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Introduction

Ethics, in its simplest, is a system of
moral principles or criteria that helps people justify the right and wrong,
affects their decision-making and lead their lives. Løgstrup emphasized that
the ethical demand is sovereign and this unconditional unspoken demand of
taking care of others exists before the immediate spontaneous meeting with
other people (as mentioned by xx), and individuals, and institutions as well,
need to respond to the demand. The essay will first briefly introduce the definition
and origins of demand of ethics from L and then demonstrate the basis and ways of
both individuals and corporations responding to ethics and explore factors that
might affect their behaviors along with some concrete examples when facing the
issues of ethical dilemma. As people are the executors of organizational
behaviors, individuals’ responsibility in institutions will also be discussed.

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The
demand of ethics

Logstrup contended that ethical demand is an
integral facet of human communication, and it is ground from the ubiquitous
human interdependence and trust. According to Fink, the source of ethical
demand normativity comes from the other. It is located in and also inherent to
the encounter between persons hence sourced from this interdependency. Individual
responds to ethical demand in binding or committing oneself. Logstrup argues
that people normally encounter the others with natural trust and through the
trust and without showing or asking another person, individual makes the demand
and cedes certain amount of his or her control to that person; and the person
being trusted has the obligation to respond to the trust of the other person by
trying to do things that are in that person’s interests. The demand requires us
determine ourselves, which also indicates the passivity implied in the
responsibility. The passivity determines and qualifies our activities or
commitments in response to take a position in the demand. The normative binding
of ethical demand is up to us and we may fail to do what we have committed us
to and can even seek to avoid being committed. 
Each individual is subjected to ethical demand as people are
interdependent and are mutually in each other’s care. However, each individual
can have different perceptions of different values and also the context in
which an individual responds to is highly variable hence different people can
behave differently and one may even behave inconsistently with oneself under
different contexts with different identities.

 

Individuals
and ethical demand

From the perspective of individual’s
ethical responsibilities, according to Levinas, responsibility does not emerge
as self-preoccupation but emerge as a result of being subject to unwilled
address of the other and it requires an interdependent understanding of ethical
relations to the other that does not merely rely on the casual links between a
doer and a deed. He also introduced persecution by the other, which refers to
the range of actions that are imposed on individuals without his or her will,
to suggests that the ethical involves passing from the outrage undergone to
the responsibility for the persecutor, from suffering to expiation for the
other and hence the responsibility arises as the demand upon the
persecuted, and whether or not one may kill in response to persecution serves
as its central dilemma.

 

James Rest conducted a four
components model of moral action that underling reasoning and procedures of
individual’s response to ethical demand. The first one is moral sensitivity,
which refers to recognize or aware the presence of an ethical issue. And
problem recognition requires individual to consider how the consequence of his
or her behaviors may affect others hence empathy and perspective skills are
essential for this moral action component. However, certain factors can prevent
individuals recognizing ethical issues. For instance, one may choose to keep
silent to avoid controversy therefore be reluctant to use moral justice or
values to guide his or her decision-making. Xx proposes some suggestions such
as using moral terminology to discuss and evaluate an issue, and making the
issue more salient to increase the moral intensity of it, hence enhance
individual’s ethical sensitivity and become more likely to respond ethically.

 

The second component is moral judgment.

Individuals make judgment of right or wrong actions from the option generated
in the first component. And Kohlberg introduced the moral development process
by which individual progressed up the stages, engaging in more moral reasoning and
becoming less self-centered and developing broader perspective of moral.

Another cognitive moral development model can provide significant insights into
the decision making process. For instance, contextual variables such as other’s
behaviors as well as rules and regulations can play a critical role in shaping
ethical behaviors of individuals. Also, education can also foster moral
reasoning hence enhances moral development.

 

Moral motivation is another factor that can
affect how individual respond to ethical demand as decision makers need to be
motived to follow through their choices especially when encounter with ethical
dilemma, in which moral values often conflicts with other significant
values. Reward and emotions play an important role in moral motivation.

Therefore, creating ethical rewarding environment to reduce or compensate
individual’s costs of behaving ethically can encourage them to ethically
respond to the demand. EG..

 

Also, executing moral actions takes
character and positive character traits such as virtues or other personal
characteristics help to put moral choices into actions and contribute to
ethical follow-through. For example, courage helps action-takers to implement
their plans regardless the risks and costs that might occur. And for internally
oriented people, they are more motivated to do the right things and persist in
ethical tasks compared to the externals, as internals believe they have control
over their lives and can determine what might happen to them while externals
believe lives are out of their control hence they are more susceptible to
contextual pressure.

 

Institutions
and ethical demand

Corporate social responsibility can be a
commercial opportunity or a source of competitive advantage for organizations,
and act in a socially responsible way can help organizations to establish good
reputation and improve organizational performance. Therefore, consider the
organization as a collective, it should ensure that it (or people in the
organization) behaviors socially ethically responsible. And organization needs
to understand the composition of the present ethical organizational culture and
constantly improve it and ensure that it is sustainable so that become embedded
in the organization. Clearly known and usable codes of ethics and policies can
be a sensible guidance for people in the organization to identify and solve
ethical problems, make ethical decisions and behave ethically. It is also
essential to ensure people are well equipped and educated in order to deal with
ethical problems; therefore, ethics training and education should be easily
available. Moreover, ethical motivations such as reward system can help to
reinforce ethical behaviors.

