Considering ethics when making business decisions: The thin line between strategic and immoral alternatives
Business decisions are made with the bottom-line concept as the primary focus. As definitions of business and business ethics evolve, the concept of this focus also reshapes the decision and the decision making process. Case studies have shown that decisions are made by management that involves individual perception as well as business goals. Some scholars such as Drucker (1981) and Friedman (1970) dissent as to what that focus should encompass. The definition of business ethics is the region of the organization that narrowly defined by the goals of the organization itself. Though most organizations readily acknowledge its obligations and responsibilities most disagree as to where the loyalty and full responsibility lies.
Consideration as to where the line is to be drawn between the company’s responsibility to its stakeholders and moral responsibility to the community. What decision is made and how that decision is made, is to be seen in the outcome and possible consequences of that outcome. While a business’ obligation to stakeholders are typically measured by financial results, the moral and ethical decisions are judged by the responses made by the community. To explore this theory, the case of Mrs. Folole Muliaga is examined.
The case study of Mrs. Muliaga details a scenario about a low income family with an ill mother that ends in a tragic outcome. In terms of morals and ethics in business decision making, this case entails “characteristics of high-quality teaching cases” as described by Bridgman (2010). In this case, according to Bridgman (2010) and Eweje and Wu (2010) Mercury Energy decided to disconnect the services of a family whose mother was on oxygen to assist with her breathing condition. The disconnection of the energy services to her home was believed to be the direct cause of her death which occurred only after the interruption of services. It was later discovered that the interruption of was an indirect factor that lead to the death of Mrs. Muliaga.
According to the coroner’s report, the interruption of services was not the immediate cause of Mrs. Muliaga’s death but was instead the cause of the stress that attributed to the already deteriorating set of circumstances. Although the coroner’s report did not implicate Mercury Energy’s action as a culprit in the death of Mrs. Muliaga’s death, the surrounding community had viewed the actions as nothing less than callous and unethical.
The immediate reaction by Mercury Energy’s management only further exacerbated the situation. The initial response from Mercury Energy was the total denial of any wrong doing (ethically or legally). Later the company would acknowledge its lack of full attention to the situation. Eventually the company would also attempt to make amends with the situation by publicly announcing its intentions to address the problem internally via application...