Major business scandals seem common place, as one might assume from media reports. Some companies “cook their books” to
make it look like they are earning a profit when they aren’t. Others shell out large bonuses to top executives while
accepting tax-dollar bailouts. This erodes investor and public confidence in companies, and sometimes business in
general. Organizations and their employees need some guidelines about what is right and wrong behavior in business – a
code for behaving ethically.
Some say businesses have a responsibility to society that goes beyond just making a profit, while others – such as the
late economist Milton Friedman – say that profit is the only concern. Who is right?
Business ethics applies principles concerning right and wrong to such ethical issues as “creative accounting” and insider
trading, stories of which regularly appear in the media.
For Americans, as well as for people from many other countries, behaviors typically considered “right” are honesty,
courage, integrity, self-control and self sacrifice. Some of the “wrong” behaviors are cheating, cruelty and cowardice.
For most of us, issues related to these behaviors are relatively easy to evaluate an appropriate course of action. But
many ethical dilemmas fall into a gray area where the right decision is not clear cut. That’s what creates the dilemma
Find and discuss a current event related to an ethical dilemma faced by marketers.
What dimensions of the dilemma relate to social responsibility to the stakeholders?
What is the value of a code of ethics/statement of corporate social responsibility to employees faced with such a
***An idea is products that are marketed positively, but do not necessarily provide benefit to customer e.g. cigarettes,
junk food. (Please use a different example.)