HMV VOUCHERS A TOCKEN OF ETHICS
“There is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud”(Friedman). When the question is asked, are corporations moral agents capable of acting morally and immorally just as people are? The answer to the question is somewhat not as easy as the question being asked. Corporate responsibility could be argued that a corporation has a set of rules and objectives to be adhered to, carried out and achieved, creating the idea that they are morally responsible for these actions and acting like an individual. On the other side Velasquez separates corporation nonresponsibility into two views “Intermediate” and “Concession”. Velasquez suggests that when an individual or a group inside the organisation or corporation “knowingly” engage in objectives for the better or the worst of the company it “makes perfect sense” to suggests that actions taken both moral and immoral leaves the organisations “morally responsible” for these actions. However it is also key to the understanding that the individuals are the “primary bearers” of moral responsibility, Velasquez also makes the argument that individuals or groups can make decisions or actions based on the corporate structure and policies stating they “have an enormous influence on the choices, beliefs, and behaviours of corporate employees" whilst also reiterating that the final action or decision is made by the individual and suggesting that "corporate actions flow wholly out of human choices and behaviours." Friedman’s views are contrastable with Velasquez theories of moral and immoral responsibilities. Understanding that actions both by individuals and by corporations have consequences is key to understanding ethical questions and theory. Ethical scandals in Ireland over the last few years have come thick and fast with the reformation of a broken banking system and a failed housing market. However maybe not as a severe as a European bailout but still as un-ethical as they come HMV’s mismanagement of sales of vouchers has caused scandal in an already troubled time for this once high-street super power in the music industry. In early January HMV administrators were forced into the receivership of the company however the manner in which this once super power in the entertainment industry the “top dog in music” closed raises great and interesting ethical issues. On the 15th of January in the UK a HMV spokesperson confirmed the administration of HMV and that that gift vouchers would not be redeemable. In the Dáil Minister for enterprise Mr Bruton stated consumer law “prohibits traders from engaging in unfair or misleading commercial practices”. Utilitarianism by definition is a consequentialist theory. It is linked to Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart states that actions and policies should be evaluated on the basis of the highest benefit and lowest cost to society. “An action is right from an ethical point of view if and only if the sum of utilities produced by the act is greater than the sum total of utilities produced by any other act the agent could have performed in its place” Bentham and Stuarts ideas pose the question of deciding not to accept the vouchers had the biggest benefit for HMV with the lowest cost to society. The value of the vouchers to HMV may in the future look small to the damaging affect it is after having on the brand perception from society as a whole. A spokesperson from the NCA speaks of their disappointment "This decision is very disappointing in light of the fact that the company continued selling vouchers right through the busy Christmas period and consumers bought them in the expectation they could be redeemed”. Bentham and Stuart suggest that an action would only be ethically sound if the utilities produced from...
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