I have moved on to the subject of Business Ethics in my MBA programme and had been doing a lot of reading and thinking about the subject area. Like I mentioned previously, taking up a postgraduate programme had taught me the importance of looking at issues differently, and being critical on whatever that I come across.
I had initially thought that Business Ethics is a very clear cut issue. What is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong. Of course, there are the occasional grey areas but that’s about it. However, the more comments you read, the more you agree and the more confused you’ get.
In our text, the fundamentals of Ethics is divided into two broad theories (or views). One: consequentialist and two: non-consequentialist.
In the first one: consequentialist, it is believed that an action is morally right if the action itself results in the greatest good/happiness for the greatest number. That is, murder is morally right if killing one person saves an entire group of people. Perhaps murder is very clear cut and may not be a good example, but you get the picture.
Non-consequentialists believe in the action itself rather than results. It is what people do. So, murder is wrong regardless of how many people you would save and regardless of what situation you are in. Say you murdered because of self defence. You are still guilty because the action is wrong regardless of the outcome.
So, that brings me to the issue that we’ve been debating in the office. Heh.. obviously, I won’t bore you with my course discussions.
Being in marketing means we are constantly pressured to achieve targets. Of course, I don’t see why this should be a big problem when demand is there. Our reputation is also there and people want to be associated with us.
Alas, bureaucracy kills it all. Our inflexibility meant that we had to reject many potential customers and it is also us who need to handle the disappointment and frustration.
Why? Why could our competitors do it and not us? Why be so strict and inflexible?
I had worked in a foreign organisation and as much as I understand how cultures differ, we need to have some flexibility in doing things in this country called Malaysia. Well, not only flexibility, but ‘ways’ when it comes to dealing with certain authorities.
We were just debating this fact in the office – why can’t we get things sorted out for our customers as quick and simple as competitors? Why do we have to comply so strictly with deadlines while others operate on a even tighter deadline?
Honestly, when customers ask me these questions, I have no answer for them. Although deep inside I know why. And all you customers out there, stop blaming certain companies for sticking with their policies too much. There isn’t anything I could do since no one is willing to do anything.
The answer to these questions is because our competitors know how to work round the system. Know how to ‘take care’ of the authorities concerned. Yes, it is not ‘morally right’. But to me, personally, things that need to be done, need to be done. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, not technically wrong, I am fine.
For example, these ‘immoral actions’ may just include buying a whole bucket of KFC for the authorities for their lunch. Yea, try to visit during lunch time, too. So what? Just put the expenses under entertainment claims. Heck, we are allowed to buy our business partners lunch or dinner as entertainment what. So?
Referring back to the theories: it is not considered morally right since the action results in the greatest happiness? I mean our customers are happy cos we sorted out things for them. The authorities are happy cos they get free lunch and heck, even KFC is happy cos they get to sell one whole bucket of their leftover chicken.
And of course, I am happy too la – no need to deal with angry customers.
And who loses out? No one. Not a single person got hurt. Well, except for our competitors.