BUSM4403 – Ethics and Governance Asm 1

Ethics and Governance Assignment 1 


Christensen, SL. and Kohls J, 2003, ‘Ethical Decision Making in Times of  Organizational Crisis A Framework for Analysis, Business & Society’, Vol. 42 No. 3,  328-358.

Critical Analysis Column (student’s own  analysis) Direct Illustrative Quotations (Not  included towards word count)
The reading focuses on addressing  ethical and unethical decision making  under crisis. Therefore, it is compulsory  to acknowledge the theory that authors  implement to explore further in the topic.  Moreover, the theory is the essential  element as it is the primary dimension  that the reading is based on to conduct  decision making whether it is ethical or  unethical.  

The chosen paragraph is selected  because it contains an explanation of the  leading theory used in the reading. 

The paragraph emphasized defining the  meaning of what is an ethical or unethical  decision. In order to strengthen  arguments, authors have applied ethics  knowledge. In this case, non 

consequentialist is a proper ethics  perspective. Based on the meaning of  ethical decisions proposed in the  reading, the authors have implemented a  justice ethics approach. The reading  claims that ethical decision is what the  decision-maker has afforded to all  stakeholders by intrinsic value. Justice 

Ethical Decision 

The focus of this article, threats to ethical  decision making in crisis situations,  requires a definition of an ethical  decision (as opposed to an unethical  decision). An ethical decision is defined  as a decision in which all stakeholders  have been accorded intrinsic value by  the decision maker. This is a process  definition of ethics. There are some  advantages to using this definition: (a)  When it is extremely difficult to get  consensus on specific outcomes  required by ethics (e.g., level of pay,  benefits, and safety for employees), it is  easier to get consensus on process (e.g.,  what should be considered in  determining level of pay and other  factors, and how that consideration  should take place). There will be  controversy here as well, but it is more  manageable. (In Jones’s [1980]  discussion of a parallel problem with  identifying corporate social  responsibility, he observed that “it is  virtually impossible to define social  responsibility in terms of specific  decisions” [p. 65] and asserted that 


ethics theory is defined as an action  taken by a higher level of decision-maker  with authority over the legal case. In  addition, the justice ethics is separated  into three principal types which are  distributed justice, retributive justice,  procedural justice. Firstly, distributive  justice applies because decision-makers  share wages and benefits equitably  among all employees in the organization.  Secondly, retributive justice is  implemented because the decision maker will directly monitor and punish  through processes. Thirdly, procedural  justice is also used because decisions  will not base on ethical principles and  codes. However, a decision will lay on  processes to create fairness to allot  benefits and burdens.  

There are several advantages to  implementing justice ethics: protecting  the voiceless and forcing decision makers to consider how fair benefits and  costs should be appropriately  distributed. A truly ethical decision is  considered in the interest of all parties  affected by it (Schaefer 1984). Moreover,  there is another benefit of using the non consequentialist approach over the  consequentialist approach because it is  easier to agree on processes by duties  or rights than specific outcomes stated in 

corporate behaviour should be judged  not by actual decisions made, but by the  process that led to those decisions.) (b)  Ethics principles, codes, and training  cannot anticipate most, and certainly  cannot anticipate all, ethical questions.  They can, however, provide processes  for ethical decision making. (c) It is easier  to monitor and sanction processes than  it is to evaluate the ethics of the resulting  decisions. A focus on process makes the  institutionalization of a commitment to  ethics more promising than an attempt to  list the decisions that should be made.  We believe that this process definition of  ethical decision making is practical and  defensible. Furthermore, this definition of  an ethical decision, a decision which all  stakeholders have been accorded  intrinsic value by the decision maker,  although not often used in the literature,  is consistent with some. For example, in  their discussion of “Kantian Capitalism,”  Evanand Freeman (1988) argued that  stakeholders have the right to participate  indecisions that affect them and the right  to not be used merely as means to the  organization’s ends (p. 103). This right  belongs by nature to each stakeholder,  so it is intrinsic. Bowie (1998) used Kant  and Rawls to suggest four requirements  for rule making in a moral firm: 332  BUSINESS & SOCIETY / September 


the selected paragraph. Besides, there  exist some disadvantages to applying  justice ethics. For instance, it can be  challenging to quantify benefits and  costs as the authors also argue that this  would also be controversial. According to  Hosmer 1987, a conflict between  individuals and organizational interests  is an issue of organizational ethics.  Furthermore, sometimes in order to have  a fairer sharing, the rights of some may  have to be sacrificed as the authors  stated in the selected paragraph that  their definition does not require all  stakeholders to be satisfied.  

