ETHICS AND SOCIAL RESPONSBILITY
◊Explain the relationship between ethics and the law
◊Differentiate between the claims of the different stakeholder groups that are affected by managers and their companies’ actions
◊Describe four rules that can help companies and their managers act in ethical ways
◊Discuss why it is important for managers to behave ethically
◊Identify the four main sources of managerial ethics
◊Distinguish among the four main approaches toward social responsibility that a company can take care
12.1 The Nature of Ethics
♪ethical dilemma the quandary people find themselves in when they have to decide if they should act in a way that might help another person or group even though doing so might go against their own self-interest
●A dilemma may also arise when a person has to choose between two different courses of action, knowing that whichever course he or she selects will harm one person or group even while it may benefit another. The ethical dilemma here is to decide which course of action is the lesser of two evils
●People often know they are confronting an ethical dilemma when their moral scruples come into play and cause them to hesitate, debate, and reflect upon the rightness or goodness of a course of action.
●Moral scruples are thoughts and feelings that tell a person what is right or wrong; they are a part of a person’s ethics.
The inner guiding moral principles, values, and beliefs that people use to analyze or interpret a situation and then decide what is the right or appropriate way to behave
●Ethics also indicate what is inappropriate behavior and how a person should behave to avoid harming another person.
●The essential problem in dealing with ethical issues, and thus solving moral dilemmas, is that no absolute or indisputable rules or principles can be developed to decide whether an action is ethical or unethical. (Put simply, different people or groups may dispute which actions are ethical or unethical depending on their person self-interest and specific attitudes, beliefs, and values.) How, therefore, are we and companies and their managers and employees to decide what is ethical and so act appropriately toward other people and groups?
Ethics and the Law
●The first answer to this question is that society as a while, using the political and legal process, can lobby for and pass laws that specify what people can and cannot do. Many different kinds of laws govern business-(for example, laws against fraud and deception and laws governing how companies can treat employees and customers. Laws also specify what sanctions or punishments will follow if those laws are broken.
●Different groups in society lobby for which laws should be passed based on their own personal interest and beliefs. Once a law is passed, a decision about what the appropriate behavior is with regard to a person or situation is taken from the personally determined ethical realm to the societally determined legal realm. If you do not conform to the law, you can be prosecuted; and if you are found guilty of breaking the law, you can be punished. You have little say in the matter; your fate is in the hands of the court and its lawyers.
●In studying the relationship between ethics and law, it is important to understand that neither laws nor ethics are fixed principles that do not change over time. Ethical beliefs change as times passes; and as they do so, laws change to reflect the changing ethical beliefs of a society.
●In denying freedom to others, one risks losing it oneself, just as stealing from others opens the door for them to steal from us in return. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a common ethical or moral rule that people apply in such situations to decide what is the right thing to do.
Changes in Ethics over Time