Introduction----what is business ethics?
The textbook says ‘ethics in management is concerned with those parts of organisational, operational, occupational and professional conduct that relate to absolute standards and moral principles.’1
Absolute standards and moral principles are always varying due to different views. For example, foods from fast/convenience restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King are unhealthy. On one hand, the manager does not believe they did anything wrong with their behaviours. As the purpose of a company is to stay in the market and make profits, so they have to sell burgers, which is a popular food among all age’s people. On the other hand, nutritionists cannot accept the food from McDonalds this kind of shops, as they sell high fat and calorie food, which will cause obesity problem. Thus, this example shows that is hard to distinguish whether the company did wrong or right.
Every company and organisations have their own obligations, which can lead to ethical decisions by managers. The obligations can be for consumers, stakeholders, staffs, environment, society, government and etc. In addition, different types of businesses have different obligations. For example, restaurants have to make sure the goods are not poisonous for consumers. In heavy industries like constructing of large buildings, there will be a dangerous working condition for staff. Firms must be careful with staffs’ safety and health issues.
In some particular industry, ethics issues are about reporting the process of activities, successes and failure. A typical example is cloning food. Cloning -The transfer of genes from an adult cell to create an identical copy by inserting the adult nucleus into an egg from which the nucleus has been removed, stimulating embryogenesis, and implanting the embryo into the uterus of a surrogate mother. Reproductive cloning of sheep, mice, goats, cows, pigs, and mules has been widely accomplished2. Firstly, most of the people are lack of cloning knowledge, by reporting the information; consumers will realize the advantage of this type of goods, which can persuade people to buy. Secondarily, cloning technology is a huge project, which means the costs are high. If the organisation does report the process goes on success or failure, stakeholders or government knows the how the progress going, which can build the confidence in this investment.
An ethical business is honest and transparent to consumers and staffs. For instance, the food company has to show all the ingredients and nutritional information on the package without concealing.
There are also lots of aspects in business ethics, e.g. corporate governance, management style and priorities, compliance with the law and regulations, regulations with statutory bodies, corporate cultures and dominant attitudes and values. 3
Here are two cases about business ethics
1. Marketing pharmaceuticals
One of the largest pharmaceutical multinational companies took over a laboratory with a strong serum that can apply to tambour. They made it into tablets and sell them to patients for a long time period rather than sell each treatment once. There are two complexities here:
i. The culture of this organisation is multinational companies, which is a corporation enterprise that manages production or delivers services in more than one country. It can also be referred to as an international corporation5. Due to the different policies and standard between countries, the company has geographically advantages. Such as they can produce the products in a country with a low standard of production. This can minimise the costs. As a result, it becomes complicated to recognise whether the conducts defy ethics. Therefore, stakeholders can use this vary policy and principle to keep the truth away the public. For example, some drug are not able to produce in a country. So they switch to a country which has no