Ethics is about choices which matter,and choices which matter aredilemmas.― Martin Cohen
An Ethical dilemma is a complex situation whereethical principles or values are in conflict.Examples:• To whom do I have a duty—self, family, friends, workers, investors, consumers, future generation, and so on?• What is a fair or justice resolution—is fairness or justice based on everyone receiving equal shares, or more to those who merit or have earned it.
When faced with a difficult ethicaldilemma, we need ethical decision makingability for resolve it.It helps one determine the right course ofaction or the right thing to do and alsoenables one to analyze whether another’sdecisions or actions are right or good.
In the context of decision making, yourethics are your personal standards ofright and wrong.They are your basis for making ethicallysensitive decisions.
Ethical decision makingis a cognitive processthat considers variousethical principles,rules, and virtues orthe maintenance ofrelationships to guideor judge individual orgroup decisions orintended actions.
Framework for UnderstandingEthical Decision Making
Ethical Issue Intensity Individual Profession or Ethical Factors Business Ethics OrOrganizational Evaluations and Unethical Factors Intentions Behavior Opportunity
Ethical Issue IntensityEthical issue intensity can be defined as therelevance or importance of an ethical issue inthe eyes of the individual, work group, and/ororganization.Ethical issue intensity reflects the ethicalsensitivity of the individual or work group thatfaces the ethical decision making process.
Individual Factors• Gender―women are generally “more ethical” than men.• Education or work experience―the more education or work experience that one has, the better he or she is at ethical decision making.• Nationality―cultural appears to be significant in affect of ethical decision making.
Individual Factors• Age―the older you are, the more ethical you are.• Locus of control― external control vs. Internal control. – external control, see themselves as going with the flow because that’s all they can do. – internal control, believe that they control the events in their lives by their own effort and skill
Organizational Factors• The organization’s values often have greater influence on decisions than a person’s own values.• The more ethical employees perceive an organization’s culture to be, the less likely they are to make unethical decisions.
OpportunityOpportunity describes the conditions in anorganization that limit or permit ethical orunethical behavior.Opportunity results from conditions that eitherprovide rewards, whether internal or external,or fail to erect barriers against unethicalbehavior.
Identify the Collect Evaluate the Ethical Relevant Information Problem Information01 02 03 Act or Make a Consider Implement Decision Alternatives06 05 04 Review the Action07
01 Identify the Ethical ProblemThe decision maker must be able to determine:• if there is a possible violation of an important ethical principle, societal law, or organizational standard or policy• if there are potential consequences that should be sought or avoided that emanate from an action being considered to resolve the problem.
02 Collect Relevant Information• The decision maker should seek to gather as much information as possible about which rights are being forsaken and to what degree.• A consequential focus would prompt the decision maker to attempt to measure the type, degree, and amount of harm being inflicted or that will be inflicted on others.
03 Evaluate the Information• Once the information has been collected, the decision maker must apply some type of standard or assessment criterion to evaluate the situation.• The decision maker might use one of the predominant ethics theories—utilitarianism, rights, or justice.
04 Consider AlternativesThe decision maker needs to generate a set ofpossible action alternatives, such as:• confronting another person’s actions,• seeking a higher authority, or• stepping in and changing the direction of what is happening.
05 Make a Decision• The decision maker should seek the action alternative that is supported by the evaluation criteria used in Step 3.• A decision maker selects a course of action that is supported by all the ethics theories or other evaluation criteria used in the decision- making process.
06 Act or Implement• The decision maker, if truly seeking to resolve the problem being considered, must take action.• Once the action alternatives have been identified in Step 4 and the optimal response is selected in Step 5, the action is taken in Step 6.
07 Review the Action• Once the action has been taken and the results are known, the decision maker should review the consequences of the action.• If the optimal resolution to the problem is not achieved, the decision maker may need to modify the actions being taken or return to the beginning of the decision-making process
The ethical decision-making process thatapplies three predominant ethics theories:1. Utilitarian perspective2. Rights perspective3. Justice perspective
Utilitarian PerspectiveA utilitarian perspective:Where the decision maker considers theconsequences or out-comes of an actionand seeks to maximize the greatest goodfor the greatest number of those affectedby the decision.
Rights perspectiveA decision maker who considers a rightsperspective would consider theentitlements of those affected by thedecision.
Justice perspectiveA justice perspective may focus on eitherthe equitable distribution of the benefitsand costs resulting from the plant closingand employee layoffs (distributive justice)or the maintenance of rules and standards(procedural justice).