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Moral principles and their effect on business decision making

September 22, 2019


Ethics are moral principles that guide a person's behavior All decisions have an ethical or moral dimension for a simple reason they have an effect on others. Managers and leaders need to be aware of their own ethical and moral beliefs so they can draw on them when they face decisions

Business Ethics
Business ethics (also corporate or professional ethics) is a form of applied ethics that examines the principles and moral beliefs that guide management decisions. Ethical issues include the obligations a company has to its employees, suppliers, customers and neighbors. In particular, business ethics is concerned with situations when those obligations are inconsistent with economic or strategic choices, or are in conflict with each other. Legal obligations are not the same as ethical ones; laws are enforced through the threat or imposition of punishment by a government or through civil litigation. All individuals and organizations must follow the law, but complying with ethical beliefs is voluntary, not coerced.

Business ethics applies to all aspects of business conduct by individuals and organizations as a whole. Ethical behavior is conduct that follows one’s personal beliefs or shared organizational or institutional values. When individuals take action on behalf of an organization, they represent its ethics to society. Businesses are dependent on their reputations, so it is important for them to have clear and consistent expectations regarding ethical standards to guide employee behavior. Many employees prefer to work for organizations that share their own moral beliefs. A company’s ethical practices can thus have an effect on the recruitment and retention of employees.
In recent decades there has been widespread attention to business ethics due to highly visible cases of corporate malfeasance, such as the WorldCom, Enron, and Tyco scandals. To protect their reputations, companies have begun to form more comprehensive corporate policies concerning ethics. These policies generally offer guidance to employees and state the expectations of the company. Some companies require that employees sign a contract stating that they will follow the procedures within the handbook.
To be viewed by the public as having high moral standards, many companies have created a position called the corporate ethics officer or the corporate compliance officer. This person ensures their organization has statements of ethical principals, clear guideline about acceptable and unacceptable practices, and means of reporting ethical breaches. These executives also have the specific responsibility of monitoring ethical behavior and addressing breaches.
Decision Trees
Decision trees are graphical representations of alternatives and possible outcomes. The decisions are represented by the branches of the tree. Organizations and individuals often use decision trees as part of their decision-making process because they are a means for adding formal structure to information about a decision. Identifying the range of possibilities and their potential consequences helps clarify the decision and facilitates selection of an alternative.

The process of making ethical decisions requires:
·         Commitment: The desire to do the right thing regardless of the cost
·         Consciousness: The awareness to act consistently and apply moral convictions to daily behavior
·         Competency: The ability to collect and evaluate information, develop alternatives, and foresee potential consequences and risks

Good decisions are both ethical and effective:
·         Ethical decisions generate and sustain trust; demonstrate respect, responsibility, fairness and caring; and are consistent with good citizenship. These behaviors provide a foundation for making better decisions by setting the ground rules for our behavior.
·         Effective decisions are effective if they accomplish what we want accomplished and if they advance our purposes. A choice that produces unintended and undesirable results is ineffective. The key to making effective decisions is to think about choices in terms of their ability to accomplish our most important goals. This means we have to understand the difference between immediate and short-term goals and longer-range goals.

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