Case Studies in Business, Society and Ethics

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9780131193550: Case Studies in Business, Society and Ethics

B> A collection of 35 original and reprinted contemporary cases that focus on ethical and social issues surrounding business. Readers will be made aware of situations that require moral reflection, judgment, and decision-making, thus revealing the complexities that surround moral choices and the formation of public policy. The book explores the processes and problems of moral decision-making in professional situations under complex circumstances of controversy, uncertainty, disagreement, and incomplete information. Cases are based on actual situations and reflect an authentic sequence of events that occurred in a business or public-policy circumstance. Cases contain sufficient detail to approximate complexity, without clouding moral issues or bogging down in detail. For anyone interested in Business Ethics in the Philosophy Business.

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From the Publisher:

A collection of 35 original and reprinted contemporary cases that focus on ethical and social issues surrounding business.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The thirty-six cases in this volume concern ethical and social issues surrounding business. Fourteen cases are new to this fifth edition. Of the twenty-two cases carried over from the fourth edition, fourteen have been extensively revised, five have been revised in minor respects (to clarify or update information), and three remain unaltered. The general Introduction to the volume has also undergone thorough rewriting, updating, and expansion. This Introduction treats the uses of cases and the case method, rather than the particular cases in this volume.

As in previous editions, the objective of this volume is to make students aware of situations that require moral reflection, judgment, and decision, while revealing the complexities that often surround moral choices and the formation of public policies. The book has not been produced to create a platform for moralistic criticism of the behavior of individual persons, corporations, or governmental agencies that play leading roles in the cases. Some cases contain dramatic instances of professional irresponsibility (the Andersen-Enron case being a well-known example), but it should not be inferred that the purpose of the cases is to teach what ought not to be done or that conduct in the profession under discussion generally follows this pattern. Irresponsible actions are occasionally featured because more is to be learned, in the circumstance, from wrongful than from rightful behavior.

However, learning through the study of wrongful or negligent behavior is not the primary orientation of this volume. The focus is generally on circumstances in which hard choices must be made under complex conditions of uncertainty or disagreement. More is to be learned from reasoning under circumstances of controversy, personal quandary, and incompleteness of information than from paradigmatic cases of irresponsibility.

The length and structure of the cases also deserve comment. Many cases that now circulate in the general literature of business, society, and ethics either are too short to contain enough detail for discussion or contain such a vast body of data that discussion is retarded by the particulars and their connections. Most of us encounter severe limitations on the amount of information we can study and remember about any sequence of events; and too much information often makes it difficult to find the essence of the problem. Accordingly, most cases in this book conform to the model of tidy cases that come to the essence of the matter without a massive body of descriptions and data.

Experienced executives and experienced teachers will rightly insist that the situations under which decisions are made in business are multifarious, perplexing, and short on relevant information. Executives see real-life cases as too intricate for short summary presentation. This point of view has its merits. Every student should appreciate that historical sequences of events are almost never fully captured by the facts mentioned in the write-up of the case. This is so even when cases are described at book length.

Many teachers of the subject matter found in this book prefer cases that take an inside view of a corporation or an institution under investigation in the case. They want to examine the decisions that managers must make and the strategies that they follow on the firing line. I endorse this form of pedagogy, and several cases in this book are so oriented. However, this approach incorporates only one profitable style of case study. An outside look at corporate activities is sometimes the only perspective obtainable. Moreover, it can be the best approach to cases that involve public policy. A variety of approaches to case writing is therefore used in this book, some taking the inside look, some employing the outside perspective, and some using a mixture of perspectives.

Some teachers and students like to see questions at the end of each case, in the belief that these questions focus reading and discussion on particular features of the cases. I believe that this practice is an editorial disservice rather than a service. A teacher may profitably circulate questions in a class for a targeted purpose, but the problem with this approach in the text itself is twofold: (1) Teachers teach the cases with very different approaches, purposes, and problems; and (2) students can easily be impeded in their own thinking by being channeled in a particular direction. For these reasons, no questions or aids accompany the cases in this volume.

Most of the cases in this book report actual rather than hypothetical events. That is, they are based on authentic incidents that occurred in a circumstance of business or during the development of public policy. Corporations involved are often identified by their true names, and historical dates and places are unmodified. However, in several actual cases, confidential material was used, or full documentation of some claims was impossible; in these cases, names, dates, and locations have been changed, and no identification of the corporations and persons originally involved occurs. In some of these cases, hypothetical elements have been added to highlight the problem and focus the reader's understanding of the situation. In two instances, a composite case was created from several actual cases by combining various features of the cases.

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