 

Business ethics require organizations be
socially responsible to various groups of people, which include their
shareholders, employees, customers and the society. However, social
responsibility for one group can conflict with other groups and lead to ethical
dilemmas. According to Black, the British public considered tax avoidance among
the most important ethics issues that business ought to address. Companies seek
to minimize their tax liability through tax planning and tax avoiding and keeping
tax costs to a minimum and being consistent with their responsibility of
maximizing shareholders’ value. Although tax avoidance is legitimate and
companies may therefore be complying with the law, avoiding tax is considered
as avoiding social obligation because paying a fair amount of tax in the
countries where multinational companies operate is seen as socially responsible
as a way to provide funds for public service from which companies also benefit
either directly or indirectly. And tax avoidance can make companies vulnerably
be accused of being greedy and selfish hence damage their reputation and lose
public trust. Take Starbucks and Amazon for examples, these two multinational
companies paid so little tax in the UK by paying tax on profits rather than
revenues and their tax policies lead to vilification and boycotting hence
damaging their reputations and were regarded very poorly in terms of corporate
governance. Also, as xx mentions, 98 of FTSE 100 companies take advantage of
tax haven to reduce their corporate tax liability. Therefore, it is argued that
business needs to make clearance for new scheme of tax avoidance in advance to
give clarification of what is fair, and tax policies should be underpinned
by the guiding ethical principles of accountability, transparency and
consistency and ensure that corporate tax contributions are demonstrably fair
return to society.

 

However, from the micro view, corporates
compromise of individuals therefore decisions are not made by organizations but
by the people in them. Hence, individuals in the organization matter a lot and
they are guided by their personal ethical values and also organizational
culture’s ethical values.

 

Individual
in organizations and ethical demand

In terms of individual’s intension to
engage ethical behaviors in organizational decision-making, the concordance
between organizational and individual ethics can be a good determinant of
manager’s level of ethical decisions. According to Elango, individual can use
both personal and organizational values in resolving ethical dilemmas and the
more consistent exists between these sets of values, the more influential of
these values are in shaping response of individuals to ethical dilemma hence
increasing the likelihood of managers making higher level of ethical decisions.

Also, organizational cultures, norms and practices can influence employee’s
ethical or unethical behaviors. It has been found that employees were less
likely to act unethically when the organization or the top management displays
ethical behaviors. For both employees and employers, their ethical
responsibilities involve being socially ethical responsible when pursuing
organizational maximum profits. One area of ethical considerations for
employers is how to balance their expenses with employees’ health and safety
interests. For instance, in manufacture plants, employees always engage in
physical demanding works and deal with dangerous equipment; therefore,
employers need to ensure that the workload is not profoundly overwhelmed for
employees, the workplace for employees meet the strong safety standards of
federal requirement and priority on eliminating major accidents is taken.

However, some organizations opt to save money by avoiding these ethical
responsibilities for employees’ benefits and cutting corners on safety
controls, equipment and employee’s training process and health care insurance.

For employees, as would-be whistle-blowers, they may encounter within the
ethical dilemma of reporting or hiding when they find out their organization’s
wrongdoing. As mentioned by Malek, reporting misconduct is morally required for
employees in business contexts as a professional obligation to colleagues and
the society; however, individual have duties of loyalty to the company he or
she is employed and the negative consequences such as being fired and being
ostracized play a significant role in employee’s ethical consideration and
evaluation of the decision to blow the whistle as they can affect
whistleblower’s career. Malek also mentions some plausible alternatives for
employees who are aware the misconduct to achieve the benefits of blowing the
whistle but also minimize the risks of doing this. For example, reporting as a
group can offer blowers some extents of protections from the negative
consequences of blowing the whistle. And if it is the case that the misconduct
is minor and the employee tenure is relatively short, it will be ethically
acceptable for this would-be whistle-blower to wait until he or she find the
new position and then report the misconduct. Moreover, consider a person who
would keep silent when he or she is aware of the misconduct of the organization
if employed by the organization, without the identity of the company’s employer
but as a normal individual, a third party, he or she might choose to report
rather than hide the disclosure from the public in order to be socially
responsible, and there are Whistleblower Award for outsiders, which can serve
as a motivator as well.

 

Conclusion
and limitations

In conclusion, the demand of ethics comes
from the interdependency and trusts between people and it evokes ranges of
responses of different individuals and organizations based on their own moral
breakdowns. However, ethical dilemma may occur when individuals or
organizations are in a situational conflict of obeying one moral imperative but
at the same time transgressing another; therefore, both individuals and
institutions may behave in a way to avoid the ethical demand and an individual
might behave differently when he or she is in the organizational contexts. And
in order to encourage people to behavior socially responsible, institutions and
the society need to provide standard and usable common norms and policies, and ensure
that individuals have an ethical motivator and proficient ethical trainings to
guide their decision-makings. However, the essay referred to limited literatures
and mainly based on review works of lo and ll interpretation of ethical demands
to explore the ethical responsibilities of individuals, institutions and
individuals in the organization, but it can be argued that people lives in the
society, which can be considered as a big institution; therefore, there might
be some overlaps between the demonstration of individual’s ethical behaviors
and their responsibilities in the organization.

 

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