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Ethics, Morality, and Legality Essay

Ethics are defined as individual perceptions of what is right or wrong, good or bad based on an individuals morals and values and also based on social values. Too often bribery is mistaken for lobbying. Bribery is illegal and short-term while lobbying is legal and a more permanent solution. There exists certain loopholes in law that allow for bribery to take place in the name of lobbying as was the case for the Winter Olympics Scandal where Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) members gave gifts to International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials in a bid to influence them to pick salt lake city as the venue for the winter Olympics.

Punishment for violating ethical and legal codes should be punitive as well as rehabilitative. However reforms should not be limited to the affected person to prevent future occurrences. Ethics, Morality, and Legality Bribery and lobbying are two phenomena that are very often misinterpreted such that it easy to confuse bribery for lobbying. According to the Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, lobbying is “to promote, as a project, or secure the passage of, as legislation, by influencing public officials” (lobbying, n. d. ).

Bribery on the other hand is regarded as illegal, but there has been a great debate as to whether bribery should be considered as unethical or illegal. However, most scholars and business people regard bribery as a phenomenon that ought to be regarded as unethical. There is a difference between these two phenomena that should be explored. Harstard and Svensson, argues that through lobbying firms can be able to change the rules to their advantage (Harstard and Svensson, 2005). As an option the firm may prefer to offer a bureaucrat a bribe so that he may bend the rules for them so that they may avoid the cost of complying.

While lobbying results in a change, a bribe only bends the rules. However while a change of rules is more permanent the bureaucrat does not commit to not asking for a bribe in future. Based on a simple growth model, firms tend to prefer to bribe when the expected development is low but prefer to lobby when the expected development is high (Harstard and Svensson, 2005). The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (15 U. S. C. sec. 78) stipulates that it is illegal for US firms to give bribes locally or internationally. The act defines a bribe as an illegal payment meant to influence or sway an official to award or maintain a business activity.

So there has to be possible profit from any venture for which a firm allegedly bribes in order for it qualify as a bribe. In the case of alleged bribery by members of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) to the members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to select Salt Lake City as the 2002 Winter Olympics’ venue the committee could have defended themselves in the following way: the committee could have argued that while it is illegal to give bribes, it was not illegal to give gifts and in fact the IOC rules provided for gift offering so long as the value of the gifts did not exceed 150 dollars.

Ethics are defined as the beliefs about what is right or wrong, good and bad and is based on an individual’s values and morals and how the behavior is perceived by society. Legal principles are derived from the society’s or a firm’s ethical principles. Since ethical and legal principles are what drive firms and societies in general, they are therefore important. Violation of ethical and legal principles should be punishable by legal sanctions such as imprisonment (Rawl, 1994).

The former Volkswagen personnel director Klaus Volkert who sentenced to two years in prison for involvement in a bribery scandal that financed prostitutes and exotic holidays for union officials in order to get their support in management plans. However punishment should not be the only motive behind legal sanctions, the authorities should also aim at rehabilitating the affected person (Punishment, 2003).

The remedies should not be limited to punishment of the affected employee rather there should be reforms in the entire organization in order to avert future scandals and to create a better business culture. Ethics drive organizations and societies. Each organization has its own code of ethics which must be followed by its personnel. Often bribery is mistaken for lobbying and might be used by organizations in a bid to achieve its goals. However bribery is illegal and goes against ethics and law. Those who engage in bribery should be punished. References

Harstad, B. , Svensson, J. (2005). Bribe or Lobby: It’s a Matter of Development. Retrieved July 18 2010, from, http://www. kellogg. northwestern. edu/base/papers/harstad. pdf Lobbying. (n. d. ) Merriam Webster Dictionary. Retrieved July 18 2010, from, http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/lobbying Punishment. (2003). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved July 18 2010, from, http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/punishment/ Rawls, J. (1994). Punishment. Retrieved July 18 2010, from, http://ethics. sandiego. edu/Applied/deathpenalty/Rawls. html

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