Ethical dilemmas are complex situations encountered by workers and managers in contemporary organizations that result in a conflict of moral requirements. Ethical dilemmas require abiding by communal, organizational, or religious traditions to make a choice that is morally difficult. Ethical decision-making addresses moral predicaments to allow the implementation of a decision that serves a common good.
The Ethical Dilemma
An example of an ethical dilemma that a company may face is whether to recall a flawed product that already in the market. Indeed, the unfit product is likely to affect the health and wellness of its consumers, therefore, it being in the market is not ethical. Nevertheless, the decision to recall such a product may be difficult of a firm because doing do would tarnish the image of the company, destroy consumers’ trust that had been built for many years, and cause significant financial losses. In 2006, consumers of Bausch & Lomb developed eye infection after consuming one of the company’s products. The right thing for the entity is to recall the product, but it would face the mentioned challenges if it does so.
Plan of Action
The decision-making process guide managers to resolve ethical dilemmas by examining available options by selecting the right course of action. Per Elm and Radin (2012), the step-by-step process of ethical decision-making is preferred by managers and workers because it guarantees thoughtful and informed decisions that promote organizational success. To resolve the ethical dilemma highlighted above, the decision making should follow a series of steps as discussed below.
The first step is identifying the appropriate decision. Managers have to ascertain the nature of decision that they need to make. In the mentioned case, the corporation could choose to recall the contact lens and fix the defect or remain quiet and keep selling the product to its customers to avoid losing money, customers, and good reputation.
The second step entails collecting information. Indeed, relevant information is required to make a decision. In ethical decision making, managers identify key sources of internal and external information to be used in making an informed decision concerning the issue (Anbalagan, 2011). In the present case, managers could ask the production unit for adequate information about the defect and interview the clients to establish whether the contact lenses were responsible for the reported eye infections.
The third step is the identification of management actions alternatives. For instance, in the above case, the management can require complaining customers to demonstrate the eye infections resulted from the use of the company’s contact lenses. The other alternative is to hold ground and claim that only random customers are affected by the contact lenses. Consequently, the management can decide to recall and replace the defective lenses.
The fourth step is weighing and evaluating evidence acquired during data collection stage. The evidence is aligned to the options outlined in step three to guide the process of decision making. The need to protect the customer or enjoy sales is weighed against the available data present. The managers subsequently select the most appropriate option that serves a universal good.
The fifth step is choosing one option among the alternatives. The suitable option is to recall the product immediately. If the product is harmful, the managers must be honest, recall the product, and apologize to the consumers affected by the eye infection.
Step six envisages taking action and implementing the decision to recall the product. In the case, the company should first identify the defective batch, and then the customers who purchased the faulty contact lenses. Phone calls can then be made or emails sent to the concerned customers to ask them return the defective products in exchange for new products. Lastly, the management should formally apologize to the customers.
The seventh step is to review the decision and its consequences. The best way to monitor the consequences is to establish whether sales and the company’s reputation are negatively affected. Recalling the defective contact lenses is ethical because it upholds social values and serves a universal good. The company protects its reputation by preventing criminal liability that may arise from disgruntled customers. Consequently, the company addresses the safety of its customers by allowing them return contact lenses that present safety risks and can have serious health implication if they continue staying in the market.
Ethical decisions often generate and sustain trust between a company and its consumers. Moreover, ethical decisions demonstrate the ability of a company to foster respect, accountability, and fairness. In the ethical case presented, decision to recall defective lenses by the company upholds social values by protecting consumers from harm of eye problems. Indeed, the seven-step ethical decision model discussed sets the foundation for businesses to execute ethical decisions.
Anbalagan, Chinniah. (2011). Impact of international business ethics, economic systems and intellectual property rights in business and management. International Journal of Marketing and Management Research, 2(1), 2229-6883.
Elm, D. & Tara, R. (2012). Ethical decision making: Special or no different? Journal of Business Ethics, 107(3), 313–329.