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The Three Major Ethical Approaches Managers Might Use in Making Ethical Choices
By :   Gini Graham Scott 
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There are three major ethical approaches that managers might use in making an ethical choice - a utilitarian or consequence approach, a negative or positive rights approach, or a virtue-based ethical reasoning approach. Here is a description of the three approaches and the advantages and disadvantages of each one.


Using a Utilitarian or Consequence-Based Approach


A utilitarian or consequence-based manager would look at the possible choices for taking a certain action in light of the results of doing one thing versus another. For example, suppose that the manager could earn extra money from fees or contributions from patrons from putting on a certain program or that the city is offering to sponsor a recreational sports program like boxing, but the program would negatively impact a small group of people in the neighbourhood who would risk damage to their property from attendees or a high level of noise during the activity.


Also, there might be a risk of injury to some of the players participating, though they would have to sign waivers that they are assuming the responsibility for any injury. In the consequence-based approach, the manager would look at this event from a cost-benefits perspective and decide that most people in the community would enjoy this activity and that the organization would make more money from offering the program, and would have little financial risk due to injuries because of the waivers signed by participants. The manager would also dismiss the neighbours complaining about possible property damage and noise, since this would seem to be of lesser concern compared to the popularity of and income from the event.


The advantage of operating as a utilitarian manager is it might bring in more money and provide a popular form of entertainment that draws a large crowd. Also, the manager might be correct in weighing the potential risk of damage or injury against the potential financial gain from the event, as well as the possibility of bringing in new member of the organization from attendees. However, the disadvantage is that this approach disregards the rights of the minority who don't want the event - the neighbours who will be negatively impacted by it.


Another disadvantage is that the manager using this approach might under estimate the negative costs of the event, in that the angry neighbours might sue for property damage or for damages due to the high noise level in a residential neighbourhood, leading to a costly suit the organization might lose.


Secondly, there could be injuries not only to participants but to spectators at the event, and the participants might be able to set aside any waiver they signed by making good legal arguments, such as being underage or feeling coerced to participate. Another disadvantage is that this cost-benefits approach might result in negative publicity for the organization and the city, as a result of the press highlighting the plight of the neighbours or the potential injury of the participants, and presenting the organization as being unconcerned about the interests of the community members.


 

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Published On Friday, April 29, 2011
 
 
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