Topic: Textbook: Ethics Case: Little Enough or Too Much
The actual situation
A large chemical factory has hired Bryan to oversee the construction of production facilities for a new product. The plant for the chemical had been set up on a land adjacent to east river and permits to dispose waste into the river had been received. Bryan was, however, concerned since the permit allowed X chemicals to release more waste than anticipated due to the removal of a production process by the regulatory agency. The company had always stated it would do anything to protect the environment. Despite this concern, the company and all employees are hopeful that the new product will do well as orders are streaming in and production costs are low. Bryan fears that the waste will cause problems for the factory in the future and approaches bill, the plant supervisor, who dismisses the concern as he says the company had already done its preparation and any emerging issues were going to be solved as they emerged since interruptions would mean costs for the and clients switching to other competitors. He warned him of the implications of losing his job, but Bryan feels that he has to forward the matter to the vice president.
The possible courses of action
There are three possible courses of action that I can ravel from the situation involving the company and Bryan.
The company can decide to fix the problem before they continue with further construction, but that will also mean stopping production of the lubricant and incurring losses and extra costs.
The company can also ignore the concerns and continue making the chemical arguing that they had been allowed to by the regulatory to continue. They had already met the required standard requirements set by the agency. In the end, concerns will come up, and they will have to comply or shut down the processors due to pressure from the community and environmental rights groups.
Bryan is also in a position to express his concerns to the vice president in a move to make the processing sustainable and accumulate profits for longer periods. This position will put him at crossroads with the employees as well as the supervisor if he fails to convince them, with the vice president, which might lead to loss of his job.
The ethical impacts of each alternative at different levels of analysis
In the first option, fixing the problem would be beneficial at the macro level to society since it would reduce the emptying of harmful materials into the ecosystem. It would in turn improve the quality of life while interacting with the river by the society. Checking the amount of waste released into the river would mean reduced health risks and save the company from having to spend on lawsuits from environmental agencies. Having an outlook of environmental sensitiveness, the company can capitalize on it by carrying out the correct procedures which could be a positive return in the long run. Going ahead with the construction of the additional stage means delays in the production of the lubricant. This would also mean defeat by the competitors, losses, loss of jobs and those bonuses which the employees hope to get.
In option number two, if the company chooses to ignore the issue of building the additional stage to reduce emissions, the impact to and from society would be negativity and hostility. Upon being discovered by the environmental activists, the company might lose its credibility in a bid to check its effects to the environment thus be viewed as less ethical. Doing nothing by the company means more profits before they are and more bonuses for the employees especially because the company has not been doing well in the past. Some of the company’s employees might sympathize with Bryan and push the company to follow proper procedures, but most would buy into the idea of good pay and thus see him as a barrier to achieving their goals. From my point of view, choosing to make the extra stage will push profits and production down and costs will be high. Stakeholders will not be satisfied if that happens, and neither will the Vice president, who might choose to ignore it because of the implications and the adverse effects it might have on the company and to himself. The company will gain a share in the market and the competitors will feel pressured to change, produce competitive lubricants or bow out. However, the company’s outlook on environmental issue handling will be destroyed once their mistake is discovered.
In option number three, Bryan can choose to go ahead with his agenda and even approach the vice-president, and as a result, has positive and sustainable implications in the future both economically and environmentally. Bryan’s idea may however, cost him his job if the company and the supervisor see him as a hindrance to achieving economic breakthrough on the individual level. Bryan may also choose to follow protocol and established rules until the mistakes start unraveling in the long run, when he can choose to leave.
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The alternative courses of action that each of the four approaches to ethical behavior would favor
The Utilitarian Approach: The best point of action would be if we look at the problem from the economic point of view from the company. Gaining the maximum from the lubricant would be the best but the society and later implications would be diverse.
The justice approach: Since the company already meets the regulatory body concerns, the company should not be pressured to do anything.
The human rights approach: Keeping the stakeholders happy is paramount as well as observing environmental regulations and standards.
The individualism approach: The supervisor’s insistence on keeping the system as it is maybe termed as individualistic. If he cared for the environment except for the profit bonuses and benefits it would give, he would be driven to change.
Practical constraints that limit our choice of alternatives
What we know is that the cost of building the plant would go high without the mention of the actual amount and that Bryan is ‘concerned’ about it. The company’s performance in the past quarters indicates that it may run out of business, and the issue is of high concern.
The best analysis in light of the preceding analysis
I believe that the best alternative is one which looks into the future of the company. One that will ensure a continuous cycle of sustainable economic and environmental development, for all parties involved. The cost will of course go up, and production with profits going down and slow, but the company will be more appealing to consumers as well as ethically. Incorporating all the relevant stages will improve the overall image and relationship of consumers to the company.
Ferrell, O. (2009). Ethical Decision Making and Cases. Upper Saddle River: Cengage Learning.