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Business ethics: Issues within an organization and employee behaviors

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  1. Introduction
  2. What are the actual and perceived ethical issues within an organization?
  3. How are individual influences impacting ethical behavior?
  4. How can organizations influence ethical behavior in their employees?
  5. Conclusion

As unfortunate as it may sound, it is in this writer's opinion that the term ?business ethics? seems to be more of a punch line than it does a guiding light within the working population. With our news agencies constantly covering such topics as government bailouts, Presidential ?Debt-Stimulus Packages? and the seemingly ever repeating ?economic downturns,? it would appear that the people responsible for our economic state are being rewarded instead of punished for poor performance. Rewards such as using the government bail out money to give ?so-called? top-executives lavish bonuses, golden parachutes upon retirement, and funding for office renovations, extravagant holiday parties and luxury travel such as private jets. To use tax-payer money in these forms is in no way ethical and should not be tolerated. In this paper, we will answer three questions: (1) What are the actual and perceived ethical issues within an organization? (2) How are individual influences impacting ethical behavior? (3) How can organizations influence ethical behavior in their employees?

Before we can answer the first question, we first need to define what exactly ethics are and how they apply to business. According to, ?Ethics are considered the moral standards by which people judge behavior.? ( Ethics are often summarized into what many might consider the ?golden rule??do unto others as you would have them do unto you. While this makes sense as a general rule of thumb, it is not entirely useful when looking to define business ethics. In business, there are many different people executives have to answer to: customers, shareholders and internal and external clients.

[...] An individual within that organization can and should be stepping up when something unethical is about to occur. You wouldn't want to sell a lead based paint just because it was cheaper, would you? Now shareholders are opposite to customers, they want the highest profit possible which means they want the cheapest product/service sold at the highest price. Again, ethics come into play when creating these products/services. As for the clients themselves, this is where the magic happens. It is their job to try and appease everyone. [...]

[...] These unethical behaviors became so bad in fact, that President Obama had to set forth legislation to mitigate such behaviors. Jonathan Weisman, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal wrote an article defining Obama's plan. The article started out with a quote from the President himself when he said, don't disparage wealth. We don't begrudge anybody for achieving success. And we believe success should be rewarded. But what gets people upset and rightfully so are executives being rewarded for failure, especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.? (Weisman, 2009). [...]

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