Tse Lai Sze
1. What are the main ethical issues for Professor Ballistico? Ethics is concerned with the study of morality and the application of reason to elucidate specific rules and principles that determine right and wrong for any given situation. Some of the controversy regarding business ethics is no doubt due to different understandings of what constitutions morality or ethics in the first place. In this case, Ballistico is a professor who is conducting a research and has come to some new findings. According to his professions, he should be honest and objective to his research and it is his responsibility publishes the results as what it originally was to enable the public have a correct understanding of what is happening. It would obey his professional standard if he did not publish the result. However, on the other hand, he was involved in a sponsor plan to fund the center. If he publishes the result, he would surely lose the fund and both his career and family may suffer from the loss. As a result, he is now in a ethical dilemma, facing a situation where values are in conflict.
2. What options are open to him?
Option 1: Publish the result.
If he chooses to publish the result, he may lose the continuous funding and destroy the relationship with the company. However, the beneficiaries would be the public and he in this way sticks to his professions.
Option 2: Not publish the result.
In this option, there are 2 different situations. On one side, he may just simply ignore the research and leave the results out. In this way, the sponsor company would not be hurt by the result he would get the fund as normal. However, it is not following the standard of his profession in the academic field and the public would not benefit from the result. On the other hand, he may inform the related company of the result and advice to modify their products as soon as possible. Under this approach, the company would not be hurt and the consumers may also be protected from the possible consequences from the current products.
Option 3: Hand over to another person or department.
Under this approach, Billistico may get rid of the research and pass it to a person who has no relationship and in interests with the company to continue the research. As a result, he is not responsible for the possible damage to the company in the future and the company cannot abuse him for the publishing and he also did not go against his profession.
3. How should B proceed, and prevent similar problems arising in the future? For B, before he starts every single project or research, it is necessary to assess whether the research would result in self interests or interests conflicts. Once he finds that it is possible for him to be involved in value conflicts, he should stop the research and hand over it to another person or institution that is irrelevant to the interests with the counter party. Once he decides to conduct the research after the assessment, he should maintain the transparency during the whole process. For example, he should report the periodic progress to another department or the public no matter what result is. This method can act as a way of self-regulation and prevent to possibility that he may hide some findings because of self interests.
4. What are the wider ethical concerns?
As for this situation, business may be involved in taking over previously governmental functions and thus the problem of democratic accountability becomes crucial. The central points are who controls the corporations and to whom are corporations accountable. Generally speaking, if funded by government, the universities and other public institutions are not involved or affected by any private interest and can act objectively and strictly according to the professional standard. However, under such situation, it is highly possible that funding companies may affect the...