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Business Ethics

Table of Contents

Introduction 3 1

Ethical issue 3 2

Recommendation and ethical theories 3 3

Is Michael’s boss ethical or unethical 5 4

Should Michael blow the whistle 6 5

Why ethics is relevant in business 7 6

Conclusion 8 7

References 9


  1. Introduction

In every business environment there always exists dos and don’ts regarding how businesses are run on a daily basis. When a business is in operation problems and situation normally arises and often requires the organisation to select between the alternatives which are evaluated as ethical or unethical. The use of proper policies and practices in business with regards to controversial issues like insider training, bribery or even discrimination are termed as unethical. The ethical issues tries to reconcile whatever the organizations must do legally while maintaining a competitive advantage in their business environment. (Velasquez and Velazquez 2012.p.46-89). This paper highlights the importance of ethics in business while utilising a case study, indeed ethics is quite a challenge for most business and as such it needs to be handled with care.

  1. Ethical issue

In accordance to the business policies, obtaining and intending to use another company’s private and confidential document is unethical. Therefore, in the case study of Michael’s new company, the ethical issue revolves around disclosure of company’s private information by one of the employee to Michael’s boss. The employee broke the rules set by the corporate, compliance and insight body of business registration Act by revealing sensitive information.

  1. Recommendation and ethical theories

On realisation of what his boss had done, Michael needs to act. Firstly, Michael can politely object the use of information that does not belong to his company without the consent of the other company. Besides, the Utilitarianism theory of ethical issues states that the actions of an individual or the company are either right or wrong depending on the consequences of doing a certain action (Epstein 2012, p.99-114). Hereby, Michael rejecting to use those document will save him from the dangers of being in violation of the fair competitions act. This theory further states, that if one understands that by using another company’s information in order to gain a better market share and increased revenues is immoral, then, they should not contemplate using them even when they are pushed to do so by their managers (Mesmer-Magnus and Viswesvaran 2011, p.277-297). If Michael really feels that he is being pushed to do unethical practices by the boss to use this confidential information while undertaking his duties, it would be ethical for him to quit his job in order to avoid compromising his integrity in the corporate sector having that what his boss is advising him to do is corporate espionage that is punishable by law.

According to Beauchamp et al. (2014 .p.43-47), the theory of Kantian deontology states that the actions of an individual or a company are considered as ethical if they can be acceptable to the universal laws of the land concerning conduction of business. Therefore, being certain of the consequences of corporate espionage in using another’s company confidential information in order to remain competitive is wrong with regard to the law of the land he can use the policies governing business to file a complaint in the judicial court, using the documents he was given as evidence to sue his boss. Nevertheless, this will pose a dilemma for Michael having that the top management might be involved in this unethical behaviour, thus he can seek protection from employee unions to avoid victimization or any kind of blame. By remaining ethical and presenting information to the relevant authority on the best practices and how one should act or behave will be in accordance to the deontology theory, which states that the company’s information ought to be treated with great respect and dignity (Bowie, 2017.p. 15-23). Michael should hence act as a role model to protecting rights of operation in the business field and rejecting to use another company’s information as a means of a gaining competitive advantage and also achieving a better end will mean that Michael is acting ethically as outlined under this theory. He can also quit but that would not help the situation as a replacement will be sought and the unethical behaviours will keep on thriving in the company.

  1. Is Michael’s boss ethical or unethical

Under any circumstances businesses exist with a motive of either profit making or non -profit making (social motives). Companies that seek profits operate in competitive environments and as such thy devise strategies that will help them maximise profits. Therefore, it is the intention of every single organization to try and, make sure it attracts the largest portion of the customers that consume products in that category. With this knowledge the business Acts and policies have been outlined all over the world that governs or protects the rights of an individual company or premises owned by an individual (Beauchamp et al. 2014, p.43-47). There are patents that safeguard a company’s information regarding price, product plan and manufacturing tricks and ingredients.

Michael’s boss can highly be considered to be unethical since in order to acquire those confidential documents he had to collude with an employee of the other company in order to gain a competitive edge through dubious means which are unacceptable in the field of business. Acquiring access to those strategic documents it remains ethically unacceptable, rather he should have conducted a market research to help him come up with new production strategies and plans based on the tastes and preferences of their consumers instead of copying to gain a competitive advantage(Solomon 2012, p.56-89). Having that he lied to Michael that he obtained the documents from an open source in the intranet is unethical. Further, it was not possible to find such information in an open source having that it was watermarked ‘private and confidential’ clearly uncovering his deceits. If he was honest the sensitive nature of the documents could have spooked him and as such he would have alerted the other company on the bleach instead of trying to use them which is unethical.

