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one over the other, but given the circumstances, they cannot seek to obtain both types of benefits.For example, assume a company has limited funds available to invest in stocks. By investing in short-term stocks, the company will benefit immediately. By investing in long-term stocks, the company will benefit at a later date. Ideally, they would prefer to pursue both stocks and receive both short- and long-term benefits. But this is not doable. What should the company do? This is another example of an ethical dilemma created by competing values.Justice vs. MercyJustice versus mercy are competing values that frequently create ethical dilemmas. For example, consider an employee who has worked for a company for over 20 years. In that time, this individual has been a loyal employee who always abided by company policies, never committingany immoral or unethical behaviors. But recently, that employee has experienced severe financialhardships as a result of a family member’s medical condition, which have burdened the employee with staggering medical bills.One day, the employee’s automobile is almost empty of gasoline, and he does not have sufficient funds in his personal checking account to purchase a tank of gas. He is carrying the company’s credit card with him. Even though it is a violation of company policy, he uses it to purchase the gas for his personal vehicle, intending to reimburse the company for the expense when he has themoney. The company discovers the purchase before he has a chance to reimburse the company.Company policy states that any employee who misuses a company credit card must be dismissedimmediately. If the value of justice prevails, the company will follow this policy and fire the employee. If the value of mercy prevails, the company will consider the circumstances, includingthe employee’s previously stellar record, and forgive the employee. Which option is the right thing to do? Again, the situation presents an ethical dilemma.Ethical DilemmaA situation in which a person must decide whether or not to do something that—although benefiting him- or herself, or the organization, or both—may be considered unethical.close
Lesson OverviewOrganizations face many ethical dilemmas and it is not alwayseasy to choose the most ethical decision. We need to evaluatethe situation based on various factors including motivations andcosts. There are many advantages to running an ethicalorganization including productivity and employee engagementand satisfaction.Key TermsEthical BehaviorConduct that is regarded as morally good and right, rather than bad or wrong, in a particular setting.Ethical DilemmaA situation in which a person must decide whether or not to do something that—although benefiting him- or herself, or the organization, or both—may be considered unethical.EthicsCan be defined in multiple ways. For example, Leys (1943) calls ethics “the art of making wise choices.” Frederickson (1997) described ethics as “a world of philosophy, values, and morals. Ethics will search for right and wrong. Bruce (2001) defined ethics as “the study of the nature of morals and moral choices and the rules governing a profession that define professional conduct.”