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The meaning of business ethics and how it is performed may seem to be in contradiction to each other. The disagreement on business ethics mainly affects the moral behavior of a company and its pursuit of profits. Many are of the view that morality and benefits have no chance of being achieved simultaneously. It is a common perception that profits always outweighs moral standards. However, this thought is false and bears a lot of bias. An organization can, in fact, make profits and remain ethically upright. Moreover, a company uses ethical behavior as a long-term strategy. That is, observing ethics often give a company a competitive edge over other firms. Owing to this, acting morally indirectly affects a company’s financial status. Even though the unethical behavior is rarely punished, businesses need to strive to follow the codes of ethics. I am, therefore, of the view that business ethics is not an oxymoron. In the case when business ethics were an oxymoron, people would have to surrender all societal ethics. Therefore, the company can and should survive in its pursuit of profit alongside engaging in ethical behaviors.
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Proper ethical conduct is equivalent to positive management. Collins (1994) agrees with the fact that business ethics is not contradictory as he employs principles that aim at giving ethical purpose to managers as well as increasing efficacy to the executive. Many people tend to think that the most significant role of managers is profit maximization as other roles like acting ethically and observing statutes are hindrances towards making profits (Collins 1994). It is due to such assumptions that predicaments concerning business ethics as an oxymoron arises. In most cases, managers are pressured to meet customer and subordinate requirements even if they have to go against social norms, laws, and ethical customs. Actions such as these are often steered by the urge to make profits since if subordinates fail to offer quality services or products and customers fail to buy the products, losses arise, and the conventional role of the manager will not be met. Management needs to shun acting in unethical ways to gain profits. It is evident that with the avoidance of greed in making profits, the view on business ethics as a contradictory phrase will end.
Excessive bluffing is detrimental to the business. Carr (1968), argues that bluffing is a necessity in any business as it increases customer count resulting in significant profits and is ethical. Companies use bluffing as a game strategy; however, it does not reflect the morality of the owner. In my opinion, bluffing is only ethical to the extent to which the product portrays the advertised characteristics. Carr (1968) tends to emphasize deception as the primary key to the success of any business. From time to time, many executives tend to practice some form of deception in the interest of their organizations when transacting with labor unions, customers or government officials. According to Gustafson (2006), utilitarianism requires one to engage in behaviors that produce the best consequences possible. The purpose of morality is to increase pleasure and happiness while lessening bad things. Managers need to acknowledge that failure of a product to deliver the advertised characteristics leads to the loss of trust by customers and relatively affecting the sales and profit. Customers deduce such acts as a betrayal.
The Executive, before excessively bluffing about their products/services, should consider that majority of their customers utilize their products with the expectation that the advertised traits will be delivered. Bowie (2002) explains that Kant’s theory argues that actions such as lying are prohibited even in cases when the outcome would bring more happiness. Moreover, the rightness or wrongness of behavior does not rely on the outcome but whether the action will fulfill the duty. From the above, it is indisputable that excessive bluffing is unethical. Hence, management needs to draw a line for bluffing that is ethical. With the inclusion of moral pretending, many will understand that ethics and business objectives can go hand in hand and result in increased profits.
Most organizations tend to be against whistleblowing terming it as disloyalty. Management always expects loyalty from their employees to the extent where they should cover up the company’s wrongful acts. Though blowing the whistle against one’s employer is met with much fear, employees who stand as ethics upholders practice the action. Bok (1980) points out the mechanisms employees take prior to whistleblowing. He states that the methods used include resignation or opting to stay in the firm with the hope of retaining one’s job. The terming of whistleblowing as disloyalty proves that managers believe that they cannot succeed without acting unethically. My opinion is that managers need to maintain their ethical standards to avoid whistleblowing. Adoption of such will decrease cases of whistleblowing and increase the firm’s reputation.
Finally, from the above arguments, it is noticeable that managers can act ethically and still make profits. Managers should be made aware of the fact that moral uprightness of a company increases its credibility to the customers and society. Firms need to adhere to morality even though at most times it goes unpunished. Ethical behaviors such as whistleblowing should be embraced by organizations since most employees practice it with the company’s best interest at heart. Business ethics is, therefore, not an oxymoron as the pursuit of company profits can be achieved alongside observance of ethical conducts.
