The Impact of Ethics Upon Decision-Making
Decision making is the process of identifying problems and opportunities and choosing from alternative courses of action for dealing successfully with them. However, not all decision making follows a routine process. Complex problems invariably expose individuals in organizations to conflicting ethical and moral issues "tough choices which pit one 'right' against another" (Kidder). What is right? What is wrong? What is right-versus-right? These questions must be answered before the majority of decisions are finalized. Asking the right questions can be rewarding, and effective. Also, asking the right questions can result in a more efficient decision making process (Browne, et al., 9). Effective decision makers must assess the impact of ethics upon the process of decision making by defining ethics and examining the elements of an ethically defensible decision. Only then will equanimity be reasonably maintained.
Ethics, by definition, is a philosophical discipline, applicable to individuals or groups, that balance what is good and bad with principles of conduct governing moral duty and obligation (Hurley). Ethical principles do not necessarily isolate a singular "moral" code of action, but provide a framework for analyzing and weighing competing options (Making Sense). Historically, from a philosophical perspective, there are four basic ways of thinking about ethical behavior: the utilitarian view, the individualism view, the moral rights view and the justice view. Each approach attempts to explain how ethical behavior relates to the mandates of law but also to a "broader moral code that is common to society as a whole" (Schermerhorn, et al., 14).
First the utilitarian view of ethics considers "behavior which delivers the greatest good to the greatest numbers of people." Utilitarian decisions are morally weighed in relationship to the resulting consequences. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." One example could be in an impending layoff, when 350 people in a company lose their jobs, but 5500 employees remain, so the corporation can operate and continue to thrive (Schermerhorn, et al., 14).
Secondly, the individualism view acknowledges ethical behavior to be what is "best for an individual's long-term self-interest." A further supposition is that a focus on long-term self-interest ensures ethical short-run actions. Conversely, individuals who make unethical short-run choices will presumably repeat unethical behavior in long-term situations. This could apply in a case where a manager denies a promotion to a qualified minority and gives place to further long run...