Ethical Theories and Their Application Business

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It is vital for businesses to understand the importance of ethics in this dynamic environment. An organisation’s corporate culture is supposed to be characterised by ethical behaviours for it to make decisions that are more likely to be socially responsible rather than motivated solely by making profits. Organisations that are committed to long term success recognise and realise that creating a culture where ethical behaviours are rewarded and encouraged is the ultimate key to survival and growth. This paper aims at outlining three ethical theories and to evaluate how business ethics have been violated in the Zimbabwean banking sector. Definition of terms

Business ethics- According to Joseph 2003, business ethics refers to clear standards and norms that help employees to distinguish right from wrong behaviour at work. Ethical theories- these are theories that involves learning what is right and wrong and doing the right thing but the fact that the right thing is not straight forward brings in the subject of ethical dilemmas Utilitarianism theory

The philosophy of utilitarianism is one of the most commonly used and accepted ethical theories and is linked to Jeremy Bentham and John S Mills. According to Crane and Matten (2010) utilitarianism is defined as an action which is morally right if it results in the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people affected by the action. This principle focuses solely on the consequences of an action and it weighs the good results against the bad results. It also encourages the action that results in the greatest amount of good for all people involved. Utilitarianism is very powerful in business since it puts at the centre of the moral decision a variable which measures the value of an action. In a business situation one can analyse the two possible actions in a single business decision for example the dualisation of the Masvingo – Beitbridge highway saw business premises being destroyed for the benefit of many Zimbabweans. A few people lost their properties but the consequence was justifiable on the utilitarian grounds that the pain of a few business people would benefit the public. The consequence with a higher aggregate utility can be determined to be morally correct. Utilitarianism is widely applied in the health and safety sector where priority is given to the majority. Firstly organisations must analyse the course of actions that are available. Then they analyse who will be affected by the decision and what benefits or harms will be derived. Lastly they must choose the action that will produce the greatest benefits and the least harm. The ethical action is the one that provides the greatest good for the greatest number. Recently the government waived the maternity fees and this gesture will benefit most women and their babies in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Revenue authority ZIMRA uses the utilitarian approach to tax the high net worth for the benefit of the poor. Utilitarianism is used as a determinant of economic decisions and actions. However, the utilitarian philosophy has complications in terms of being subjectivity, problems of quantification and the distribution of utility. It is difficult to assess such consequences as pleasure and pain hence it heavily depends on subjective perspective of the person carrying out the analysis. It is rather difficult to quantify the pain that those owners of buildings that were demolished endured and to assign costs and benefits to every situation. Deontology theory

Deontology is a normative ethical position usually attributed the philosophical tradition of I Kant that judges the morality of an action based on the action’s adherence to a rule or rules. Deontology can be described as a duty or an obligation based ethical theory. When individuals perform their duties at work they are behaving morally. Deontologists argue that there are transcendent ethical norms and truths that are universally applicable to all people. The...
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