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How Personal Can Ethics Get Essay


This paper is about the case study, “How Personal Can ethics Get”. This paper discusses the dilemmas that Valerie Young has to face at her Chicago based fragrance employer named Wisson. Secondly, I will discuss what I would do if I were in the same dilemma as Valerie. Next, it discusses how personal differences and preference can impact organizations ethics. Lastly, this paper discusses how organizational policies and procedures can impact organizational ethics.

How Personal Can Ethics Get?

This case focuses on the ethical dilemmas that Valerie Young has to deal with her employer Wisson. Valerie is an immigrant worker that is currently working in the United States on a work visa. Valerie has uncovered unethical practices by her manager Lionel Waters. Valerie has discovered that Lionel Waters was violating Wissons company policy that no employee should take personal payments, bribes or kickbacks to customers or suppliers or the receipt of kickbacks, bribes and personal kickbacks are prohibited. Valerie has discovered documentation showing that Waters is receiving personal kickbacks from two fragrance companies through his personal company. This concerns Valerie since her division only receives projects from these two fragrance companies now instead of the other fragrance companies they have worked for in the past. She did not understand this why they did not work with the other companies anymore.

She claimed that the other companies had some great project but these companies did not receive consideration from Wisson. Waters demonstrates the self-serving principle of might-equals right, which states you do whatever you are powerful enough to impose on others without respect to socially acceptable behaviors(). Waters demonstrates this ethical principle by willingly funneling kickback money into his personal business account, which is a violation of company policy. Waters is powerful enough to receive kickbacks from the fragrance companies and keep it hidden since he is an executive at Wisson.

Ethical Dilemmas that Valerie Faces

Valerie was making copies at work when she found some documents on the printer that belonged to Waters. The documents were on letterheads from
Waters personal consultation company. On these documents, Valerie found out that Waters has been collect kickbacks from two fragrance companies. Valerie was very stunned about her findings and she was not sure what to do. Valerie was recently accepted to a Master of Science program and did not want to jeopardize her education nor her job. She decided to keep this quit for the reason that she did not know who she could trust. Valerie is currently in the United States on a work visa. Due to this fact she must have a job in order to remain in the United States. She discusses her findings with her boyfriend who she feels is the only person she can trust. He suggests that she keeps her findings quite until she has completed school and has secured a job since she is on a work visa. Valerie uses an ethical intensity in making her decision.

The ethical intensity she displays is the magnitude of consequences, which is defined as the harm or benefit accruing to individuals affected by a decision or behavior(). She displays magnitude of consequences since her decision will affect if she will be able to stay in the United States on her work visa or if she will be forced to leave if she brings forward her findings and loses her job at Wission. Valerie also displays the self-serving principle of hedonist, which you do whatever is in your own self interest(). She displays this principle because she knows that it would be unethical to keep her findings quite but she puts what would benefit her the most first. She decided to keep her findings quite at this time so she could finish her studies and run the risk of losing her job.

What Valerie should do?

If I were in the same dilemma as Valerie I would handle the situation in a different way. If I had found the personal documents that were violating company policy I would bring that information to the attention of my superiors. I would send this information anonymously. I would do it anonymously due to the fact that I do not want my identity revealed at this time. This would be important for the reason that if my identity were revealed I would run the risk of losing my job due to retaliation from Waters and associates that were inside this situation. I would not want to run this risk given that I am on a work visa and would be forced to leave the United States and jeopardize my education if I lose my job due to retaliation from any insiders.

How Personal Differences and Preference Can Impact Organizational Ethics

Ethics is defined as the study of moral values, principles and rules, including the determination of standards of conduct and obligations for individuals and organizations(). This definition implies that one individual may make see one thing ethical while another may see it unethical. Individuals develop their own code of personal ethics based upon a wide variety of sources and belief systems. Virtually everybody acquires and develops their sense of right and wrong via their parents and parental influences(origin). Since there are many views of what is ethical and unethical, Lawerence Kohlberg developed the stages of moral development. This model demonstrates how an individual will make decision on ethical dilemmas within an organization. Kohlberg suggest that an individual progresses through these stages during their lifetime. This model is made up of six stages of moral development, which are divided into three levels of development. The first level of development is referred to as the “pre-conventional” level. At this level, an individual evaluates ethical issues based on idea of avoiding punishment and seek personal reward.

The second level is termed “conventional” level. At this stage an individual evaluates ethical issues on the basis of the fairness to others and a desire to conform to societal rules and expectations. The highest level is referred to as the “principled level. At this level an individual is likely to apply principles, such as utilitarian, deontological, or justice, to ethical issues in attempt to resolve them(referece). According to Kohlberg, a person in the principled level is likely to look into themselves rather than be influenced by organizational expectations(reference). Business ethics is defined as principles and standards that guide behavior in the world of business(reference). The stages of moral development can be used to show how individuals at different levels will handle ethical situations within in organization.

We can also use the stakeholder and shareholder to express personal differences. Individuals who use the shareholder perspective focuses on decisions that are in the owners’ best interest. Individuals who use the shareholder perspective feels that ethical business practices are ones that make the most money. Individuals who back the stakeholder perspective believe that companies should consider the needs and interests of multiple stakeholder groups, not just those with direct financial stake in the organization’s profits and losses(business). In other words, organizations that use this perspective consider how decisions will affect individuals on the inside and outside of the organization.

How Organizational Policies and Procedures can Impact Organizational Ethics

Since individuals have different views and perceptions on ethical issues many organizations have created policies and procedures. These policies are usually termed as the organizations code of conduct. Codes of conduct are formal policies, procedures and enforcement mechanism that outline moral and ethical expectations of an organization(reference). These policies are important to an organization since they lay out the norms and belief of the organization. Policies and procedures allow organizations to handle ethical issues effectively as the rise within in the organization. Policies allow an organization to deal with an ethical matter in a uniform manner since the organization has outlined the norms and beliefs of the organization. Individuals within an organization may have a different set of norms and beliefs resulting in ethical issues being resolved in ways that the organization may deem unethical. Policies and procedures are vital to an organization culture.


In Conclusion, this case study presents a dilemma that individuals experience on a day-to-day basis’s. It is important for a person to deal with ethical issues in an ethical way. This case also shows how personal differences affect how ethical issues are dealt with. If Valerie was not an immigrant worker on a visa she may have approached this ethical issue in a different manner. It is also important for an organization to have policies and procedures in place to deal with ethical issues as they arise within an organization. Policies are also insure ethical dilemmas are resolved in a manner that the society deems ethical. This will insure that the organizational will thrive in the future.

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