Therefore, it is not enough to base on the  non-consequentialist approach to judge  ethical or unethical decision making.  Wide-angle leads to greater legitimacy  and ethicality (Kernisky 1997).  Normative theories, especially  consequentialist approaches, will be  applied for further study of this ethic.  Both utilitarianism and justice ethics are  focused on costs and interest. However,  because justice ethics concentrate on  distributing fairly, it still may lead to  harmful consequences. Hence, decision makers need to consider the outcome to  make a decision.

2003 1) . . . consider the interests of all  the affected stakeholders in any decision  made; 2) . . . get input from all the  affected stakeholders; 3) the interests of  one stakeholder [should not always] take  priority; and 4)… establish procedures to  insure that relations among the  stakeholders are governed by rules of  justice. (p. 47; also see Wicks, 1998)  Kernisky (1997) found, with regard to  corporate messages, that those that  incorporate the widest range of  perspectives (stakeholders) are rated  higher illegitimacy and ethicality (p. 851).  Schaefer (1984) argued that to be truly  ethical, a business decision must take  into account the interests of all parties  who might be affected by the decision.  Bowen and Power (1993) defined a  moral manager as one willing to engage  in fair and open dialogue with all  interested stakeholders, toward a goal of  genuine consensus. Bowen and Power  (1993) suggested that when the situation  does not allow an actual dialogue to take  place, the moral manager will engage in  an imaginary dialogue to ensure that all  perspectives are considered. Our  definition does not require that each  stakeholder claim be satisfied, only  (minimally) that the stakeholder is given  explicit consideration and that the  decision to not satisfy the stakeholder 


claim can be justified by the decision  maker. 

 (Christensen, SL. and Kohls J 2003,  page 332, para 1 “Ethical Decision”)

Find other scholarly readings that  support your definitions, e.g. that support  your above findings. Husted, B.W 1993, ‘Reliability and the  design of ethical organizations: A  rational systems approach’, Journal of  Business Ethics, vol. 12, no. 10, pp. 761- 


Kernisky, D. A 1997, ‘Proactive crisis  management and ethical discourse: Dow  Chemical’s issues management  bulletins’, Journal of Business Ethics,  vol. 16, pp. 843-853. 

Schaefer, T. E 1984, ‘Professionalism:  Foundation for business ethics’, Journal  of Business Ethics, vol. 3, pp. 269-277.

Hiekkataipale, M. and Lämsä, A.-M. (2017), ‘(A)moral agents in organisations? The  significance of ethical organisational culture for middle managers’ exercise of moral  agency in ethical problems’, Journal of Business Ethics Vol. 155, No. 1, 147–161

Critical Analysis Column (student’s own  analysis) Direct Illustrative Quotations (Not  included towards word count)
The reading aims to examine further the  importance of different dimensions of  ethical organisational culture for the  exercise of self-determination by middle  managers in the context of ethical issues  in the workplace. In order to explore the  topic, authors have implemented ethics  perspectives. Hence, two selected  paragraphs are critical because it points  out two main ethics perspectives used in  the reading. 

Two paragraphs are selected because  they include two theories that are  significant dimensions to evolve in the  reading. The authors apply both moral  agency, and corporate ethical virtues  approach to explore the topic.  

The first ethics perspective is the moral  agency approach which is considered as  Kantians ethics. Kantian acts as duty are  good will, and good will is unconditionally  good (Dimmock & Andrew 2017). There  are two main versions of this duty which  are duty to act and duty to treat. To  demonstrate, the authors have applied  the duty to act because they stated in the 

Moral Agency 

The social cognitive theory (Bandura  1991; Bandura et al. 1996, 2001)  suggests that the relationship between  moral thought and conduct is mediated  through the exercise of self-regulation  and, more specifically, the mechanism of  moral agency. Self-regulation, which is a  key concept with regard to the theory of  moral agency, includes self-monitoring  one’s own conduct, exercising moral  judgment of the rightness or wrongness  of one’s conduct in terms of one’s  personal standards and the relevant  circumstances, and affective self reactions (Bandura 1991, 2001).  External social sanctions (such as  isolation in the workplace, dismissal, or  reprimands) and internalised self sanctions (such as self-contempt, guilt,  or self-condemnation) play a major role  in self-regulation (Bandura 1991, 2001). 

