The Conflict Between Ethics and Business in any Industry

The ethical decision making in business comes out of the conflicts between what is good for individuals, organizations, and society. These conflicts manifest themselves in rules that govern organizational behavior and in concrete decision situations. The potential areas for conflict between ethics and business strategy include:

 Cultivating and benefiting from relationships with legislators and governments: Such relationships may lead politicians to ignore the national interest (e.g. of the people who elected them) to line their own pockets.

 Fairness of labour contracts: Firms can use their power to exploit workers, including child labour, and subject them to unethical treatment in areas where jobs are scarce.

 Privacy of customers and employees: Modern databases enable tracking of spending for marketing purposes or to discriminate between customers on basis of their value. Staff can be subject to background checks and monitored through their use of email and the location of their mobile

 Terms of trade with suppliers: Large firms may pay poor prices or demand long credit periods and other payments from weak suppliers. This has been a particular criticism of large retail food stores in North America and Europe who are blamed for the impoverishment of farmers at home and in developing countries.

 Prices to customers: Powerful suppliers of scarce products such as energy, life saving drugs or petrol, are able to charge high prices that exclude poorer individuals or nations. Examples here include anti-aids drugs to Africa or purified water to developing countries.

 Managing cross cultural businesses: Different countries of operation or different ethnic groups within the domestic environment can present ethical issues affecting what products are made, how staff are treated, dress conventions, observance of religion and promotional methods.

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