Individual Critical reflection exercises(Business Ethics) Essay Example

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Individual Critical Reflection


Question 1

Enron was a multinational company that dealt with trading of natural gas. The company grew to become one of the largest corporations in the world. However, Enron was engulfed in shoddy business practices perpetuated by its executives. The company operations therefore collapsed in the year 2001.

Lack of transparency: Dealings at Enron were marked by absence of transparency. A substantial number of stakeholders suffered including shareholders as well as pensioners who incurred heavy losses. What appeared to be a beginning of a vibrant economy where internet would create massive jobs ended up to be sad ending. In such a case, the vices perpetrated are deterred by punishment. But a concise mission coupled with organizational code of ethics tends to be crucial. However, instilling a culture of transparency in the conduct of company affairs is inevitable. It is a principle that a firm use in its decision to emphasize short-term gains and or long-term stability (Sims and Brinkmann, 2003).

Integrity issues: Organisations have a social responsibility of increasing profitability levels and hence creating more job opportunities and taxes that benefit the public. However, business ethics caution myopic pursuit on earnings. This is what happened with Enron. The constant reporting syndrome pressured the firm in meeting earnings expectations which promoted temptations to twist the truth. Desire to meet stakeholders’ needs must be reinforced by a structure coupled with values and trust. The structure should have oversight as well as notable penalties towards egregious acts (Sims and Brinkmann, 2003).

Question 2

Virtue ethics is described as a system where we place virtue to act as a measure of morality. Virtue in this case is desirable act and good character attribute. The opposite of virtue is vice or the undesirable attribute. According to Aristotle, virtue is often found between two vices. For instance, it is always virtuous to be courageous in the event of physical confrontation. On the other hand, it is always a vice when one is enthusiastic enough to fight. Moreover, it is a vice if one becomes too afraid to fight when need be. This way, by comprehending the common ground as virtuous path, we develop building blocks to morality (Annas, 2009)

In consequentialist theory, results are the determining factor not the actions. This means that whatever yields the best outcome is regarded as the best action. For instance, the goal of action is to maximize happiness without emphasis of motivation or overall nature of actions. Virtue ethics weighs actions against specified set of virtues (Oderberg, 2000). The ultimate goal is to bring about a virtuous person. Virtue ethics centres on the characters of an individual making the actions. Non-consequentialist theory performs judgement of rightness and or wrongness of the action based on the properties intrinsic of action, and not its consequences. There exist several non-consequentialist theories which describes strategies regarding moral deliberations and which provides guidelines to moral decision making. These are virtue theories, duty theories, categorical imperative and divine command ethics (Oderberg, 2000).

Question 3

Kellogg’s CSR statement is in conflict with the report generated by the British Campaign group. When a company issues a statement that contradict with the real occurrence of events, such a statement is regarded as controversial. In fact, the company’s actions might end up jeopardizing the lives of her stakeholders (Lindgreen & Swaen, 2010).

According to Kantian theory, a number of actions perpetrated by individuals such as deceit are prohibited even if such actions tend to yield happiness as compared to the alternatives. For Kantians, two fundamental questions emerges which must guide their actions; that is, should it be the will of the company for everyone to act as it propose to act. Secondly, do the actions of the company respect human goals or is the company acting for its own gains. If the resultant answer ends up to be no, then such actions should not be performed (Bowen, 2004).

Kantian theory is intertwined with deontological theory. These two theories assert that rightness or wrongness related to actions never depends on their impact but on if they accomplish their obligations or duty.

Kellogg Company has a duty of care. Thus, the company should ensure that what is does is right, do it because it consider it right and avoid perpetrating vices because they yield negative consequences. Duty based ethics illuminates both the right and wrong deeds. While applying the theory, the company is obligated to act accordingly without an emphasis of good or bad impact that may result (Bowen, 2004).

Question 4

The CSR concept implies that corporations have a certain degree of responsibility not only for economic impacts such as fair trading, but also on social as well as environmental implications.

Human rights are also relevant as far as social, economic as well as environmental aspects are concerned. In regard to labour rights, it is the obligation of the company to advance fair wages which impacts the economic aspect. Human rights related to non-discrimination resonate with social aspect. On the other hand, environmental aspects related to corporate practises affects broad range of human rights, with an example of right to safe working place (Lindgreen & Swaen, 2010).

While the main responsibility for enforcement and adherence of global human rights lies with international governments, it is acceptable that global corporations have an immense role to play. Firms affect human rights in a significant number of ways. Their impacts continue to grow overtime. Thus, a number of organisations have been influenced to embrace both economic as well as political responsibilities. Major organisations have therefore been engrossed in delivering services that had been previously provided by the governments (Lindgreen & Swaen, 2010).

Corporations have continued to comprehend their duty to the global community. They therefore understand the immense benefits accruing whilst they assist and respect human rights of close associates (employees and customers) as well as distance associates (suppliers and the community). The firms are also gaining considerable insight that a cross-section of consumers and investors expects it to act responsibly.


Sims, R.R. and Brinkmann, J., 2003. Enron ethics (or: culture matters more than codes). Journal of Business ethics, 45(3), pp.243-256.

Annas, J., 2009. Virtue ethics. In The Oxford handbook of ethical theory. Oxford University Press.

Oderberg, D.S., 2000. Moral theory: A non-consequentialist approach.

Lindgreen, A. and Swaen, V., 2010. Corporate social responsibility. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12(1), pp.1-7.

Bowen, S.A., 2004. Expansion of ethics as the tenth generic principle of public relations excellence: A Kantian theory and model for managing ethical issues. Journal of public relations research, 16(1), pp.65-92.