(Hiekkataipale, M. and Lämsä, A.-M  2017, page 148, para 1 “Moral Agency”) 

Corporate Ethical Virtues


chosen paragraph that the right or wrong  of moral judgment is based on individual  standards, relevant circumstances, and  affective self-reactions. Specifically, this  claim means that acting morally occurs if  a decision-maker feels comfortable for  everyone in the world to do the same. 

The second ethics perspective is the  corporate ethical virtues approach that is  considered as virtue ethics. The  paragraph argues that an organisation  would be evaluated as organisations are  an ethical entity. Hence, it is virtue ethics  because this theory will judge based on  the character of the moral actor. The  virtue ethics is conducted lay on two core  virtues include integrity and constancy.  Due to, the author stated in the  paragraph that the more substantial  presence of good virtues would result in  more ethically behaved behaviour by the  members of the organisation, it will  adequately match with constancy.  According to Maclntyre 1999, constancy  is defined as pursuing the same  objective for an extended period. 

There are some benefits from applying  both sides of ethics perspectives. An  ethical environment can create the  potential for an effective ethics agency  when responses to ethical issues (Wilcox 

Operationalisation of the concept of  ethical culture has progressed from  Trevin˜o’s one-dimensional construct to  a more explicit definition of the different  sub-dimensions of ethical culture (e.g.  Kaptein 1998, 2008). In this study, we  draw upon the only multidimensional  model of ethical organisational culture,  developed by Kaptein (1998, 2008). This  corporate ethical virtues model (CEV)  builds on Solomon’s (2004) virtue-based  theory of business ethics, which  suggests that virtues are desirable  operational dispositions of both people  and groups as moral agents. According  to Kaptein (2015), the organisation’s  ethical virtues are embedded in the  organisation’s strategies, structures and  culture. The key idea of the CEV model  is that the ethical culture of an  organisation can be assessed, since  organisations are moral entities (Kaptein  2008, 2015). The model assumes,  further, that the stronger the presence of  each of the eight virtues, the more  ethically the members of the  organisation will behave (Kaptein 2015). 

(Hiekkataipale, M. and Lämsä, A.-M  2017, page 149, para 2 “Corporate  Ethical Virtues”)


2012). In addition, in term of kantians  ethics, the ethical critcal of moral codes  is implied in their existence and they  have the potential to drive ethical  decision-making (L’Etang 1992). 

On the other hand, there are also some  disadvantages from both ethical  perspectives. In Kantian ethics, if two or  more moral obligations are in struggle,  the theory will not propose which one  should follow. To apply Kantian ethics,  obligations must be clear and carefully  described (Lincoln & Guba 1985). In  some cases, virtue ethics would go  wrong if it only focuses on the judge the  moral standard without considering the  reason for a particular action. To make  an accurate ethical decision, it is  necessary to understand the interaction  between all factors (Ferrell & Gresham  1985). 

It is clear that both ethics perspectives in  the reading are not considering the  outcome, which may lead to wrong  ethical judgment. Hence, the normative  theories, especially the consequentialist  approach, should be considered to give  a broader perspective that would make  ethical decisions more legible. According  to Marshall and Rossman 1999, data and  information should be collected to 


investigate further to make more  rigorous ethical decisions.
Find other scholarly readings that  support your definitions, e.g. that support  your above findings. Dimmock, M & Andrew, F 2017, ‘Ethics  for A-Level’, Problems and Responses:  Conflicting Duties, pp. 16-20. 

Ferrell, O. C & Gresham, L. G 1985, ‘A  contingency framework for  understanding ethical decision making in  marketing’, Journal of Marketing, vol. 49,  pp. 87-96. 

L’Etang, J. A 1992, ‘Kantian approach to  codes of ethics’, J Bus Ethics, vol. 11, pp.  737-744. 

Lincoln, Y & Guba, E 1985, ‘Naturalistic  inquiry. Beverly Hills’, CA: Sage. 

Macintyre, A 1999, ‘Social structures and  their threat to moral agency’, Philosophy,  vol. 74, pp. 311-29. 

Marshall, C & Rossman, G. B 1999,  ‘Designing qualitative research’, USA:  Sage. 

Wilcox, T 2012, ‘Human resource  management in a compartmentalized  world: Whither moral agency?’, Journal  of Business Ethics, vol. 111, no. 1, pp.  85-96.


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