Assignment: Business Ethics and Responsible Management
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Read the following in conjunction with the case study you choose to focus on and the rubric.
Your assessment will take the form of a 3,000 word (you are allowed to go over by 10% making it a maximum of 3,300 words) submission consisting of three parts in total.
You will be expected to show that you understand the importance of individual and organisational ethical thinking and practice and that you can apply ethical decision making. You will also need to show that you can think critically about the role of business in society. Further, you will need to show that you have understand the way in which theory can underpin how ethical issues are viewed, but also that you understand that theory offers a guide but not necessarily the answer to practice. The assessment also requires you to show that you have reflected on what makes an ethical leader and manager and what that means in the context of organisational culture.
An extensive rubric is provided which will show you how the work is marked and what is required to achieve high marks.
Your assessment into two parts with part 1 being further split into two. Read the requirements below and attempt all three parts. You will submit all three parts together in the same submission.
You should look at the following cases of businesses that have attracted attention due to some aspect of practice. You should choose the ONE of these that interests you and complete the following:
a) You are required to write a brief report for senior managers at the case of your choosing. This report is written from the perspective of a middle manager tasked to outline the ethical dimensions of the issues from the case. You will need to explore a number of factors including – Why should this be explored as an ethical question? How might the company want to think about the role of business in society? You will also need to outline who the key stakeholders are and in what way they are affected. You should include research into examples of how ethical choices impact on other companies (e.g. where is there research that shows good choices benefit companies and bad choices have a negative impact?). Finally, you should conclude with some recommendations for what the company should do
This part of your assessment should be written as a report, but should be referenced in the normal academic way using Harvard citations and referencing.
b) For this part you should again use your chosen case study – but this time choose TWO ethical theories and demonstrate that you can apply these to the case to show how your chosen theories lead you to a view on the ethics of the case. This is written as an academic paper.
Your choices for cases are:
1. EA Games: Fifa, Loot boxes and whales
2. The gender pay gap: what the median pay gap says about your company
3. Ladbrokes: The online way to save your job
4. Johnson and Johnson: Taking the pain away?
5. Supply chains and human rights abuses: This doesn’t smell right- warnings to tuna companies
Each of these is on Moodle and is linked to an article related to the story.
Part 2 is NOT related to the case study. This section requires you to discuss what makes an ethical leader and how you would, as an ethical manager, manage your business and/or others to a high ethical standard.
You will need to think about personal ethics, about the conditions that bring about unethical organisations and practices, about organisational values and methods of compliance. This part can be written in a more reflective style
Below is a suggested way to structure your work. You do not have to follow this, but note that this structure reflects the rubric which will assist you in covering what is expected in the assessment.
a) Writing the Report
Having chosen the case that interests you, you will act as a middle manager writing to senior managers on the subject.
Introducing the report, the nature of the ethical issue and the role of business in society
This section requires you to be clear to your audience (the senior managers) why the issue raised has an ethical dimension, think about where in class we have talked about what an ethical dilemma is. To add to your argument, you should think about outlining for your managers thinking about what role in society a business could/should have. This will require you to re-visit the classes where we thought about the perspective that the central role of business might not been seen solely as profit.
Identification of key stakeholders and the impact on them and examples of how ethical choices have dis/benefited other businesses.
This section should identify from the case you have chosen who the key stakeholders are and in what way they are affected. You might want to argue that the company neglected/failed to see/consider relevant stakeholders and you should point out how that connects to your argument that this is something to be considered from an ethical viewpoint.
It is also here that you use the research you will have done to demonstrate to your managers the benefits and costs of ethical/non-ethical thinking by reference to other examples. For example, where is there research that shows good choices benefit companies (e.g. that being seen as responsible attracts/retains/is valued by consumers, or if your case is about HR where is the research on employment practice that has what you would argue to be a good/ethical impact for the employee and company? Conversely you may want to emphasise where bad choices have a negative impact – are there examples of where a company for example has made unwise choices in advertising and the impact that has had?
Advice and recommendations for Company emerging from analysis
Having researched and analysed the issue you now have to advise your company on what they should do in order to be an ethical and responsible company. Make some key recommendations for the management team you are reporting to. – for example on how the view and use values in the company, view their role in society, and more practical suggestions around for example the way in which they employ people, think about the impact of advertising they use or train staff.
A bibliography which includes all the references that you used to in your report. This part of your assessment should be written as a report, but should be referenced in the normal academic way using Harvard citations and referencing.
b) Applying two ethical theories to the case study
For this part you should again use the case study – but this time choose TWO ethical theories and demonstrate that you can apply these to the case to show how your chosen theories lead you to a view on the ethics of the case. This part should be written not as a report but in an academic essay style. You will take your example and use two theories – for example if you choose to use utilitarianism, what are the fundamentals of that idea? If (as it is) it is the idea of the greatest good for the greatest number, what does that say about the subject of your case study? You will probably need to think about the stakeholders you identified in part a) who/what are/is the ‘winners’ and who/what the ‘losers’? Does that mean that choosing in favour of the greatest number is ethical? What are the drawbacks of that view? You can then do the same with another theory – deontology or feminist ethics for example. A sum up would then note if there are differences in what ‘answers;’ these viewpoints give and your reflection on that. NOTE – you can choose any two theories we cover in class, you do not have to choose ones that you think contrast each other; the task here is to show that you can understand, critique and apply theory. Note also that we will be practicing using these ideas on cases in seminars.
The qualities recognised for ethical leadership and the creation of an ethical organisation
This section will be a reflective piece, although still requires you to use academic sources to support your reflection. As it is reflective it is OK to use the first person when writing. We are expecting to see some engagement with the qualities of ethical leadership. This may well require you to think about what the relationship is between an ethical leader and an ethical manager. We will cover this in class so go back to that class to refresh your thinking. Look again at the classes and think about the discussions in seminars around what qualities you would identify in someone that you consider to be ethical. If this marks out an ethical person, what is needed to transfer that into being an ethical leader? And so the next step is how might that help develop an ethical organisation? One way of examining this may also be to imagine what would stop this. A tip here is to look back at the class where we met the idea of the toxic triangle. Finally, you would need to draw that into how you would bring about the best environment for ethical practice – which may include values and tools for compliance.
Finally, a reminder that we will be using formative feedback tasks as a chance for you to the think about and rehearse content and arguments and get feedback on what you will include in the assessment – take note of your class and Moodle messages on formative tasks.