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“Beauty is skin deep” – How would you ethically justify the statement by applying different theories and real life examples?
Physical beauty is, of course, only skin-deep. After all, we’re all quite familiar with the very pretty person who has the heart of a troll or a demon. Behind the pretty or handsome face, and all its symmetrical features, can be a mind that is tangled in ugly views of the world. While there are, of course, times when such an ugly “soul” causes a person to move and talk in a way that detracts from even the nicest features, there are also those times when there are no signs of the ugliness showing on the outside. Like this nature, in business many companies have some ugly features, which they don’t want to come in front. A majority of the respondents that steps were being taken by organizations to incorporate ethical values into daily operations. However, less than a quarter of those surveyed indicated that resources were being set aside to accomplish the objective. The most popular technique for institutionalizing ethics was the development of a code of ethics. Training in ethics, ethics officers, and ethics committees were not in common use amongst the companies surveyed. Furthermore, very few organizations indicated that ethical behavior was specifically rewarded.
Normative Ethical Theories
Normative ethics is the study of ethical action. It is the branch of philosophical ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking. Normative ethics is distinct from meta-ethics because it examines standards for the rightness and wrongness of actions, while meta-ethics studies the meaning of moral language and the metaphysics of moral facts. Normative ethics is also distinct from descriptive ethics, as the latter is an empirical investigation of people’s moral beliefs. To put it another way, descriptive ethics would be concerned with determining what proportion of people believe that killing is always wrong, while normative ethics is concerned with whether it is correct to hold such a belief. Hence, normative ethics is sometimes said to be prescriptive, rather than descriptive. However, on certain versions of the meta-ethical view called moral realism, moral facts are both descriptive and prescriptive at the same time.<href=”#_ftn1″ name=”_ftnref1″ title=””> Broadly speaking, normative ethics can be divided into the sub-disciplines of moral theory and applied ethics. In recent years the boundaries between these sub-disciplines have increasingly been dissolving as moral theorists become more interested in applied problems and applied ethics is becoming more profoundly philosophically informed.
In Consequential Ethics, the outcomes determine the morality of the act. What make the act wrong are the consequences. It says that it will be legitimate to lie in order to get out of a serious problem, such as to save a persons life. In other words a white lie is fine. So the essence of morality is determined by the result or outcome of the act.
In non-Consequential Ethics, the source of morality comes from something else: law, God’s law, moral law, sense of duty, and your definition of what is the virtuous thing to do. All those considerations are built into the act itself before you could think of consequences, before it makes it right or wrong. One classic example is this system is lying. Lying could be wrong because in one system, it’s a violation of the nature of speech. It’s wrong to use a lie to achieve a good end. Simply put, a lie is a lie, is a lie.
A great deal of our western culture is based on the virtue/character ethics ideal. It says, everything has a purpose and function.
– The ultimate human goal is self-realization, achieve your natural purpose, or human nature by living consistent with your nature.
It asks, what is the moral decision based on? What kind of person (character) should I be become?
It says; cultivate virtues/character traits or habits. In short, morality is a learned behavior.
It also says, virtues are learned by…
– Imitation. At first, as a young child. For example, a child learns by imitating or we imitate others (i.e. teachers, leaders, etc.), and gradually we…
– Internalize the best way to act, not because we have to do it or because someone says you have to do it, but because it’s the right thing to do. Then you…
– Practice, and it becomes habitual. A virtue (love, care, give, bear, just) is a habitual way of acting consistent with your purposes or the purpose of the nature of the thing you’re involved with.
Feminist ethics is an approach to ethics that builds on the belief that traditionally ethical theorizing has under-valued and/or under-appreciated women’s moral experience and it therefore chooses to re imagine ethics through a holistic feminist approach to transform it.
