Many common business concerns or dilemmas stem from ethical issues. Should the manager have agreed to work with that company, knowing what they're involved in? What should an employee do if a supervisor tells him to lie during a government inspection? How should lay-offs be handled? All of these are examples of ethical issues that many people often face. Whether major or minor, each calls on our moral codes of conduct and humane obligations to one another-otherwise known as ethics.
When formulating an essay
on this topic its best to provide your audience with a precise objective statement or thesis, a comprehensive explanation and connection to theory, and clear and relevant examples to support your argument. Assuming that you've identified a sound objective to fulfill, the next step would be to refine your topic by way of theory analysis.
Tip #1: Know your theories
Its important to provide at least a minimal connection to ethical theories in any ethics paper. This is because many of the issues being explored have likely already been categorized and heavily examined by theorist and researchers. Showing these connections allows for students to further expand on a topic rather than attempt to 'reinvent the wheel' so to speak, and bring about recycled ideas that have already been discussed. Secondly, a good literature review and comprehension of applicable theories shows that a student is well-versed on the topic and aware of its key principles and contributors.
Since the nature of ethics is to provide guidelines on what is considered right and wrong, you may often find that business ethics theories will primarily illustrate the determining factors of what is good, bad, right and wrong. Some focus on the self and the success of business endeavors while others rely on common moral standards to determine what is considered to be 'the right thing to do.'
Some examples of different approaches to business ethics
'Greatest Happiness Principle'
This approach to understanding business ethics primarily deals with the needs of the larger group. It requires for ethical decisions to be made based on that which will reap the most benefits for the most people (i.e. to maximize positive results). And likewise, doing this may or may not facilitate individual happiness but its based on what is best for the larger group.
This theory is not considered to be a 'stand alone theory' as it may sometimes be explained and coupled with other approaches in essays or papers. The basic premise is to nurture and care for those in the most need, or for those most prone to being mistreated such as children and workers. Overall it provides basic nurturing and caring practices as a model for business ethics.
This is also known as divine command theory and is not limited to business ethics alone. It can also be explained in general ethical terms citing that a belief in God and the afterlife is required to ensure ethical behavior and moral standards. This is understood in terms of the reward in the afterlife for good behavior, and that which is beyond any limited worldly benefits.
Tip # 2 Provide clear and concrete evidential support
There are many types of evidence that can be brought to business papers
such as empirical data (surveys, interviews etc.) or statistical figures, historical examples, and descriptions of specific organizations and entities. The evidence that a writer brings to prove or support a statement or claim is a major contributing factor to the quality and sustainability of his argument. Likewise, the credibility of such evidence should also be verified extensively as that also lends to the reliability and merit of a paper or essay.
Some common examples of evidential support;
If possible, provide your readers with direct quotes or dialogue from key staff members such as managers, supervisors and employees. In general quotes add tremendous character to any piece of writing, especially when coming from the author's own first hand empirical research.
One of the most profound ways of illustrating a particular point is by providing clear and useful examples. In business ethics, direct examples may be accumulated by researching particular companies and obtaining helpful information to support claims such as legal cases or historical events.
An example of a legal case connected to ethics would be the case of Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson. In this case it was established that sexual harassment can be determined not just on the demand for sexual favors for better positions but also the formation of a hostile work environment.
Likewise, a historical example of business ethics not being properly executed would be the famous ENRON scandal.
Statistical figures are an excellent means of supporting an argument as well. Numbers often speak louder than words. And any type of statistical information that may relate to ethical concerns such as discrimination, insider trading, workplace safety or pyramid schemes may find its way into your paper. When using statistical data remember to (a) properly cite your sources (b) use only credible references (c) ensure that the information is strategically placed in a sentence or paragraph to maximize its effect on your audience.
Tip # 3 Find good online sources
Considering the credibility of the Internet its sometimes hard to rely on it for paper references or materials. But reliable sources for ethical issues and a host of other things can definitely be found online. In general, a little bit of effort needs to be made and a few precautions need to be taken, but the information is available for referencing.
When using online resources its best to use those generated by official educational institutions, government organizations, or reputable companies. Always check the date of the publication as well as the author's own resources. *This may not apply to everyday information but for any formal document such as a school paper
or essay these things need to be taken into consideration.
So what are some good online resources? Well one of the first issues to consider is 'to pay or not to pay.' There are many online databases that provide excellent sources of articles but often times they do require a payment. Most universities and colleges have memberships to databases such as Jstor and Ebscohost and therefore they are usually accessible for free from any school computer. Otherwise, if unable to access these databases it may be good to use; (1) Google scholar for journal articles (2) The NY Times and Wallstreet journal for news archives (3) Usa.gov/business for US related business data and statistics (4) Lexisnexis and Pacer.gov for legal court cases.
In addition to this some online databases for business ethics that may or may not have free access are;
Online business ethics journals
Also If just beginning to explore your business ethic topic it may be helpful to review sample papers to aid you and formulating your own.
Sample articles (some may be free and some may not)