy This Paper

Ethics and Management

Management and Ethics

In this paper, the author investigates the ethics of business management. After reviewing the literature to determine the concerns mentioned by business ethicists, the author compares those concerns with the concerns of a small business man, as revealed in a case study. The first part of the case study involves a covert participant observation of the ethical practices of a privately-run small business. The second part of the case study consisted of an interview with the small business owner, to determine whether or not he perceived ethical conflicts in the course of his business, and the nature of any ethical conflicts that he perceived. Finally, the author compared the ethical concerns described by the business scholars and commentators to the concerns described by the small businessman. While the nature of the concerns was overlapping, the small businessman's concerns seemed more personal than the concerns noted by the scholars and commentators.

Introduction

Literature Review

Methodology

Findings

Discussions

Conclusions

Management and Ethics

Introduction

It is not a surprise that managers and companies at all different levels find themselves increasingly concerned with ethics. Ethical scandals around the globe have shaken consumer confidence in big business, caused tremendous hardships for both the employees and the shareholders of the impacted companies, and created consequences that continue to reverberate through the business community. However, ethical scandals are not only billion-dollar affairs like the U.S. Enron scandal. On the contrary, ethical scandals can erupt in any size corporation and at any level in the workplace. The reality is that while those scandals may attract vast amounts of media attention and have almost unimaginable financial consequences, most people are probably not going to be directly impacted by an ethical scandal of that magnitude. However, that does not mean that people are unlikely to be touched by ethical scandals. On the contrary, people in industrialized nations do business with a huge variety of different entities in a tremendous variety of different types of businesses, and they are likely to be personally impacted by corporate or business ethics during their lifetime.

Because they have seen scandals destroy people's lives, consumers have responded by demanding increased government regulation of both big and small businesses. This increase in government regulation has made some practical differences in the way that businesses are run around the world.

However, government regulation can only provide so much protection from unethical business practices, because what is ethical is not the same as what is legal. Furthermore, these different regulations can happen in different jurisdictions, and regulations may compete and conflict, making it more difficult to determine the ethical decision when faced with dilemmas. In fact, it is possible that the successful resolution of an ethical dilemma will requires a person to ignore or violate a law. Therefore, from a consumer's point-of-view, it seems clear that business people should be aware of areas of potential ethical conflicts, not simply the law.

As important as ethics may seem to the consumer, it is difficult to understand why not everyone believes that business students should be required to study ethics or that ethics are an important component of modern business. Many management educators, scholars, and businesspeople are skeptical regarding the efficacy and appropriateness of ethics-themed education as part of the business-school environment. Like many laypeople, some scholars believe that people are either inherently ethical or unethical, and that education cannot change someone's basic nature. It may be true that, if initially presented with clear moral dilemmas, people could rely upon their personal judgment to make the ethical choice. After all, at least within cultures, moral and ethical values are relatively consistent. That consistency means that the majority of people are going to come to the same conclusion when faced with a clear ethical dilemma.

However, the problem is that moral dilemmas are rarely black and white.

On the contrary, most ethical dilemmas pit the interests of one party against the interests of another party, so that making a decision requires one to evaluate the relative merits of the claims of each party, the relative benefits to each group, the relative harms to each group, and, because it is business, the financial concerns associated with each choice. As a result, even the most seemingly simple ethical issues are actually incredibly complex, making it possible for even the most ethical and conscientious of people to make a mistake. Furthermore, the complexity of ethical decisions seems to grow as businesses grow, because the larger the business, the more people that are directly involved in each ethical dilemma, and the greater the direct impact of each unethical decision.

In addition, it is essential to remember that there are a tremendous number of issues that can impact ethical decision making. It is impractical to think that one can be educated to anticipate all possible ethical issues, or educated to understand all of the issues that come into play when dealing with typical ethical issues. After all, many of these issues operate on a subconscious level, so that people may not take the opportunity to integrate them into their decision-making processes. For example, every ethical decision made by a person is going to include a person's ethical and moral viewpoint, which is shaped by ethnicity, culture, background, religion, gender, and societal expectations. No amount of education can entirely remove a person's background or change their core beliefs about moral and immoral behavior. However, ethics-based education can make people more aware of how their personal histories help guide and shape their own ethical decisions, and make them more likely to consider other viewpoints when making ethical decisions.

To understand how personal background can impact ethical decisions, one need only look at the tremendous changes that business has faced in the last century. Only about 100 years ago, the face of Western business was male and it was Caucasian. Not only was it considered ethical to only deal with other Caucasian males, it may even have been considered unethical to do business with diverse people. Furthermore, people did business in a different manner. There was an absolute lack of regulation for the majority of businesses, and the building of monopolies and other seemingly unethical practices were not necessarily recognized as such. Instead, it was with the huge growth of business that accompanied industrialization that many discovered how unethical big business can be. However, the introduction of diverse groups of people into the business environment has helped transform the face of business.

For example, the introduction of women into the workforce is relatively recent, and that has changed the ethical environment of business. First, it has introduced the area of sexual-harassment, and revealed some tremendous gender-based power disparities, which must be considered in today's mixed-gender workforce. However, it has also revealed some more subtle gender differences, showing that men and women may approach an ethical dilemma in different ways, coming to different conclusions, even if they share other cultural traits. Therefore, gender can impact ethical decision making both through the introduction of bias and through the introduction of different points-of-view. When people do not understand the dual impact that gender can have on ethical dilemmas and ethical decision making, they risk making an unethical choice simply due to ignorance.

Like gender, culture and cultural background, including ethnicity, tradition, and religious background, can both have a tremendous impact on ethics. Different cultures have different values and different norms, which can result in different expected resolutions to an ethical dispute. The impact of Different cultures is only going to increase in the future because of the increasing globalization of the economy. Of course, the globalization of business is nothing new; Western countries have been involved in global colonization for over 1,000 years.

What is new is that Western countries and companies are now approaching global interests in a different manner, and are really beginning to do business with people in a non-colonial manner. Those companies that have not embraced a more globally friendly perspective face adverse consequences, from increased legislation and pressure in non-industrialized nation to increased awareness and concern from customers in the industrialized nations. This concern for global ethics sometimes requires extensive knowledge about other cultures, ethnicities, and religions, but can frequently be handled by acknowledging cultural differences and coming to ethical dilemmas with an open mind.

Finally, concern for the environment may be single-most pressing modern ethical issue facing businesses today. Most educated people have embraced the reality that industry has had and continues to have an extremely negative impact on the earth. Though some scientists are still arguing against the idea of global warming and that it has been driven by man-made industry, environmental concerns are not based solely on fears of global warming. In fact, the negative impact of other types of pollution is absolutely clear, as is the fact that the world's natural resources are being utilized at a rate that is unsustainable, both in long-term and short-term views.

Corporations have cause to be concerned, because they know that… [END OF PREVIEW]

Ethics in a Computerized Society Research Paper


Ethics and Leadership, Forming Research Paper


Ethics According to the Principles of Ethical Essay


Ethics and Organizational Development Term Paper


Ethics an Empirical Study of Cpas Moral Term Paper


View 1,000+ other related papers  >>

Cite This Research Proposal:

APA Format

Ethics in Management.  (2008, August 29).  Retrieved October 16, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/ethics-management/5694567

MLA Format

"Ethics in Management."  29 August 2008.  Web.  16 October 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/ethics-management/5694567>.

Chicago Format

"Ethics in Management."  Essaytown.com.  August 29, 2008.  Accessed October 16, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/ethics-management/5694567.