Corporate Social Responsibility
In the business setting, social responsibility is often employed as a synonym for a business’s or business person’s ethical obligations. This is unfortunate because this loose, generic use of the phrase can often obscure or prejudice the issue of what a business’s or business person’s ethical obligations truly are.<href=”#_ftn2″ name=”_ftnref2″ title=””> To see why, one must appreciate that the phrase is also used to contrast a business’s or business person’s “social” responsibilities with its or his or her ordinary ones. A business’s or business person’s ordinary responsibilities are to manage the business and expend business resources so as to accomplish the specific purposes for which the business was organized. Thus, in the case of a business organized for charitable or socially beneficial purposes (e.g., nonprofit corporations such as the Red Cross or the Nature Conservancy and for-profit corporations in which the stockholders pass resolutions compelling charitable contributions), it is a manager’s ordinary responsibility to attempt to accomplish these goals. Even when a business is organized strictly for profit, it may be part of a manager’s ordinary responsibilities to expend business resources for socially beneficial purposes when he or she believes that such expenditures will enhance the firm’s long-term profitability (e.g., through the creation of customer goodwill).
This chart shows that 40% entrepreneurs think to purchase raw materials from local market, 32% want to concern about the quality even they don’t bother about the market place, from where to buy. On the other hand, 20% think that its better to purchase foreign products though those are good in quality.
Although there are certainly many different ethical issues concerning the raw materials and their purchase, an essential ethical question for all the interviewers was the place these raw materials were purchased from. The question of whether or not to buy local raw materials raised particular moral consideration among the interviewees. Although the usage of non-local raw material suppliers would, in some cases, have been economically a more profitable decision, at least in short-term, the entrepreneurs preferred the local suppliers (often even at the expense of profitability).<href=”#_ftn3″ name=”_ftnref3″ title=””>
‘‘We prefer the local raw material suppliers because in the end, purchasing local raw materials increases the benefit for everybody’’.
‘‘Our aim is to purchase as much raw materials as possible from the local suppliers. It is, after all, in everybody’s best interest. Of course you think primarily about the success of your own region’’.
This kind of moral reasoning had utilitarian like aspects. The consequences of these kinds of decisions, i.e. the utility gained for the business, the supplier and the local people in general,<href=”#_ftn4″ name=”_ftnref4″ title=””> were emphasized. Although the decision to prefer the local raw material suppliers was strongly justified by the general utilities it brings about to the local economy, there were more egoistic arguments to be found too. The usage of local raw materials, although it was in some cases more expensive than the alternatives, was considered to be in the best interests of the business in the long run, because it was thought to increase the value of a product in the eyes of the customers. The usage of the local suppliers was thus thought to bring about economic benefits especially for the businesses themselves.<href=”#_ftn5″ name=”_ftnref5″ title=””>
Interestingly, the considerations regarding the morality of the raw material production were not emphasized by the interviewees. Among the interviewees there was only one entrepreneur who held an ethical way of production (which in this case meant organically-grown raw materials) in high regard. For others, the attitudes towards the raw material production were more instrumental, i.e. availability and quality issues were considered to be more important concerns for the interviewed entrepreneurs than the way the raw materials were produced. It should be noted though, that all of the interviewees mainly used domestic raw materials, which they generally believed to be of a morally high standard. Thus, it is possible that the assumption of ethically sound production of raw materials could be built in to the decision to use domestic raw materials.
Quality of the Product
This chart shows that 36% entrepreneurs think that good execution may positively impact on the quality of production, 28% think about the profitability and 20% think that quality can increase the reliability of the customers and only 16% think that usage of good quality raw material can ensure quality product.
In general, the quality issues, which for the interviewed entrepreneurs stood usually for both the high standards of production and the reliable delivery of the products, brought about moral consideration. As has already been mentioned, a typical feature attributed to small businesses is a lack of resources.<href=”#_ftn6″ name=”_ftnref6″ title=””>
For a small business with few employees, time is often a very scarce resource.<href=”#_ftn7″ name=”_ftnref7″ title=””> According to the interviewees, the lack of time sometimes negatively influences the quality of the production. The ethical consideration concerning the quality can thus be stated as follows: how to reconcile a good quality of production with the almost continuous lack of recourses?
‘‘It’s our principle of business that our products are of the best possible quality, given our resources of course. We are not cheating with the quality issues’’.
