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Business Communication,
Ethics and Practice

Team Project/Topic: Analyze the McWane Inc. case by using the two Ethical Frameworks: Consequences and Duties

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The report looks at the way in which the ethical frameworks of consequence and duty apply to McWane Inc. (McWane). McWane is a manufacturer of water and sewerage piping operating both within and outside the United States.McWane gained notoriety in 2003 when it became the subject of an investigation by the US TV series PBS Frontline. The program “A Dangerous Business” accused the company of being one of the most dangerous work places in the US. The show documented that the company had amassed more safety violations in the period 1995 to 2003 than all of its six major competitors combined.

In addressing a serious issue such as worker safety, the ethical dilemmas can be resolved using the principles of two major theories, being utilitarianism and deontology.Utilitarianism looks at the consequences of decisions and actions and determines that the most appropriate should be those that do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. In contrast, deontology looks at the duty that faces the person responsible for the action or decision. Deontology denies the utilitarian belief that the ends do justify the means. It holds that there are some things that we should or should not do regardless of the consequences.

When these frameworks are applied to the situation at McWane, it is easy to conclude that the utilitarian approach has been more prominent than the deontological approach. This is further illustrated when McWane is compared to American Cast Iron Pipe Company (ACIPCO), which undoubtedly follows the deontological approach.Both frameworks have their advantages and disadvantages and parts of each framework should be used to resolve any ethical dilemma. However, it could be concluded that the situation of McWane could have called for a greater emphasis on the deontological approach and less on the utilitarian approach. TABLE OF CONTENTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY2
1.INTRODUCTION4
2.BACKGROUND INFORMATION4
3.THEORITICAL FRAMEWORK6
3.1.CONSEQUENCE6
3.2. DUTY7
3.3. ETHICAL DECISION MAKING8
4.APPLICATION TO McWANE9
4.1.UTILITARIANISM9
4.2. DEONTOLOGY10
4.3. MAKING ETHICAL DECISIONS11
5.CONCLUSION16
6.RECOMMENDATIONS16
6.1. UTILITARIANISM16
6.2. DEOTOLOGISM17
6.3.MAKING ETHICAL DECISIONS AND CONCLUSION18
APPENDICES19
APPENDIX 119
APPENDIX 220
REFERENCES21
BUSINESS REPORT REFLECTION22
1.INTRODUCTION

An analysis of the story of McWane Inc. (“McWane”) provides a good insight into how ethical frameworks work in practice. In particular, this report looks into two important ethical theories, consequences and duties.McWane manufactures pipes, fittings and other water equipment. It is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, but has manufacturing and sales activities throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and China. McWane gained notoriety in 2003 through the US TV series PBS Frontline where it called McWane one of the most dangerous work places in the US.

This report looks in particular at the way the ethical theories of consequences and duties apply to the situation that arose with McWane. Briefly, ‘consequence’ looks at doing that which leads to the best consequences for everyone involved. Alternatively, ‘duty’ looks at the actions that are motivated by the concept of duty.The report will identify the issues that each of these two ethical frameworks reveal, as well as provide recommendations as to how any ethical conflicts may be resolved.

2.BACKGROUND INFORMATION

J.R. McWane founded the family company in Birmingham, Alabama in 1921 and today, that company is a major manufacturer of water and sewerage piping. The company has operations both inside and outside of the USA. It is a multi-billion dollar company, making it one of America’s more significant privately owned companies.

Since the...
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