In the fast-growing economy, business ethics has been one of the challenging paradigms in the modern world. Intuitively, corporate leaders and businessmen are trying to divulge in misconduct behavior to satisfy their business venture through unscrupulous decisions in the workplace. On the contrary, some have maintained their transparency and integrity by following the zero-tolerance policy in their organization. While almost every organization is spearheaded by legal jurisdiction, some have flawed this legal framework by acting uncouth to their dear esteemed customers and fellow working mates. According toChell et al.(2016), they consider ethics as a character of a person that influences an individual to perform a certain behavior whether good or wrong. It encompasses the elements of religion, moral, and legal decisions that can influence a person to make moral or immoral conduct. While other researchers have argued that ethical decisions revolve around the ability of a person to perform immoral or diligent decisions through solving problems. This paper aims to assess the difficult decision made by Anthony Soohoo (Cofounder and CEO of DOT and BO) through analyzing the ethics issues and examining its relation to Kantian ethics.
According to the Fast Company article, Vivian narrates how Anthony Soohoo was involved in an ethical decision concerning his previous company (Vivian, 2015). Ideally, Soohoo was a product manager on Apple’s PowerBook team where he performed his daily duties through gearing up for new products. On the other hand, the products were to be launched to the market for the public to access and buy them. During the part of testing, he discovered a small sample of the products were flawed and could be harmful to the entire market of interest. As a result, Soohoo was in a dilemma on whether to hold off from bringing the product to the market or continue to launch it. Moreover, he thought that the small sample size was not statistically significant and he could lose a lot of millions by holding off the shipments. On the other hand, the risk was too high because they would lose the trust of customers for the entire period. Through further evaluation, Soohoo decided to delay the launch of the product due to the high risk of losing customers. Also, Soohoo was directed by the long term perspective of saving the company image to avoid loss of trust from customers. Even though the decision of selling the products to the market had some quite benefiting lump sum of the money, it had a prospective downfall in the future. Similarly, they would have faced punitive measures by breaching the law by selling defective products to the customers. While we are aware that the gross misconduct of office and accountability can relinquish a bad image to the most high profile company (Apple). Although leaving a lump sum of the money to some few defective products posed a challenge to some of the managers who could have been in the shoes of Soohoo. Sincerely speaking, the majority could have not to risk holding off the shipments for merely a small sample size. The complexity that arises in this situation happens to be the lack of awareness of defective products by the customers. Meaning, a corrupt individual could have decided to face the wrath of launching the products to the market and pay back the fine that could have arose from a court of law, if the fine was cascaded to the company. Consequently, a fine which is less than 5 million would not have an impact on the entire company out of the total sales of the products worth 100 million.
The ethical issues that arise in this context reflect the decision of holding off or not holding off the shipments to the customers. Ideally, faced a dilemma on how to deal with the decision of selling the products or hold on for the further short term. According toChell et al.(2016), they describe how managers have the moral ability to decide the way forward and making decisions that are subject to integrity cases. But Soohoo was compelled to believe in the act of following legal framework by avoiding the shipping of defective products to the market. He was aware that the trust of customers is the most fundamental principle which could have affected the company’s reputation image negatively. As a result, he decided to focus on rebuilding the long term perspective aspect by holding on the ethical decisions which were difficult to make at that juncture.
According toWerhane (2019), he argues that a decision should be carried with the ultimate perspective of observing legal frameworks and avoid breaching legal legislation. The legal issue in this scenario arises from the coherent decision made by the product manager. For instance, it could have been morally wrong or illegal if the product manager decided to ship the products to the customers while he was aware of the defective products. According toWerhane (2019), illegal actions are considered bad because it affects the reputation of a company and the management of the entire fraternity. The bottom line of this issue relies on making the correct decisions by avoiding illegal or unjust decisions. According to Kantian, he describes that a decision which yields self-respect and protects the interest of other parties should be practiced to follow what is right rather than wrong (Baron, 2018).
