Organisational Behaviour-Business Ethics

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Category: Business and Industry

Date Submitted: 08/19/2011 06:27 AM

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1 Introduction

In recent years, the topic on business ethics is more widely discussed than it was a decade ago. ‘Ethics is the set of moral principles or values that defines right and wrong for a person or group’ (Williams, 2007). Indeed, recent corporate scandals prove the fact that ‘the laws of the market cannot ensure ethical behaviour of its participants’ (Carter, Clegg, Kornberger, Laske & Messner, 2007). Although our ethical choices and the law are often the same, there could be loopholes in the law where an unethical choice does not constitute a breach of a legal obligation and thus, there would be no sanction beyond our criticism (Goldman, 2008).

For the purpose of this essay, I will be assuming the role of Karen. I am working a large, well-known department store chain in California under the supervision of Judy Paine. As she is a buyer that is responsible for the operations of the gourmet food department, she received substantial commissions based upon monthly profits.

After five weeks into my employment, a shipment of thin little wafer biscuits from England costing $80,000 was found to be infested with insects. The manufacturer refused to give us a refund as they insisted that the infestation occurred during shipment or during storage at our own warehouse. Judy reasoned that we should get rid of the shipment by selling it to a convenience store chain that ‘operates down in the ghetto’.

2 The Ethical Issues

2.1 Moral Intensity

Firstly, we shall examine the moral intensity of selling substandard goods to a store that operates in a poorer region. ‘Moral intensity is the degree to which an issue demands the application of ethical principles’ (McShane & Glinow, 2008).

Moral intensity is dependent on six factors which are magnitude of consequences, social consensus, probability of effect, temporal immediacy, proximity of effect and concentration of effect. As studies have shown that factors like magnitude of consequences and social consensus...