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Crane & Matten, Business ethics, 3rd Edition, Chapter 1

Suggested answers to the Think Theory exercises associated with the Ethics in Action boxes

THINK THEORY 1 A good definition is an important starting point for any theory. The one we have given for business ethics is mainly a definition of business ethics as an academic subject. If you were trying to define an organizations business ethics, what definition would you use? Try writing it in the form, An organizations business ethics are . . .

Simply turning the academic definition of business ethics on its head renders the following: An organizations business ethics is its practice of addressing issues of right and wrong in business situations, activities, and decisions. An alternative definition: An organizations business ethics is the way individual employees, and the company as a whole, engage in practice with issues of right and wrong in both everyday situations and decision-making.

THINK THEORY 2 If, as we have argued, business ethics is not an oxymoron, then is it necessarily true of any business, regardless on the industry it is in? Think about the reasons for and against regarding Coco de Mer as an ethical organization. Would the same arguments hold for an ethical land mine manufacturer, or an ethical animal testing laboratory?

Some reasons for the company being an ethical organization include: An organization can be seen to be ethical if its products are produced in an ethical manner, regardless of the nature of the product. Helping to promote safe sex practices with women around the world. Trying to change the image of erotica products as something that all men and women can enjoy, that these products are not just the tools of the seedy underbelly of the sex industry sex is something that can be healthy and positive for all. Some reasons for being unethical: Many products are too expensive to be enjoyed by the average individual. This might suggest that ethical sex is only available to the wealthy. Some of the products for sale are designed to be used in practices that some would regard as immoral, such as bondage, anal sex, sadomasochism, and other fetishes.

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Crane & Matten, Business ethics, 3rd Edition, Chapter 1

The language and imagery on the website and in the store may be regarded as offensive. Models on the website are all women in a state of undress, and frequently in bondage. This may be seen as exploitative and/or shameful from some perspectives. It also arguably contradicts some of their statements about love and equality, given that the site does not feature men in the same way. There are no age controls on the website despite the adult material advertised.

If the argument is always based on whether the company produces products ethically, and that there is an ethical justification for their products within a particular context or time, then there may be grounds for considering land mine producers or animal testing laboratories to be ethical. Arguments along these lines might include: The production of land mines is not unethical if it is done in a time of war, and the products are used against tanks etc. (e.g. no anti-personnel mines) to protect the citizens of a nation against an aggressor. With the animal testing laboratory, actions could be argued to be ethically justifiable if a) every possible action is taken to reduce the pain and suffering, and to improve the quality of life of the animals, and b) they are being used for tests critical to their own species or to humanity (as some would argue humans are more important and therefore justify the death of animals).

THINK THEORY 3 Capital punishment and topless sunbathing are interesting issues to think about globalization theory and cultural dimensions of ethics, but have little to do with business responsibility as such. Can you think of some similar examples that a business might have to deal with?

There are cultural differences almost everywhere that businesses may have to deal with. Food provides one set of potential stumbling blocks that can greatly affect the business: global restaurant chains may face culturally-specific issues in different markets due to religious custom (such as selling pork in Muslim or Jewish areas, using beef fat for French fries in Hindu areas). Another example with potentially-significant consequences is in simple non-verbal communication. A nod of the head usually means yes, and a shake, no; but in Bulgaria this is apparently reversed, with a shake of the head indicating yes and a nod, no.

THINK THEORY 4 Explain the link between a rise of globalization and the surge in counterfeit products. From a cultural and legal perspective, how would you evaluate counterfeiting as an ethical issue for businesses (a) in the West and (b) in the developing world? What potential solutions could we think of to address counterfeiting?

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Crane & Matten, Business ethics, 3rd Edition, Chapter 1

As globalization breaks down barriers, making cross-border trade easier, and increases the volume of goods being shipped, so the opportunities for crossing borders with counterfeit goods also presents itself. Also, the deterritorialized nature of globalization makes bringing counterfeiters to justice more difficult. As demand for expensive branded goods grows, so there is a greater incentive for counterfeiters to supply cheap alternatives. Suggestions on addressing counterfeiting could focus on demand and/or supply side, and could be punitive or educational. In the West (demand side), counterfeiting is an ethical issue in at least these ways. Legal: Selling fake goods has been declared unethical by society inasmuch as it is illegal. Selling counterfeits of substandard quality is an additional crime. Also, firms in the west that have invested lots of money to develop a product expect a return on their intellectual property: hence the patent. Breaking the patent is theft. Cultural: Awareness-raising on counterfeiting and its attendant problems is an effective way both of tackling the problem and improving brand image. As the AntiCounterfeiting Group recognizes, as long as there is demand, supply will continue. In the developing world (supply side), counterfeiting is an ethical issue for businesses in at least these ways: Legal: There are often links between counterfeiting and illegal activities like people smuggling. Cultural: For businesses, the ethical issue here is that the line between real and fake is less clear. Issues like intellectual property are therefore relevant.

THINK THEORY 5 Consider each of the Millennium Development Goals and set out how business could reasonably contribute to progress towards them.

There are numerous possible answers. Here are just some examples: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. o Provide local employment, engage in local poverty-eradication programmes. Achieve universal primary education. o Focus philanthropic activities on primary education. Promote gender equality and empower women. o Rigorous approach to non-discriminatory employment practice, including gender training; employ suitably qualified women in leadership positions. Reduce child mortality. o Provide good health-care benefits for employees where these are not stateprovided. If there is no clinic in the area, work with partners (e.g. government) to provide one, providing funding and/or in-kind support. o Support advertising campaigns with money, on products, as appropriate. Improve maternal health.

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Crane & Matten, Business ethics, 3rd Edition, Chapter 1 o As above.

Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. o As above. Ensure environmental sustainability. o Adopt industry best-practice as standard. o Get offices and/or plants environmentally certified across global operations (e.g. ISO 14000). Develop a global partnership for development. o Play a role with partners like government and civil society. Moreover, where appropriate, consider seconding staff to government ministries if their skills would be of use in capacity-building.

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Oxford University Press, 2010. All rights reserved.

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