Regulation is a key framework that applies to every institution or a country that is intended to safeguard false practices (Chell et al., 2016). In this context, regulatory frameworks apply in the identification of the defective products that could have simply tarnish the reputation of the company. Almost every company has a policy or regulatory framework that guides the decision of employees to perform a certain task. Also, the regulatory frameworks are designed to be observed and adhered to every decision made by the company. Perhaps it was the finest decision that steered Soohoo to observe the regulatory frameworks and failure could have yielded to punitive measures such as being prosecuted for allegedly shipping defective products to the market. As a result, he followed legislative frameworks which were following the moral action of holding off the shipments.
Business issues have not only affected an individual in daily decision making but also the company at large. Ideally, making the false decision to satisfy self-interest or company interest is always against the law. Intuitively, business demands trust and integrity which should be always maintained at every ethical reasoning. According to Baron (2018), he argues that it is impossible to conceive something which is deemed to be good even if it has been taken without proper qualification except goodwill. Also, he portrays the act of universal law in Kantian theory which encompasses reasoning as the main act of pursuing an action. His statements rely on what is morally unfit and what is just to society (Baron, 2018). Besides, the Kantian ethical theory of ethics is categorical imperative to the formula of humanity (Wood, 2017). Ideally, he argues that we should act in such a way we would have treat humanity as in our person or any person but never simply as a means. On the contrary, utilitarian views an action right or wrong based on the consequences. Accordingto Mill (2016), he describes that action is based on underlying consequences which can lead to the best outcomes. He argues that if the false decision can make the entire situation to be just, then we should practice because failure can have dire consequences. Therefore, he admitted that one must always do what brings the best consequences and every action is either morally forbidden or required.The decision made by an individual is strongly correlated with the company’s image. This means that customs, laws, and policies set by the corporate governance reflects on the behavior of an individual if a person fails to adhere to the set laws. Also, unethical reasoning does not contradict with the moral behavior of an individual but the whole stakeholders in the company of interest (Eggleston, 2017). What I mean is that a wrong decision affects the whole company at large especially the stakeholders. According toWerhane (2019), he argues that a selected sample from a population unit can be statistically significant if the sample unit contains individuals with unethical related problems about decision making. From the aforementioned consequences, legal and regulatory obligations are most essential to sustain the reputation of the company and shy away from breaking legal laws set by the government.
Ideally, the Product Manager (Soohoo) should have ensured all products have been examined before the final series of launching the product to the market. This can be done by allocating team members to evaluate and monitor potential risks after the manufacturing of the products. As a result, the organization should ensure every head of the department is competent enough and ready to put extra effort into quality customer services. On the other hand, Sally should have proceeded with shipping the products to the customers since every product in the market is liable to faultiness. Even though it is against the legal legislative, the company could have barred loss of money during the production process and the labor cost it took to prepare the products.
In conclusion, business ethics is essential when carrying out the decision of a certain company. With the growing cases of ethical misconduct, companies should ensure the legislative framework are implemented to assist members of the organization to have good decision-making skills. Also, each person in an organization should be transparent and practice lawful behavior to prevent future mistakes from taking place.
Baron, M. W. (2018). Kantian ethics almost without apology. Cornell University Press.
Wood, A. (2017). The final form of Kant’s practical philosophy. In Immanuel Kant (pp. 27-47). Routledge.
Mill, J. S. (2016). Utilitarianism. In Seven masterpieces of philosophy (pp. 337-383). Routledge.
Eggleston, B. (2017). Utilitarianism (by John Stuart Mill): With Related Remarks from Mill’s Other Writings.
Werhane, P. H. (2019). The normative/descriptive distinction in methodologies of business ethics. In Systems Thinking and Moral Imagination (pp. 21-25). Springer, Cham.
Chell, E., Spence, L. J., Perrini, F., & Harris, J. D. (2016). Social entrepreneurship and business ethics: Does social equal ethical?. Journal of business ethics, 133(4), 619-625.
Vivian, G. (2015). Fast Company: 7 Business Leaders Share How They Solved The Biggest Moral Dilemmas of Their Careers. Retrieved from:https://www.fastcompany.com/3046630/7-business-leaders-share-how-they-solved-the-biggest-moral-dilemmas-of-their
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