Comm 351

Topics: Ethics, Business ethics, Morality Pages: 24 (2735 words) Published: February 22, 2013

▪ Introducing straight talk about ethics, where are we going and why?

▪ The approach to this course. What makes a course excellent?

▪ Why be ethical? The importance of trust and values

1. Moving Beyond Cynicism:

□ Edelman Trust Barometer (2009):

o More than half of respondents say they trust business less than they did a year ago

▪ Worse in the U.S.

▪ No decline in BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China)

o Business case for trust:

▪ 91% of consumers purchase products from companies they trust

▪ 77% of consumers refuse to purchase products from companies they don’t trust

2. MBA Oath

3. Business Ethics Defined:

□ The principles, norms, and standards of conduct governing an individual or group

4. Why Bother Teaching Ethics?

□ Bad apples are encouraged by bad barrels

□ Good character isn’t always enough

□ Adults develop moral judgment into their 30s

□ Conduct is influenced by environment


6. Relationship between ethics and law

7. Why Be Ethical? Who Cares?

▪ Individuals care

▪ Employees care

▪ Managers care

▪ Executives care

▪ Industries care

▪ Societies care


▪ Pp 12-13 What is your opinion of the oath?

▪ Do you think all MBAs should be sworn to such an oath?

▪ Why or why not?

▪ P 17 do you agree that ethics should focus on conduct rather than just “a set of moral principles or values”?

▪ P 18 do you agree that ethics should become an extension of management? Why? Or why not?

▪ P 24 Reputation and Competition

▪ Cite NZ example of butter vs margerine


□ Deciding what’s right: a prescriptive approach

1. What is an Ethical Dilemma?

▪ A situation where values are in conflict

o Two or more values you hold dear - or –

o Personal value conflicts with organizational value

2. Prescriptive Approaches

▪ Focus on consequences (consequentialist theories)

o Utilitarianism - best known consequentialist theory

o Identify alternative actions and consequences to stakeholders

o Best decision yields greatest net benefits to society

o Worst decision yields greatest net harms to society

o Advantages

▪ Practical

▪ Already underlies business thinking


▪ Difficult to evaluate all consequences

▪ Rights of minorities can be sacrificed

o Consequentialist Questions:

▪ Can I indentify all the stakeholders?

• Immediate, distant?

▪ What are the potential actions I could take?

▪ What are the harms and benefits for stakeholders given potential decisions/actions?

▪ What decision will produce the most benefit (and least harm) for the greatest number of people, and for society at large?

o Consequentialist Analysis

▪ Focus on duties, obligations, principles (deontological theories)

o Decisions based upon abstract universal principles: honesty, promise-keeping, fairness, rights, justice, respect

o Focus on doing what’s “right” (consistent with these principles) rather than doing what will maximize societal welfare (as in utilitarianism)

o Ethical Rules (Simplified)

• Kant’s categorical imperative

▪ “What kind of world would it be if everyone behaved this way?” “Would I want to live in that world?”

• Rawls’ veil of ignorance – for deciding what’s fair

▪ “What would decision be if decision makers knew...
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