‘‘In my opinion, it’s my moral responsibility to offer a customer products of a proper quality’’.
As the quotes above show, high quality was almost synonymous with morally good entrepreneurship for the interviewed entrepreneurs. According to the interviewed entrepreneurs, ‘‘good quality’’ can be legitimated in both economic and ethical terms. When regarding the quality of their products, the moral reasoning of the interviewed entrepreneurs had deontological, virtue ethical and utilitarian features. For some entrepreneurs, producing high quality products was their duty towards their customers; the customers had a moral right to expect high quality products. Thus, the entrepreneurs were not primarily interested in the consequences of high quality production, although they believed that superior quality was an essential competitive advantage for a small business and served also the best interests of their customers. Furthermore, for the interviewed small business entrepreneurs, producing high quality products was a matter of honor. As small business entrepreneurs, the interviewees saw themselves as artisans, and considered it to be a kind of virtue, a part of their craftsmanship, to produce only the best possible products for their customers.
As has been mentioned previously, the lack of resources had an effect on the issues of quality.<href=”#_ftn8″ name=”_ftnref8″ title=””> According to the interviewees, small business entrepreneurs have to compromise on the quality of their production every now and then. However, this does not mean that the interviewed small business entrepreneurs had the intention of decreasing the quality of their products. Time limits and economic pressures, or ‘‘commercial facts,’’ as one interviewee stated, forced the entrepreneurs to settle for the second best solutions from time to time.
‘‘Of course there are situations when it’s not possible to give one’s best. It’s because of the lack of time that you have to cut corners a little bit’’.
In this chart, we can see that 40% entrepreneurs want to fair about the price of the product, 24% think that price is the indicator of good quality, so they want over pricing method. But only 4% want to market their product below cost value to capture the market.
The third business situation that caused ethical consideration was the process of pricing, which was not considered to be simply an operation of calculation.<href=”#_ftn9″ name=”_ftnref9″ title=””> The interviewed entrepreneurs had all been deliberating the price setting from the ethical point of view also. The question concerning the moral aspect of pricing process could be stated as follows:
Is it right to compete with the low prices? The ethical consideration of pricing was related exclusively to the issues of price competition and low prices;<href=”#_ftn10″ name=”_ftnref10″ title=””> the questions of over pricing did not emerge during the interviews.
The interviewed entrepreneurs were quite well aware of the prices of their competitor’s products. Thus, every interviewed entrepreneur admitted that there was a temptation to lower one’s own prices momentarily and strengthen one’s position in market in this way. The interviewed entrepreneurs had, however, rather negative attitudes towards price competition; it was thought to cause damage both to the reputation of the business and the reputation of the whole business sector; competing with prices was thought to have a causal connection with the quality issues. Thus, according to the interviewees the more price competition there is between the businesses in the sector, the higher the risk is that the quality of the production will decrease. For the interviewed entrepreneurs the reasonable pricing of products was an indicator of everything being in a good state of business.
‘‘If you lower the prices to the minimum, you have to cheat somewhere in order to make it work. And this will have an effect on the reputation of all the entrepreneurs in the business sector’’.
It should be noted, that although the ethical attitudes of the interviewed entrepreneurs towards the pricing issues were rather clear, they did not believe that all their competitors would be sharing these attitudes. Those entrepreneurs who worked part time were, in some cases, the ones to be particularly accused of ethically questionable pricing practices. In this sense, the findings of this study are rather similar to those who concluded that the small business entrepreneurs they studied, did not experience any ethical conflicts related to the pricing of their own products, but still thought that their competitors may not behave as ethically as they did.<href=”#_ftn11″ name=”_ftnref11″ title=””>
As the price of the products was often seen to be an indicator of good quality, fair pricing was also related to an entrepreneur’s honor.<href=”#_ftn12″ name=”_ftnref12″ title=””> According to the interviewees, it was not considered to be appropriate for a professional entrepreneur to sell his/her products below cost value. An under priced product can thus be a sign of an entrepreneur not valuing his/her own product. Therefore, also the influence of virtue ethics can be seen in the justification of the pricing process.