In some cases, employees and the executive of organizations are forced to act unethically. Moral misconduct in businesses has over the years been tolerated and goes unpunished as the acts are seen to realize the company’s objectives. Some of the reasons one acts against ethical expectations include misguided loyalty and hope for promotion. Employees, for instance, act unethically while covering up the actions of their employers with the view that they are showing commitment and appreciation. According to Jackall (1983), bureaucracy eliminates internal and external standards of morality in issues that manager experience. The success of an individual does not depend on their effort but the inconsistency of the superiors and the market. In this case, an employee will achieve economic freedom by pleasing and submitting to their employer thus prompting them to act unethically. Although bureaucratic ethics allow managers to act morally, they tend to make their own internal rules and social context.
Once employed, employees perceive that it is mandatory to be loyal to their employers. Owing to this, employees see it reasonable to assist their managers to work unethically. They sometimes lie/cover up for their bosses’ unethical behavior, and in doing so, they believe they are loyal to the organization. The fear of losing one’s job often leads to most employees not reporting the immorality taking place in their firms (Duska 2007). Employees, therefore, shun whistleblowing and indulge in the organization’s unethical acts to seem loyal to their employers. According to Vallentyne (1987), ethical egoism argues that a person’s actions are perceived good if the outcome maximizes their self-interest even at the expense of other people. On the same note, this theory is based on the idea that it is moral to promote one’s interest; however, avoiding it could also be considered a moral act. Managers and subordinates believe that acting unethically and keeping quiet about it is protecting the firm’s reputation, hence, being deduced as loyalty. Duska (2007) states that no employee is indebted to avoid whistleblowing, therefore, accepting to act unethically is one’s choice. The urge to remain employed is a primary cause of employees assisting their bosses in acts of immorality. Managers, therefore, need to restructure the meaning of loyalty to avoid employee acts that are morally wrong to increase the credibility of a company.
Greed to attain job promotions and receive incentives steers many employers into acting unethically. Workers tend to disregard moral conducts thinking that it will help in their career rise. Ethical misconduct is employed as a means of swaying employers. For instance, an employee can encourage his/her colleagues to sabotage a competitors business with the aim of making their organization look better and make themselves appear useful to the executive. Employees also indulge in excessive bluffing of the organization’s products/ services in a bid to reach out to more customers. According to Bowie (1993), employee bluffing does pay since, if an employee bluffs to the extent where customers and company profits increase they are deemed to receive promotions or incentives. Due to this, subordinates are lured into acting immorally with the aim of either rising in rank or earning rewards. Managers should enforce guidelines that are used to reward employees to avoid them from acting unethically.
Prevention of adverse organizational behavior can be realized by creating awareness and leading by example. The management and employees need to understand their roles that are ethically expected unlike the conventional view of managerial functions that states that managers need to maximize profits through all means to the point of defying ethics. Organizations can also be educated on the various methods they can attract customers without deceiving them and enforcing excess bluff when advertising their product/services. Being right and putting a clients’ best interest at heart is one method bosses and their employees can use to gain customers without using deception. Morality is beneficial, and its awareness should be made to organizations to motivate them into observing ethical conduct.
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Additionally, an organization can create a code of conduct. With a written code of conduct, the management and employees can understand the type of behavior the company would like them to portray (Collins, 1994). The society also needs to be advised on putting less pressure on management to make profits and shun ethical behavior. The community, however, requires to demand ethical uprightness from the executive of organizations to create a moral society that the future generations can emulate. Finally, to prevent unethical behavior laws that require enforcing punishment to individuals who act immorally should be drafted. The inclusion of the above suggestions will reduce immoral behavior in companies and further increase moral behavior in the society.
- Bok, S. (1980). Whistleblowing and Professional Responsibility. New York University Education Quarterly, 11(4), 2-10.
- Bowie, N. E. (1993). Does it pay to bluff in business? Ethical theory and business, 3, 443-448.
- Bowie, N. E. (2002). A Kantian approach to business ethics. A companion to business ethics, 3-16.
- Carr, A. (1968). Is business bluffing ethical? Harvard Business Review, 143, 155.
- Collins, J. W. (1994). Is business ethics an oxymoron? Business Horizons, 37(5), 1-8.
- Duska, R. (2007). Whistleblowing and employee loyalty. Contemporary reflections on business ethics, 139-147.
- Gustafson, A. (2006). Utilitarianism and business ethics. Pearson.
- Jackall, R. (1983). Moral mazes: Bureaucracy and managerial work. Harvard Business Review, 61(5), 118-130.
- Vallentyne, P. (1987). The teleological/deontological distinction. The Journal of Value Inquiry, 21(1), 21-32.