Ethical Dilemmas in the Modern Corporation

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9780132900584: Ethical Dilemmas in the Modern Corporation

This challenging and engaging approach to ethical and social issues is rich in concrete, real-world examples and cases as it examines responsible business behavior and contrasts it with less responsible policies and actions. Cavanagh and McGovern present two sets of values-social values that look to the good of society as a whole and traditional business values that focus more on self-interest, competition, and profit. The authors argue that both sets of values should be considered whenever business policies or governmental economic policies are being formulated. Ethical norms are presented and used to evaluate current issues such as: * worker participation * union-management relations * military contracts * lobbying the government and political action committees * advertising cigarettes * infant formula * children's TV * new jobs and plant closings * government regulations * nuclear power * returnable containers * toxic waste disposal and clean sites * operations in less developed countries and in South Africa * takeovers * greenmail.

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From the Publisher:

Current business issues are discussed within an ethical framework of social values and traditional business values. Responsible business behavior is contrasted with less responsible policies and actions. Useful courses in Business Ethics and Business and Society.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Businesspeople prefer to act ethically; they also want to be successful in their careers. They would like to contribute to the good of society, but not at the expense of their own enterprise. Good ethical actions most often are also good business. Fair treatment of employees generally leads to better quality goods and services. However, good ethics and profitability can be in conflict. A healthy environment requires limits on pollution, but controls can be costly.

Ethical dilemmas nearly always involve conflicting values. Social values, which look to the good of society as a whole, can conflict with traditional business values that focus on efficiency, self-interest, and competition. In Chapter Two we present two sets of values; we call them social values and traditional business values, and we argue that both should be considered whenever business policies or governmental economic policies are being formulated.

We take a position and make ethical judgments on the many issues discussed in this book. Our judgments are based on the two sets of values and the model set forth in Chapter Two. Others may not agree with our judgments. Indeed, when using the book, an instructor might be well advised not to indicate her or his own judgment, so as not to foreclose discussion. The book thus features: many examples of problems that face the businessperson, an ethical values and norms model, and an application of these values in making ethical judgments.

We offer these two sets of values as a simplified ethical framework for use by corporate executives and others who are concerned with business and society. We do not deal with many theoretical issues that a more philosophical text on ethics might include, for example, about contending views on the ultimate grounds for morality or all the elements of the process of moral reasoning. We focus instead on a straightforward presentation of two sets of values that we believe offer a healthy balance between broad social concerns and legitimate business interests. This book thus presents ethical norm's, not as merely a set of constraints, but as goals that can motivate and empower people.

This book began as a project that would treat important issues and problems that were not being covered by Economic Justice for All, the Catholic Bishops letter on the United States economy. Michael Lavelle, who was on the Committee that wrote the letter, helped conceive and worked on portions of the project. We hope this book will provide language, method, and a model that will be useful to the worker, the businessperson, and the student. The problems discussed here are faced by businesspeople every day. The book is intended to aid those who face these ethical dilemmas.

We are indebted to many who helped us during the three years it took to complete this book. The University of Detroit has been generous in providing us with physical, moral, and spiritual support over this period; we thank faculty, students, administrators, and friends who gave that help and encouragement. Boston College also provided much support for Cavanagh and the project, during 1986-87. At B.C. capable graduate students Brenda Baars, James Weinberg, and Jennifer Lau searched references, read proofs, did the index, and many additional tasks. At the University of Detroit Joseph Daoust worked with us in planning the project; Jennifer Coury, Thomas Renn, Tracy White, and Ann and James Reilly researched, proofed, and helped.

Many generous people provided helpful critiques of early drafts. Robert Betz, a successful businessman of Fairbanks, Alaska, read the entire manuscript and gave us detailed and useful comments. To him we are especially grateful. We would also like to thank those who provided very helpful comments on one or more chapters: John Staudenmaier, Leonard Weber, Margaret Betz, Joseph Raelin, Richard Dempsey, Florence Graves, Michael Bemacchi, Oswald Mascaranas, Richard Nielsen, Sandra Waddock, Walter Mein, Mary Lou Caspers, Michael McFarland, Theodore Moran, Amata Miller, James Halpin, Phil Chmielewski, Garth Hallett, Robert A. Cooke, Bruce Landesman, and Michael Payne. We thank you for catching unclarities and inconsistencies and for your many suggestions. Thanks also to Joseph Herder, Linda Albelli, and Mary Bardoni of Prentice Hall for their capable and sensitive assistance; it was invaluable.

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