Management Essay Example: Overview of Ethical Decision-Making Process

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The process of making a decision in an ethical way constitutes all the stages that a person has to go through from the instant a moral matter arises up to when they participate in certain conduct. The process of ethical decision-making commences with the environment that constitutes of four factors. These are cultural, social, economic and organizational (Morales-Sanchez, & Cabello-Medina, 2013). Ethical issues in this context are considered to arise from the environment. The way of life of people and their social interactions gives rise to various situations that may require ethics to be applied in coming up with conclusions. Furthermore, the way in which people relate in their workstations also leads to ethical situations. All these elements further facilitate ethical behaviors among individuals (Schwartz, 2017). Once a moral issue has been identified from the environment, the next aspect is to make some form of moral behavior pertaining the matter.

Moral behavior is the process that entails an individual trying to determine the difference between what is wrong and right. Four components constitute moral behavior or development. The first factor is moral sensitivity. It is the capability to see an ethical dilemma as it arises. It further entails viewing how the actions one makes will affect other people. Moral sensitivity also affects the way an individual sees others, how they respond to delicacy and the way to navigate social interactions that appear to be complex (Morales-Sanchez, & Cabello-Medina, 2013). The second aspect is the moral judgment that entails the ability to form the right decision concerning what should be done concerning a certain issue. The right or wrong judgment will thus determine if the decision made is ethical or not pertaining the issue at hand. Moral motivation depicts the aspect of an individual accepting to take responsibility for the outcome that will arise as a result of the decision they make on an issue. In most cases, on would want to take responsibility for the right outcome and thus, this aspect is effective in guiding people to take the correct path (Schwartz, 2017). Moral behavior, the fourth aspect refers to the character. It entails persistence in an individual to make the right choice despite being under pressure, tempted or even fatigued (Cremer, 2009). It is what defines a person hence guides them into making the right decision on an issue.

The next step in the ethical decision-making process constitutes what should be undertaken or the decision to be made. The decision will be made by the moral behavior that a person possesses. Organizational and dilemma related factors are involved in coming up with a whole decision on an ethical issue at hand (Kim, 2016). The dilemma associated factors entail moral intensity that is the degree or level that individuals see a problem as being ethical. Moral intensity constitutes of six components. Out of these factors, a social consensus has been identified to be strongly related to the process of ethical decision-making. The ability to obtain a form of agreement from the society or community is quite essential for an individual. It will enable them to determine whether they have put the interests of most people into consideration and the area that they can apply changes concerning the decision that has been made (Morales-Sanchez, & Cabello-Medina, 2013). There is the magnitude of consequences that entails the projected level of effect of the outcome of a particular action and temporal immediacy which is the role of the recess between the time an action takes place and the beginning of consequences (Selart & Johansen, 2011). Furthermore, other elements of moral intensity are proximity which is the emotional or psychological understanding that the decision maker feels to those who are affected by the resolution. The concentration of effects, on the other hand, is the range to which the magnitudes are dedicated while the probability of the result is the way the decision will affect those involved in the matter (Morales-Sanchez, & Cabello-Medina, 2013).

On the other hand, the organizational factors comprise of language, ethical culture, code of ethics, leadership, rewards or punishment and moral infrastructure. The code of ethical conduct in a firm guides the moral decisions that are to be made (Kim, 2016). Additionally, the culture that has been set in the organization regarding ethics guide the direction to be taken concerning the issue at hand. Having gone through the process, one will then make an ethical decision according to their intentions. The process can further be applied by organizations to make major decisions about various issues (Morales-Sanchez, & Cabello-Medina, 2013). It is, however, necessary to note that the process of ethical decision making depends on the individual. They should also be aware of the people they will affect and should determine the correct course of action. In addition to these, the person must also give precedence to the moral values over their special welfares (Selart & Johansen, 2011). Finally, they should have the skill and strength to follow through the impacts of the decision made as well.

Individual vs. Organizational Ethical Perspectives of Decision-Making

There are personal and organizational ethical aspects that are usually taken into account when considering making decisions. Individual ethical perspectives of decision making are age, behavior, awareness, gender, emotions, personal values, and personality, peers, cultural values, employment, religion and education among others. Out of the factors, personality feature undertakes a significant role in ethical decision making. On the other hand, the organizational perspectives include competitiveness, ethical culture, industry, code of ethics, corporate level and performance and policies. Furthermore, there is training, professional relationships, teams, and moral intensity (Craft, 2012). One of the similarities in these perspectives is the fact that they all have an impact on the nature or behavior of individuals. As such, they provide guidance on the direction that should be taken concerning when one is faced with an ethical dilemma. Additionally, the organizational and individual ethical perspectives have broad objectives in that they can be applied in the workplace and in daily activities as well. As such, they are not limited to one position. Ho (2010) also depicted that individual and organizational ethical perspectives can be regarded as an accepted and institutionalized measure of conducting business.

Some differences can also be observed in the individual and organizational ethical aspects. Various moral philosophies are utilized by people to make decisions related to work or personal life. However, with the organizational ethical aspects, they are unique to some areas of the work environment. For instance, ethical viewpoints related to training are not similar to those linked to competitiveness (Hartog & Belschak, 2012). Unethical conduct is likely to be witnessed in the individual perspectives when questions are raised pertaining actions on violation of fairness standards in the community as compared to the organization standards of integrity. Moreover, immoral actions are easy to detect when considering individual ethical perspectives unlike with the organizational standpoints (Craft, 2012).

Own Perspective

The morality of people is not determined by set guidelines or standards in their environment. Aspects such as culture and individual beliefs have an effect on whether a person will act in an ethical way. The laws and social values of a persons location also have an impact on the direction they will take in making decisions. Obtaining facts about an issue is a significant determinant in analyzing a moral issue. Values then follow in this step as they will also determine the way an ethical issue is solved.

When undertaking a decision concerning an organization, several factors should be used as a guide. These are the core values, mission statement, the vision of the business and competitors. The fundamental values of the company give the goals that are to be applied to come up with the criteria that will be used to make major decisions. The mission of the firm and code of conduct are other decisions that contribute to the overall resolution of the organization. All these factors are important since they have an influence on the element of ethical resolution making. Furthermore, they also affect the conduct of the group in general.

The right ethical decisions can be made in the organization by having in mind some aspects. The moral decision made should be responsible and comply with the values and code of ethics of the company. It should also stimulate trust and respect and further preserve the rights of all the individuals.



Craft, J. (2012). A Review of the Empirical Ethical Decision-Making Literature: 20042011. Journal Of Business Ethics, 117(2), 221-259., D. D. (2009). Psychological perspectives on ethical behavior and decision making.

Hartog, D. N. D., & Belschak, F. D. (2012). Work engagement and Machiavellianism in the ethical leadership process. Journal of Business Ethics, 107, 3547.

Ho, J. A. (2010). Ethical perception: Are differences between ethnic groups situation dependent? Business Ethics: A European Review, 19(2), 154182. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8608.2010.01583.x.

Kim, R. C. (2016). Ethical Decision Making in International Business: A Study of Challenge in Teaching to Future Global Talents. Business and Management Studies, 2(2), 1-13.

Morales-Sanchez, R., & Cabello-Medina, C. (2013). The Role of Four Universal Moral Competencies in Ethical Decision-Making. Journal Of Business Ethics, 116(4), 717-734.

Schwartz, M. S. (2017). Business ethics: An ethical decision-making approach.

Selart, M., & Johansen, S. T. (2011). Ethical decision making in organizations: The role of leadership stress. Journal of Business Ethics, 99(2), 129-143.

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