Unethical Behavior or Not!
Organizations are all comprised of what makes them who they are; the people. People are all comprised of different make-ups and people are what make businesses what they are which brings me to the point of this discussion; Unethical behavior within organizations. Unethical behavior within organizations has been occurring for centuries and it is what led to their ultimate demise. Unethical behavior is the beginning of the end in some companies and in some of those it results in the ruin of what started out to be a good thing.
Some of these companies started out as small prosperous businesses that later grew into large dominate organizations for example; Enron, and of course WorldCom. These businesses began with good intentions and ended up internally combusting. All of it was due to the result of GREED. Greed is a disease, and has plagued several organizational leaders over time and caused them to go against their good ethics and morals. There are many opinions as to why people commit the acts that they do but the bottom line is that money will sometimes bring out the evil in the best of people and Leaders of Corporate America are not immune.
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Background: The beginning phases of WorldCom began in 1983 with a plan to create a long distance telephone carrier service named (Long Distance Discount Service) Mr. Ebbers was one of the major investor’s and later became the CEO. Like most businesses this one was no different and grew over the years and changed the name of the company to WorldCom. WorldCom grew into a worldwide known company. WorldCom became the second-largest long-distance telephone company in America (Daniels 2005). At first it seemed as though WorldCom was going to become the world’s most renowned company for the telecommunication community.
However, it became known as one of the largest bankruptcy filings in U. S. history. This all happened because of one brave young lady named Nancy Cooper. Once Mrs. Cooper realized there were unethical practices happening within the company, she began her own investigation which ultimately led to the fall of the self-made empire. There were three major unethical behavior’s committed by WorldCom’s executives. Although many ethical violations were committed, I will discuss three of those ethical violations just to portray a better understanding of how unethical these executives became. . Cooking the books; WorldCom chief executive officer was involved in illegal. Accounting irregularities consisted of many different violations b. Counting profits two times and concealed expenses when reporting to the SEC. c. Coercion (threatening) of its employees WorldCom basically concealed more than 6 billion in debt which in itself is an ethical illusion. Mr. Ebbers used company stocks as collateral for both personal and loans and It was very obvious that WorldCom couldn’t operate in an ethical environment nor could they be trusted with leadership of his nature.
The federal Government made unethical business practices a more regulated environment which ultimately caused businesses managers to be more transparent and operate in a more ethical environment. Deontology Defined: The ethical study of morals, duties and rights with an approach that focuses on the rightness or wrongness of actions themselves, as opposed to the rightness or wrongness of the consequences of those actions. While evaluating WorldCom’s ethical problems using the deontological Framework, it is apparent that he and members of his company acted in an immoral way. However, it wasn’t this way in the beginning because even when Mr.
Ebbers first began his step into the point of no return, some had even brought up the fact that something had gone array. If it had not been for the professionalism and ethical thinking on Mrs. Cynthia Cooper’s behalf, WorldCom would have continued in their demise and therefore causing more hardships for employees, stockholders and the business world as a whole. Assessing Kant’s point of view: As we assess Mr. Immanuel Kant’s point of view using his Categorical Imperative we must first understand what Categorical Imperative Mr. Kant meant by his theory. His theory is a moral theory and is a form of deontology.
The term, ‘deontology’ means duty. The theory of deontology states that we are morally obliged to act in accordance with a certain set of principles/rules regardless of the outcome. (nuig 2005) According Kant, Categorical Imperative means; an action is moral if, in a situation where every person in the world who could follow the maxim and perform the action was to go ahead and follow that maxim and perform the action, the continual occurrence of this action would not be hindered in any way by any other circumstances. (Nuin 2005) Ebber’s allowed his wrong doings become moral in his own mind.
He reconciled his failures and deceit in his own mind to the point of where it felt like it was the right thing he was doing. We have to remember that with deceit comes judgment day. We can deceive many by words and by deeds, but we will all have to face the choir one day when our deceptive nature is put on display in which was the case with WorldCom and its executives. As we apply Kant’s Categorical Imperative to the aforementioned issues addressed earlier in this paper, we find that on several occasions that false entries were input into the company’s accounting system.
These entries were not only fraudulent but became an act of normalcy because of the guiltless feelings it left in their minds. Secondly, we address how the company was guilty of counting profits two times and concealed expenses when reporting to the SEC. These practices were normal everyday operations for WorldCom, due to the lies upon lies and the mindset of the people who were involved. They all were guilty but through coercion and threats, the actions were justified because they reasoned it out in their minds.
Lastly, we address the coercion of the employees; After all the illegal activities were brought to surface and the word was out on the town so to speak, the Executives made idle threats to the employees and in some cases told them that they were as guilty as anyone else because of what they did. However, they did what they were told and felt just like Kant’s theory suggested; If everyone else is doing it then we will be ok so we can just go on and commit ourselves to the task at hand. Conclusion At a time as in today’s business world this case renders the question of ; Who can we trust? and how can we trust them?
If we can answer these questions about an organization thru the eyes of Deontology and by viewing it thru the views of the Categorical Imperative, we can better understand why people act and do the greedy things that they do. Let’s face it, Greed has become America’s ruin and I believe that it’s a disease that cannot be cured because as long as there are humans around, there will be desires for a brighter tomorrow and desires for things of greater importance and a desire for lustrous things that we cannot afford therefore creating Greed in the current state and doing anything we can do to see to it that we satisfy our Greedy desires.
http://www.allwords.com/word-deontology.html retrieved 13 October 2012 M M Scharff. (2005). WorldCom: A Failure of Moral and Ethical Values. Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, 10(3), 35-47. Retrieved 13 October 2012, from ProQuest http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/rights.html retrieved 13 October 2012 Nuig (2005). Kantian Ethics (Deontology). Business Ethics, Retrieved from http://ww2.it.nuigalway.ie/staff/h_melvin/prof_skill/L3_handout.pdf