This pie chart indicates that 32% entrepreneurs want to market their product on the basis of feature. 28% think, disseminating information about product may be good for marketing. One fourth think that Push and Pull strategy is a good technique and 16% think that word of mouth is a good source for marketing.
The next business situation warranting ethical consideration was the marketing process, especially the decisions about the content of marketing information. The interviewed entrepreneurs considered the marketing of their products to be the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur, which is often the case with small entrepreneurs.<href=”#_ftn13″ name=”_ftnref13″ title=””> As is shown in a lot of research, marketing in small businesses often has unique characteristics that differentiate it from conventional marketing in large organizations. These characteristics may be determined by the characteristics and behaviors of the entrepreneur, and they may be determined by the size and stage of development of the business (for example, limited resources, lack of specialist expertise and limited impact in the marketplace).<href=”#_ftn14″ name=”_ftnref14″ title=””> The essential role of the marketing process, in terms of a successful business operation was, nevertheless realized by the interviewed entrepreneurs. In other words, the interviewed entrepreneurs considered it to be important to actively market their products, but the resources; both financial and human, for carrying out the marketing process were limited. In addition, the marketing process was often understood rather narrowly, mainly as disseminating information about the business’s product; often it was considered simply to be the same as praising one’s own products.
The ethical dilemma concerning marketing can be stated, therefore, as follows: what is the right way to promote one’s own products?
The truthful communication of product information had an important value for the interviewed nature-based entrepreneurs, i.e. stretching the truth with marketing information was morally disapproved of. This had some implications for the marketing processes of the interviewed entrepreneurs. All the interviewed entrepreneurs thought that, when marketing products, it is essential to give the potential customers a sufficient amount of information about the products in order for the decision to purchase to be made. On the other hand, it was considered that this dissemination of information should be done with caution; over praising one’s own products was to be avoided.<href=”#_ftn15″ name=”_ftnref15″ title=””> The interviewed entrepreneurs would sooner verbally undervalue their products than use some unnecessary superlatives.
‘‘We have avoided all manipulation in our marketing process. It has always been our principle that we would rather promise the customers a little less and let them be positively surprised when they use our products’’.
Furthermore, one of the interviewed entrepreneurs thought that the eager marketing of one’s own products underestimates the customers’ ability to make their own decisions about whether to buy a product or not. This entrepreneur believed only in word of mouth marketing.
‘‘It’s not right to push your products to the customers. They use their own best judgment whether to buy or not’’.
Employer – Employee Relationship
This pie chart shows that 40% employers want to employ people ethically. 32% and 28% employers think that its good to maintain a friendly and informal relationship with employees. It can increase the productivity of the employees. But no one even think of undervalue ones (employee) rights and wages.
An essential area, raising also ethical consideration for entrepreneurs in small businesses, was the relationships with their employees. It is noteworthy, that those entrepreneurs who did not have any employees at the time of the interviews, had also been thinking about the issue of employing people in ethical sense. Employing a person was thought to be a pivotal milestone in business life, something that would increase the responsibilities of an entrepreneur and, thus, influence his/her entrepreneurial role dramatically.
The entrepreneurs had asked themselves what kind of responsibilities a role of an employer should include. The relationships between the small business entrepreneurs and their employees were, before anything else, very personal and informal in their nature.<href=”#_ftn16″ name=”_ftnref16″ title=””> The businesses examined in this study were all located in populated areas, and therefore, the relationships between the entrepreneur and his/her employees were often more than just work related, i.e. they were often also friends, relatives, or were members of a common association, and so forth.
These kinds of overlapping relationships brought about a lot of ethical consideration about the employer–employee relationship.<href=”#_ftn17″ name=”_ftnref17″ title=””> According to the interviewed entrepreneurs, the personal relationships between the entrepreneurs and their employees manifested strong moral rights and duties for both the parties. The interviewed entrepreneurs thought that their duties towards their employees exceeded those set by the laws, i.e. it was their role not only provide wages and suitable working conditions, it was their duty to take care of their employees’ comprehensive well being during the work day. From their point of view, they also expected their employees to be loyal and give their best for the business.
