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Ethical Issues, Decision and Professional Obligations

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1. What makes an ethical decision or issue ethical? How would you explain the differences between ethical/nonethical and ethical/unethical? What ethical issues or dilemmas have you experienced in the workplace?

2. Do professionals such as accountants and lawyers have duties and obligations that other people do not? From where would such duties come from?

3. Are some ethical values or principles relative to one's own culture, religion, or personal opinion? Are some ethical values not culturally relevant? What makes them different?

4. What is the difference in your mind, and in common usage, between a perception, a generalization, and a stereotype? Provide an example of each. Are each or all consistently unethical judgments or are they sometimes or always ethically justified in their use and implementation?

5. Term papers on practically every subject imaginable are available on the Internet. Many of those who post the papers defend their practice in two ways: (a) These papers are posted to assist in research in the same way any other resource is posted on the Web and should simply be cited if used, and (b) these papers are posted in order to encourage faculty to modify paper topics or exams and not to simply bring back assignments that have been used countless times in the past. Are you persuaded by either argument? Is there anything unethical about this service in general? If so, who should be held accountable, the poster, the ultimate user, or someone else?

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This should provide you an overview/template; be sure to add your own opinion, I have listed several additional sources for you:

1. What makes an ethical decision or issue ethical? How would you explain the differences between ethical/nonethical and ethical/unethical? What ethical issues or dilemmas have you experienced in the workplace?

Decision-making is one of the fundamental keys to the survival of an organization, more so now that economic boundaries between countries crumble, business becomes more complex, and the results of decisions often have global impact. Decisions are made constantly in business; it is the part and parcel of being effective in one's job. Innovation and improvement on a regular basis are required to maintain and improve the ability to make rational decisions, and some psychologists even believe that the ability to make effective decisions is at the core of the individual's success of failure within their organization (Porter, 1998). Managers, in particular, realize that if their organizations are to survive in this dynamic and uncertain environment, they have to make decisions concerning new business opportunities, products, customers, suppliers, markets and technical developments. This clearly indicates that the most important managerial attribute is the ability to make the right decision. The outcomes of the decisions will be used as the benchmark to evaluate whether managers are successful (Drucker, 2001).

However, not all decisions can be made on a relaxed or considered timetable. Most managers would prefer a reflective form of decision making, one in which they had a bit of time to review the options, to do any primary or secondary research, and to glean views and opinions for colleagues. In an ideal situation, this would be possible - but as we know, day-to-day business decisions are not idea. Sometimes expedient decision making must occur, and for that, businesses must rely on the experience, wisdom, and trust that are part of any quality management team (Drucker).
Several biases come into play when business decisions are made, often unrealized by the decision-maker. One of the most common is called the "confirmation trap," in which the decision maker seeks out information and references that will support what they believe to be true, while ignoring information that would refute their decision (Bratvold, 2002). Hindsight bias is also common in decision making - individuals overestimating the degree to which they would predict an outcome once they have been informed that the outcome has indeed occurred. New research has now shown that hindsight bias, while negative in some aspects, plays an influential role in the human memory system (Hoffrage, 2000). Additionally, "anchoring" or "focalism" is one of the most common biases in decision making. Essentially, anchoring is the common tendency to rely far too heavily on one trait, piece of information, comment, or personal view when making decisions. Individuals then typically adjust the rest of their view to match that bit, again negating other data ("Anchoring Bias," 2009). Of course, standard human bias also enters in the decision making process - the way the individual perceives reality, illusion of control, personal feelings or background on the subject, or even as simple as not liking the individual or organization on whom the decision is centered (Simon, 1979).

Decision-making can be critical in two very common business scenarios. First, when an organizational change occurs there are numerous risks that can take many forms, and which require new and unique decision making patterns. There is confusion about what the change means, how to manage the change, loss of confidence and moral among staff and stakeholders, and general panic about the new processes of decision making (Drucker). Krispy Kreme, the decades old pastry maker, recently had a severe and rapid change of direction when two events collided that caused a conundrum both internally and externally. First, the popularity and media coverage of the no-carb, low-carb Atkin's diet was in its heyday during 2003-04, causing a loss of market share for the company. At the same time, both franchisees and the SEC began to notice accounting irregularities that overinflated company value while diminishing franchise returns. The combination of these two events was dramatic and the culture needed immediate change. A new CEO was hired, new decisions were made, new strategic plans launched, and now, despite the recession, well on the road to recovery - all based on rational, strategic decision making (Taub, 2005).

Another very common business scenario is the merging of two corporate cultures into one. Decisions that were once solid now become amorphous; normative business culture behavior changes, and employees and managers alike are left wondering what criteria will be used to make the new decisions that will affect them personally. For example, when Starbucks acquired Seattle's Best Coffee, speculation and panic arose about some of the very basic decisions that affected employees and managers in both companies: what would happen to the SBC stores and employees, what style of roast would consumers prefer, what changes would be made short and long-term, causing numerous speculation and panic throughout the organization and into the media ("Starbucks to Buy..., 2003).

Styles and methods of decision making are a critical part of both tactical and strategic management in the business world. Styles have been categorized, types of decisions defined, and numerous materials written about formulating logical and rational means with which to use information to provide the best decisions possible. However, in the final analysis, it is the maturity and ability for the decision maker to synthesize data, guard against excessive bias, and rationally weigh various options that are the key to positive decision making behavior.


"Anchoring Bias In Decision Making," (2009). Science Daily. Retrieved and cited on May
28, 2009 in: http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/a/anchoring.htm.

Bratvold, R. (2002). "Would You Know A Good Decision If You Saw One?" University of
Adelaid, Presentation on Aspects of Decision Making. Retrieved and cited on May 28, 2009 ...

Solution Summary

The solution examines ethical issues, decisions and professional obligations.