Every day we have innovative products and services that announce their arrival in the market place and others that go obsolete. It is this technology and innovation that leads to ethical issues, considering the competition to stay ahead by way of innovation is immense. Issues like data mining, invasion to privacy, data theft and workplace monitoring are common and critical.
In th field of technology we speak of ethics in two contexts; one is whether the pace of technological innovation is benefiting the humankind or not, the other is severely empowering few people who are tech-savery while choking others for the same. Technology, for example, has drastically replaced people at work.
In the first case we are compelled to think about the pace at which technology is progressing. There are manifold implications here, be it things like computer security or viruses, Trojans, spams that invade the privacy of people or the fact that the technology is promoting consumerism.
Nowadays data storage is primarily on computer systems. With the advent of Internet technology the world has got interconnected and data can be accessed remotely by those who are otherwise unauthorized to do the same. This is one of the pitfalls of innovation. The other one i.e. the pace of technological change also raises the question of ethics.
New products make their way and leave the existing ones obsolete. In fact technological change and innovation is at the heart of consumerism, which is bad for economy and environment in general. The recent economic downturn makes up for a very good example.
Increasingly technological products are adding up to environmental degradation. Computer. screens, keyboards. the ink used in the printers are some of the products use of which is polluting the environment. All these produce toxins that cannot be decomposed easily.
The other major issue in technology that brings in ethics is interface between technology and the mankind. Many scientists are of the opinion that the world will come to an end with a war between the mankind and the technology. Technology they say will advance to an extent beyond the control of those who have made it
No doubt technology has replaced persons at work and made certain others redundant. On the flip side many prson have been raised to power while others have been severely handicapped. The latter is especially true for third world countries. New manufacturing processes that are outsourced either replace manpower there or exploit the latter in the name of employment by engaging them at cheaper prices.
Technology has also made inroads into the field of medicine and life care. New cloning techniques, genetic modifications or other life saving drugs need continuous monitoring and surveillance. Bioethics has thus emerged as ethics in the field of medical technology.
Whereas we cannot talk of controlling technology and innovation, the better way is to adapt and change. The role of ethics in technology is of managing rather than controlling the same. Continuous monitoring is requ:red to keep track of latest innovations and technological changes and for ensuring fair practices.
“Globalization diminished the barriers between countries on the globe and also
called for universalization of values for trade to occur smoothly.” In the
light of above statement highlight the international business ethics.
Ans. International business ethics emerged quite late globally, compared to the business ethics that came up in 197Os It was only in late 1990s that the international business ethics came to the fore especially so after the economic developments that occurred on a global scale.
In 1990s manybusinesses from the developing countries expanded their operations and became multinational. The transactions between businessmen and the governments increased which gave rise to many practical issues. Culture and its relativity was one factor more prominent than the others. Other ethical issues in the context of international business are generally dealt with the laws of the land; although all of them faliwithin the ambit of international business ethics.
Q. 16. Globalization diminished the barriers between countries on the globe and also called for universalization of values for trade to occur smoothly.
Ans. Universal values were perceived to control the behaviour in the commercial space. This led to ethical issues in the international business perspective, those that were unknown till date.
Other theoretical issues arise from the diversity of business ethical traditions in various countries across the globe. In addition, comparisons made on the basis of corruption rankings of a certain state or on the basis of gross domestic product of a certain economy also lead to ethical issues in the international arena.
Since religion brings in a wholly different perspective to the way we look upon things; the comparison of ethical traditions from the perspective of the latter also gives birth to ethical problems. For example, trade in Christian dominated countries is different from the trade in Islamic countries. Again depending upon how strong or profound the impact of the religion is, business practices are influenced proportionately.
In the international business arena, ethical problems also arise out from the mere international business transactions. Fair trade movement, transfer pricing, bio prospecting and bio piracy are examples of transactions that fall within the ambit of international business ethics. Similarly, issues like child labour and cultural imperialism are controversial enough to call upon the attention of international business ethics.
Yet another arena for strong requirement of ethics would be when multinationals bargain to take advantage of international differences. For example when rich nations outsource their services to poor and developing nations at cheaper cost, western nations were up till recently outsourcing many of services to third world nations where they could hire manpower for the cheapest prices. This led to a severe competition between developing nations with each one offering cheaper labour than the other.
Dumping is yet another way by which large companies are trying to kill the domestic players. Foreign players often sell goods and services at a cheaper price making it hard for the small players to survive in the competition.
Consumer durables and FMCG are biggest examples of such practices. The bigger threat here is the resulting monopoly which places the customer in a losing position. The international trade commission began its search for its anti dumping laws from the year 2009.
All these are ways in which business at the international level can lead to ethical dilemmas. In absence of international business ethics, it may become almost impossible to regulate business and create winning situations for people in the international market place.
Q.17. Elucidate the various myths of business ethics.
Ans. Various Myths of Business Ethics: Practically business ethics at the workplace connotes an alignment between what the organisation values and how to go about it. It means that all day to day operations or activities carried out by employees are in tandem with the organisational policies without any deviations. There are however lots of myths that surround business ethics and their relevance and effectiveness.
Many management thinkers and philosophers believe that business ethics alters people’s values. They cease to be what they are, which comes in way of realization of their full potential. Instead business ethics should be about managing values and conflict resolution. Conflict management is what they stress the most upon.
There is a continuous tension between individual and organisational ethics. Many organisations believe that most of their human resources are already ethical and need not be trained upon. When such an ethical dilemma arises, it arises because there is a clash of principles that differ in their result priorities. Again there are ethics to counter that are equally reasonable! So what would you choose?
One wore myth that surrounds business ethics is that it is well managed and the prerogative of philosophers and theologians. They say that there is no such term as business ethics that èan decide how organisations go about their day to day activities. Most of this may be attributed to lack of participation of business leaders in ethical decision making process and their interest in the same.
Business ethics is also criticized as being nothing new. It is believed to be something that only avows, what is good and logical and known to everyone. But when we look at the same from the perspective of stakeholders, the society and employees who work at the bottom of the pyramid, it
safeguards the interests of all these groups. Organisations cannot function in a programmed manner ensuring that there is no breach of a certain code in the absence of ethics and values.
Business ethics in context of corporations is recent, but it is fairly old if we talk of general business transactions. The Roman statesman Cicero wrote about business ethics in his book ‘On Duties’. It looks recent because of the corporate social responsibility movement that started in early 1970s.
Yet another myth that surrounds business ethics is that it cannot be managed which is totally wrong. In reality business ethics is managed or exercised indirectly in some way. Organisàtions priorities can also be re&ctive of the ethics followed in the organisations. For example, a sales driven organisation is bound to be aggressive naturally, whereas one that is into the business bf hospitality is bound to be different.
Certain other sections of people in management believe that business ethics and social responsibility are the same. In fact corporate social responsibility is only a small part of it. Corporate social responsibibty concerns itself with managing business dealings and the interface with the society; it does not deal with ethics at the workplace. However, both fall under the continuum of business ethics.