‘‘A small business like ours is different from the larger ones when it comes to the employer-employee relations. My relationship with the employees is based on friendship. Thus, I sense all the time whether my employees are all right and whether they have some work-related problems’’
The ethical aspects of employer–employee relations are, therefore deontological in their nature, a question of rights and duties.<href=”#_ftn18″ name=”_ftnref18″ title=””> It should be noted though, that the interviewed entrepreneurs did not consider that employing people as their obligation towards their local community. The decision of hiring an employee was considered carefully, i.e. the costs and benefits of hiring an employee were closely assessed. In addition to the economic costs and benefits, one of the interviewed entrepreneurs saw the increasing amount of moral responsibilities to be a particular cost of employing people. For him, being responsible for one’s own work was such an important value, in respect to entrepreneurship, that the increase in moral responsibilities was a good reason for not to employ anybody, as the following quotation indicates:
‘‘My moral responsibilities as an entrepreneur would increase if I employed someone. I think that the duties and responsibilities of an employer are far too broad. Therefore the economic benefits of employing someone should be enormous if I employed someone’’.
It is interesting to review the ethics in relation to the business strategies of nature-based entrepreneurs. According to this study, it can be argued that although there were not any ethical codes or other manifestations of ethical regulations of the businesses in this study, competing for customers by being ethically sound, was a conscious decision for the entrepreneurs. Operating in an ethically acceptable way, a small nature-based business was trying to legitimize its own existence in the eyes of its customers at the same time as competing with other businesses. By taking the ethical aspects of business into consideration, these small businesses tried to differentiate their business from the others operating in the same business sector. Using ethical practices, as a competitive advantage was not, however, purely instrumental decisions for the nature-based entrepreneurs. Considering ethical aspects of their business decisions was not a calculated business resolution for the interviewed nature-based entrepreneurs. Instead, it was thought to be a natural way of doing business, and using one’s common sense. However, it should be noted, that the aim of this study was to examine only the ethical attitudes of the small business owner–managers. Thus it cannot be stated that these attitudes fully correspond to the actual behavior of the interviewed entrepreneurs. Thus, the statement “Beauty is skin deep” can be ethically justified.
Baumback, C. M.: 1988, How to Organize and Operate a Small Business, 8th Edition (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ).
Burrell, G. and G. Morgan: 1989, Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis Elements of the Sociology of Corporate Life (Gower, London).
Carland J. W., F. Hoy, W. R. Boulton and J. A. C. Carland: 1984, ‘Differentiating Entrepreneurs from Small Business Owners: A Conceptualization’, Academy of Management Review 9(2), 354–359.
Crane, A. & Matten: 2003, Business Ethics: A European Perspective. (Oxford press: Oxford, UK).
Glaser, B. and A. L. Strauss: 1968, Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies forQualitative Research (Aldine, Chicago).
Goodpaster, K. E.: 1983, ‘The Concept of Corporate Responsibility’, Journal of BusinessEthics 2, 1–22.
Kant, I.: 1980, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, translated by T. K.Abbott. 14th Edition (The Library of Liberal Arts, Indianapolis).
Spence, L. J.: 2000, Priorities, Practice and Ethics in Small Firms (The Institute of Business Ethics, London).
Spence, L. J. and F. Lozano: 2000, ‘Communicating About Ethics with Small Firms:Experiences from the U.K. and Spain’, Journal of Business Ethics 27, 43–53.
