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MGT 216 Week 1 Discussion Question 1

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Why should an individual study ethics? In what ways are ethical theories relevant to
today’s workplace? Explain your answer.
Response:
Business ethics tells us whether or not the behavior that we engage in is moral and
right. In business we often have conflicting goals. For example, we may care about product
safety, but if these actions increase costs then we may be tempted to cut corners. These actions
may harm individuals or groups due to our profit motive. Another possible danger of attempting
to maximize profits is environmental damage.
Businesses that create environmental damage are unsustainable in the long run. In this
case the decision to run a business ethically is not just a moral decision but an economic one.
While an unsustainable business may make money in the short term, a society filled with them is
doomed to failure.
Business ethics can also be profitable. Businesses that have significant ethical lapses
(Enron, Arthur Andersen) can be penalized in the marketplace as customers refuse to do business
with them.
An example of an unethical business practice that I have witnessed is a company that
was constantly cash-poor. In the accounting department we were asked to routinely reject
invoices from suppliers, claiming that goods were delivered late, not at all, or in unusable
condition. This practice was used to buy time on the invoices, so that the company could pay
invoices late without incurring late fees. This was an unethical person who led the department, so
by the time I arrived, the entire department of clerks thought this was standard practice.

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