Business Ethics and Social Responsibility

Published July 1, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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The next six weeks my research work is focused on Business Ethics and Social Responsibility.  In the business world, law and ethics create the guidelines that help govern corporate operations. The negotiating process is complex because all incumbents want to win. Boatright (2009) contended that the law tends to prevail in the public arena, whereas ethics is considered more of a private matter. In other words, laws that are clearly defined establish a set of enforceable rules that corporate bosses must adhere to, while matters of an ethical nature are based on personal opinion, moral values and principles (Boatright, 2009). For example, in one case study, an ethics issue transpired when a leader and his colleagues were faced with adding adult content to a popular social networking game their company produced. The game was played in a forum where a considerable amount of minors had access to from their online web browser. The ethical issue they faced was whether it was moral to expose gaming products to include adult issues like sex, violence, and gambling, to a community that consists of people who are under the legal age.

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An individual’s principles plays a big part in the decision making process. Ferrell et al. (2013) contend that principles are based on the values people develop as norms that are widely accepted socially, like accountability, authenticity, trustworthiness, and honor (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2013). The leader in the social networking game case was faced with a decision that included adding an aspect that implemented full nudity to a section of one of their popular games. In this highly competitive market, their company enjoyed enormous success. His dilemma was based on whether he felt comfortable introducing this aspect of the game to the US market and whether he believed that market was ready to embrace it in their gaming forum. In addition, the stakes were high because the consequences could have a dire effect on the company’s revenues which in turn would affect the many employees whose jobs were at stake if the decision turned out detrimental.

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Business leaders and managers must consider more than just the legal aspects involved in the decision making process. According to Boatright (2009), many corporate bosses have discovered that reliance on the law alone can prove to be disastrous (Boatright, 2009). In Karl’s situation, although the commercial use of sex, violence, and gambling are accepted in the US, it is only accepted in markets that are clearly identified for mature audiences. Adding this new element to a successfully established product introduces restrictions to their marketplace. There are however, countries where sex, violence, and gambling are more widely accepted, but even those markets have established clearly defined parameters. The question the leader faced in this case study was whether to include the nudity, which is destined to change their share of the market place without having conducted extensive market research or created focus groups to test it out. On the other hand this new strategy may open other markets on a global level where the restrictions are less binding. His best bet is to identify where the majority of the profits are being generated. For example, if the US holds the larger portion of the market share, he may wish to consider keeping them happy, and slowly introduce the mature version in other markets outside the US to see how the product fares. Once he has gathered data from the screening process, he will have a better indication of what aspects other markets are responding to, and puts him in a better place to make an effective decision. In conclusion, because of the wide diversity in beliefs, morals, and principles that vary from country to country, what some consider immoral in one country, may be perfectly natural to others from another region. Leaders need to determine the culture of the territory they wish to market their products to assure it does not conflict with the legal and ethical values of that region and in turn, organizations can continue to enjoy success without losing integrity.

References:

Boatright, J. (2009). Ethics and the Conduct of Business (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell. (2013). Business ethics and social responsibility (9th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Ferrell, O., & Fraedrich, J. (2012). Business ethics: Ethical decision making (9th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western College Publishing.

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