  1. Should Michael blow the whistle

Managers’ overall goal is profit maximisation and trying to minimise any expenses during their daily operations. The company may intend to maximise profits by engaging in actions that endanger their employees or affect related companies in that industry. The actions that are against the code of conduct, need to be whistle blown by the employees and the members of the public. Whistleblowing is the action of any member in an organisation reporting on the illegal practice, with the aim of exposing the evil deeds and hoping for the best (Mesmer-Magnus and Viswesvaran, 2011 p.277-297).

Therefore, whistleblowing will help to prevent something that is bad from worsening. Immoral business behaviours also need to be reported since they are against the set guidelines governing good business conduct. Misuse in companies has led to whistleblowing from other employees who feel that there is a lot of wastage in the company for instance, when a departmental manager misuses the company’s resources to run his personal errands at the expense of the company. Also unintended actions needs to be tamed with whistle blowing by reporting where set rules have been broken or not been utilized correctly (Mesmer-Magnus and Viswesvaran 2011, p.277-297). The other motive is the protection of the public, in most cases a whistle blower needs to uncover the unethical that he or she perceives will endanger the consumers or negatively affect an organization’s stakeholders. Moreover, obtaining compensation is another motive of the whistle blower especially when seeking for monetary or financial damage compensations. Every business enterprise has an aim of establishing positivity in its operations, every individual with interest in a certain company can do anything through whistleblowing to make sure this positivity is achieved. Through this they can uncover the doing of the management co-workers or even the departmental heads. When problem arises a whistle-blower is always available to solve these problem with an aim of the overall growth the company (Beauchamp, Bowie and Arnold 2014, p.43-47).

According to Firtko and Jackson, (2010.p.51), justification of whistleblowing is after making several meetings and cautioning the people concerned but they completely fail to change the wayward behaviours and thus one is compelled to unmask this unethical practises. Under normal circumstances, whistle blowing is pegged on total dissatisfaction with the cause of the problem and the action taken to the people causing it. In Michael’s case it was indeed unethical to obtain information that belonged to another company for their own selfish gains and as such Michael is at liberty to whistle blow such deeds to relevant authorities.

  1. Why ethics is relevant in business

Ethical factors are key to the success of any business, rules of ethics equally apply to all. Thus, the actions of one person in a company can greatly affect the whole organization. By acting ethically the employees can ensure continuity of the whole organization. The ethics in business are so significant in that employee retentions is facilitated when business acts ethically in its operations (Bowie 2017). For instance, when Michael found out that his boss was acting unethically by using documents of another company in the wrong way he contemplated quitting his job. Hence, a a company that works or operates ethically provides the employees with a comfortable environment where they would not have to compromise their integrity in order to get things done (Solomon, 2012.p.78-83)

Also ethics in business are significant in reducing cost that arise from employee retention challenges more so when an employee quits a job due to unethical circumstances. Thus, the cost of advertising and interviewing and the time spent during these interviews becomes so expensive when one quits the job. The human resource manager finds himself or herself held between a tag of war of when to hire and who to hire but this can be averted by remaining ethical. The company is also able to build a great reputation to the outside world, once it begins working in an ethical manner (Firtko and Jackson 2010, p.51). Companies that do not go against the set rules on gender equality, promotions that are on merit, quality product and properly weighed food stuffs are always performing exemplarily well. This creates a positive picture to the outside world and the company benefit from the increased profits due to increased sales as a result of the positive image projected by the company(Solomon,2012.p.78-83). Also, high productivity that leads to improved efficiency of a company, this means that the company has got no wastage at all, where all the inputs leads to output without much wastage after the production process.

  1. Conclusion

Ethical issues in business are many and varied, whistleblowing is key to solving ethical issues when diplomacy fails. Hence, there are good motives that are found in whistleblowing like productivity and efficiency of operations. It’s also clear that company bosses might dictate what to be done but any actors can raise alarms for any unethical issue that can happen in such organizations.


Beauchamp, T.L., Bowie, N.E. and Arnold, D.G. eds., 2014. Ethical theory and business.pp.43-47

Bowie, N.E., 2017. Business ethics: A Kantian perspective. Cambridge University Press.pp.15-23

Epstein, E.M., 2012. The corporate social policy process: Beyond business ethics, corporate social responsibility, and corporate social responsiveness. California management review, 29(3), pp.99-114.

Firtko, A. and Jackson, D., 2010. Do the ends justify the means? Nursing and the dilemma of whistleblowing. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, The, 23(1), p.51.

Mesmer-Magnus, J.R. and Viswesvaran, C., 2011. Whistleblowing in organizations: An examination of correlates of whistleblowing intentions, actions, and retaliation. Journal of Business Ethics, 62(3), pp.277-297.

Solomon, R.C., 2012. Ethics and excellence: Cooperation and integrity in business.pp.78-83

Velasquez, M.G. and Velazquez, M., 2012. Business ethics: Concepts and cases (Vol. 111). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.pp.56-89