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Ethical frameworks and pressure to perform

National Products Corporation participates in a highly competitive industry. In order to meet this competition and achieve profit goals, the company has chosen the decentralized form of organization. Each manager of a decentralized investment center is measured on the basis of profit contribution, market penetration, and return on investment. Failure to meet the objectives established by corporate management for these measures has not been acceptable and usually has resulted in demotion or dismissal of an investment center manager.

An anonymous survey of managers in the company revealed that the managers feel the pressure to compromise their personal ethical standards to achieve the corporate objectives. For example, at certain plant locations there was pressure to reduce quality control to a level which could not assure that all unsafe products would be rejected. Also, sales personnel were encouraged to use questionable sales tactics to obtain orders, including gifts and other incentives to purchasing agents.

The chief executive officer is disturbed by the survey findings. In his opinion such behavior cannot be condoned by the company. He concludes that the company should do something about this problem.

(a) Who are the stakeholders (the affected parties) in this situation?

(b) Identify the ethical implications, conflicts, or dilemmas in the above described situation.

(c) What might the company do to reduce the pressures on managers and decrease the ethical conflicts?

Solution Preview

The stakeholders involved in this situation include the employees of the company, the managers in question, the shareholders in the corporation, the board of directors, and the purchasers of their products.

The basic ethical dilemma each manager faces involves trading moral principles for employment. No one should be placed in this situation, since being employed is often necessary to support children or elderly parents. It is for reasons like this that people say things like "ethical standards are great if you can afford them." If these managers are not independently wealthy, it is not fair to expect them to sacrifice their jobs for ...

Solution Summary

How companies unwittingly create pressure to behave unethically when attempting to increase market share