To : Barrister A.M. Masum
From : Safayet Gaznabi, ID#081-407-030, Bus 401, Sec: 06
Beauty is Skin Deep – its impact on Business
- What kind of raw materials should be purchased?
c) Quality based
d) Easy accessible
- From where raw materials could be purchased?
a) Quality based
b) Cost consuming
c) Local market
d) Foreign product
- Does the purchase place impact on business?
b) No impact
d) Depend on accessibility
- What is the impact of the quality?
b) Increase Reliability
c) No impact
- How the quality can be maintained?
a) Good execution
b) Usage of quality raw material
c) It can’t be maintained
- What should be the pricing process?
c) Market leadership
- Are customers cheated by low pricing of the product?
c) It depends
- Is it right to compete with the low prices?
c) It depends
- What could be the dilemma of marketing process?
a) Foreign exchange
b) Local barrier
c) Government policy
d) All of the above
- Is it very much important to actively market the products?
c) It depends
- Is it ethical to push the product towards the customers?
c) It depends
- What is the impact of the relationship of employer-employee in the business?
a) Increasing productivity
b) Friendship based work environment
c) Maintain good qyality of product
d) No impact
- What should be the model of this relationship?
<href=”#_ftnref1″ name=”_ftn1″ title=””> Crane, A. & Matten: 2003, Business Ethics: A European Perspective. (Oxford press: Oxford, UK).
<href=”#_ftnref2″ name=”_ftn2″ title=””> Goodpaster, K. E.: 1983, ‘The Concept of Corporate Responsibility’, Journal of Business Ethics 2, 1–22.
<href=”#_ftnref3″ name=”_ftn3″ title=””> Baumback, C. M.: 1988, How to Organize and Operate a Small Business, 8th Edition, (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ).
<href=”#_ftnref4″ name=”_ftn4″ title=””> Spence, L. J.: 2000, Priorities, Practice and Ethics in Small Firms (The Institute of Business Ethics, London).
<href=”#_ftnref5″ name=”_ftn5″ title=””> Carland J. W., F. Hoy, W. R. Boulton and J. A. C. Carland: 1984, ‘Differentiating Entrepreneurs from Small Business Owners: A Conceptualization’, Academy of Management Review 9(2), 354–359.
<href=”#_ftnref6″ name=”_ftn6″ title=””> Carland J. W., F. Hoy, W. R. Boulton and J. A. C. Carland: 1984, ‘Differentiating Entrepreneurs from Small Business Owners: A Conceptualization’, Academy of Management Review 9(2), 354–359.
<href=”#_ftnref7″ name=”_ftn7″ title=””> Glaser, B. and A. L. Strauss: 1968, Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research (Aldine, Chicago).
<href=”#_ftnref8″ name=”_ftn8″ title=””> Kant, I.: 1980, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, translated by T. K. Abbott. 14th Edition (The Library of Liberal Arts, Indianapolis).
<href=”#_ftnref9″ name=”_ftn9″ title=””> Burrell, G. and G. Morgan: 1989, Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis. Elements of the Sociology of Corporate Life (Gower, London).
<href=”#_ftnref10″ name=”_ftn10″ title=””> Spence, L. J. and F. Lozano: 2000, ‘Communicating About Ethics with Small Firms: Experiences from the U.K. and Spain’, Journal of Business Ethics 27, 43–53.
<href=”#_ftnref11″ name=”_ftn11″ title=””> Vitell et al. 2000. p.18
<href=”#_ftnref12″ name=”_ftn12″ title=””> Burrell, G. and G. Morgan: 1989, Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis. Elements of the Sociology of Corporate Life (Gower, London).
<href=”#_ftnref13″ name=”_ftn13″ title=””> Simpson & Taylor. 2002. (p. 39)
<href=”#_ftnref14″ name=”_ftn14″ title=””> Gilmore et al., 2001, p.173
<href=”#_ftnref15″ name=”_ftn15″ title=””> Spence, L. J. and F. Lozano: 2000, ‘Communicating About Ethics with Small Firms: Experiences from the U.K. and Spain’, Journal of Business Ethics 27, 43–53.
<href=”#_ftnref16″ name=”_ftn16″ title=””> Spence, 1999, p.79
<href=”#_ftnref17″ name=”_ftn17″ title=””> Glaser, B. and A. L. Strauss: 1968, Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research (Aldine, Chicago).
<href=”#_ftnref18″ name=”_ftn18″ title=””> Spence, L. J. and F. Lozano: 2000, ‘Communicating About Ethics with Small Firms: Experiences from the U.K. and Spain’, Journal of Business Ethics 27, 43–53.