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Business Ethics For National Semiconductors Case

2235 words - 9 pages

Ethics in Business From a business perspective, working under government contracts can be a very lucrative proposition. In general, a stream of orders keep coming in, revenue increases and the company grows in the aggregate. The obvious downfalls to working in this manner are both higher quality expected as well as the extensive research and documentation required for government contracts. If a part fails to perform correctly, it can cause minor glitches as well as problems that can carry serious repercussions, such as in the National Semiconductor case. When both the culpable component and company are found, the question arises of how extensive these repercussions should be. Is the company as an entity liable or do you look into individual employees within that company? From an ethical perspective one would have to look at the mitigating factors of both the employees and their superiors along with the role of others in the failure of these components. Next you would have to analyze the final ruling from a corporate perspective and then we must examine the macro issue of corporate responsibility in order to attempt to find a resolution for cases like these.The first mitigating factor involved in the National Semiconductor case is the uncertainty, on the part of the employees, on the duties that they were assigned. It is plausible that during the testing procedure, an employee could not distinguish which parts they were to test under government standards and commercial standards. In some cases they might have even been misinformed on the final consumers of the products that they tested. In fact, ignorance on the part of the employees would fully excuse them from any moral responsibility for any damage that may result from their work. Whether it is decided that an employee is fully excused, or is given some moral responsibility, would have to be looked at on an individual basis.The second mitigating factor is the duress or threats that an employee might suffer if they do not follow through with their assignment. After the bogus testing was completed in the National Semiconductor labs, the documentation department also had to falsify documents stating that the parts had surpassed the governmental testing standards. From a legal and ethical standpoint, both the testers and the writers of the reports were merely acting as agents on direct orders from a superior. This was also the case when the plant in Singapore refused to falsify the documents and was later falsified by the employees at the have California plant before being submitted to the approval committees (Velazquez, 53). The writers of the reports were well aware of the situation yet they acted in this manner on the instruction of a supervisor. Acting in an ethical manner becomes a secondary priority in this type of environment. As stated by Alan Reder, "...if they [the employees] feel they will suffer retribution, if they report a problem, they arent too likely to open their mouths"...

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