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Ethics in Business: the Blind Leading the Blind, or Simply a Case of Divided Loyalties - Research Paper Example

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Your Name Prof’s Name Date Eethics in Business: the Blind Leading the Blind, or Simply a Case of Divided Loyalties? Business Ethics, in the common mind, is something of a oxymoron. The tradition of the ruthless business leader doing everything he can for an easy buck pervades American culture, from media portrayals to board games like Monopoly…
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Ethics in Business: the Blind Leading the Blind, or Simply a Case of Divided Loyalties
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Download file to see previous pages These pressures include laws, missions statements, statements of values, ethical standards imposed by a professional association, industry standards and so on. In some ways these constraints make the task of a business leader much easier: they are able to pursue their goals with unregulated zeal as long as they function within well defined ethical boundaries. At least that is true in an imagined, ideal space. In the real world, however, business leaders often have broad leeway to either follow or fail to follow those guidelines, and the guidelines never cover all possible situations: it still comes down to a business leader to make ethical decisions without great external guidance. A close examination of the ethical space in which a business leader operates, including those who he has an ethical obligation to, demonstrates that while business leaders face a sometimes complicated ethical landscape, a few simple guiding principles of ethical philosophy can help clarify the qualities and actions an ethical business leader must hold dear. One of the most important qualities a business leader must have to remain ethical is the ability to maintain divided and often contradictory loyalties. When though about most basically, a business leader is often a middle person between two other groups who have mutually opposing desires: board members who would like maximization of profits, and employees who want to maximize their own value for work. If imagined in the utmost simplicity, share holders would prefer that all work be done for free so long as the quality remains sufficient, and employees would all prefer that they get paid for nothing, and these are incompatible goals. One of the fundamental problems for a business leader is how to treat both of these groups ethically. Many business leaders have a fiduciary responsibility to stock holders to maximize their profits while also having an ethical, legal, and often business interest in keeping the workforce happy and healthy. There have been several suggested solutions to these problems, which would allow a business leader to think of these competing interests as part of the same goal. Amongst the most prominent of these is stakeholder theory. This theory essentially states that many of these conflicts can be dealt with theoretically by imagining everyone involved as being “stakeholders,” whose interests must be collectively guarded (Boatright 2006). This theory, however, suffers many flaws. Firstly, it can have a paralytic effect (Heath 2006), because it does not deal with the fact that individual stakeholders will still have competing goals. Furthermore, a manager attempting to use stakeholder theory will have to consistently adding layers of stakeholders, because essentially, everyone is a stakeholder in every process that a business engages in. Citizens of towns are stakeholders because trucks use their roadways, and people in Japan are stakeholders because carbon waste affects their climate as well. So these theories cannot allow a business leader to sidestep the complications of vying interests, and thus a manager still must possess the ability to decide whose needs are greater or need to be respected more in a particular situation. The most important quality for any ethical leader to have, however, is simply critical thinking. This is because the fundamental aspects of morality have already largely been figured out through the process of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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