Ethical Decision Making
Choose a positive example from the past ten years of a business organization whose leaders acted
ethically when they encountered an ethical dilemma. Select, analyze, and describe the ethical
decision making and actions in the organization.
Submit a 4-page (not including cover page or references) analysis of the ethical situation.
Your analysis must include the following:
An explanation of the ethical framework applied by the organization to make its decision, including
support for your analysis from scholarly research
An examination of both the positive and negative consequences of the decision, including the
tradeoffs that the leadership of the organization made in making their decision
A minimum of five references
Ethical Decision Making
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People are commonly required to make decisions every day within the business
environment. It is important to follow an ethical framework or model whenever one makes
these decisions. Business organizations utilize business ethics as a tool for ensuring that the
company’s top officials act in a responsible fashion in different business situations
(Woiceshyn, 2011). Ethical decisions could involve a number of determinations. Every
decision has a moral or ethical dimension primarily because every decision has an effect on
other people. Business leaders and managers should know about their own moral and ethical
beliefs so that they may draw on them every time they are faced with tough decisions
(Jackson, Wood & Zboja, 2013). Ethical leadership and decision making are the foundation
of various concepts such as sustainability, corporate social responsibility, ethical companies,
the triple bottom line, and fair-trade. In this paper, a positive example from the last decade of
a company whose senior executives acted in an ethical fashion when they faced an ethical
dilemma is identified and described exhaustively.
Launch of a defective product at Apple
Anthony Soohoo was one of the leaders at Apple working as a product manager on
the company’s PowerBook team. At one point in time in 2010, Apple’s PowerBook team was
preparing to introduce a new product. It is worth mentioning that as part of testing this new
product before launching it into the marketplace, the company leaders discovered that an
extremely small sample size was actually defective and which can potentially be injurious to
the end-users (Giang, 2014). As the product manager, Anthony Soohoo was under a lot of
pressure to decide on whether to delay introducing the novel product into the marketplace. In
essence, there were good arguments that supported to hold off launching the product and
arguments that supported launching the defective product without any delays. A product is
considered defective if there were flaws in the product’s manufacturing or design, inferior or
poor quality materials were used to make it, production did not conform to safety standards,
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there is unforeseen misuse of the product, or there was product contamination or tampering
(Hoyt & Price, 2015). In the case of Apple, the product was defective as it had flaws in
design and manufacturing and safety standards had not been complied with.
Consequence of bringing the flawed product to the market
Apple has good reputation for making and selling high quality products. Introducing
the defective products in the marketplace could have greatly affected customer confidence in
Apple’s brand and this would certainly have impacted negatively on Apple’s business. In
addition, bringing flawed, poor quality products to the market could have impacted the
emotional engagement of consumers. It could also have impacted long-term loyalty of
consumers to Apple’s brand (Hoyt & Price, 2015). It is notable that the negative impact of
bringing defective products to the marketplace would result in a major reputation crisis for
Apple which might spread throughout different markets where Apple is active and have a
considerable impact to the business.
Furthermore, bringing a defective product into the marketplace is an action which is
in fact unethical that could cause Apple to lose a lot of brand value. Launching new defective
products knowingly is an action that would have amounted to deliberately doing something
wrong. The damage to Apple’s brand equity, penalty that Apple could have suffered, and
future efforts required to win back customer trust if Apple had launched the defective
products into the market would have been costly and significant (Jackson, Wood & Zboja,
2013). The product manager also knew that the lasting impact risk is high. Anthony Soohoo
said that if the defective products were more than they thought and if the product flaws were
actually bigger than they believed were, then many customers of Apple could have
significantly lost trust with Apple.
Consequence of holding off the launch of flawed product
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The new products which had defects were very few. Generally, there was a small
sample size of the flawed products; the sample size was actually not statistically significant.
Furthermore, Apple had spent a considerable amount of money in developing those products
and delaying the launch would hurt the company fiscally. Put simply, holding off the
shipment would result in the loss of millions of US Dollars (Giang, 2014). On the whole,
products which are defective pose a hazard to both the property and health of consumers.
Delaying the launch of flawed products until they are corrected helps in mitigating these
dangers and reducing the fiscal burden of deaths or injuries that are linked to their
consumption (Elm & Radin, 2012).
Ultimate decision reached by Apple’s product manager
Eventually, the decision which the product manager arrived at was to hold off the
introduction of the new product until the fault was rectified. At long last, the product manager
reasoned that it required taking a lasting perspective and it appeared more sensible and
rational to hold off the new product launch. Placing himself in the shoes of Apple’s clients,
Anthony Soohoo thought that the decision he arrived at that meant delaying the new product
launch was what the customers would have expected the company to do. Even though this
was not a popular decision then, it was in fact the right decision for Apple (Giang, 2014).
As the product manager for Apple did, doing it rightly the first time and making the
correct decision from an ethical standpoint was actually far less costly. Winning back
consumer trust would not have been easy if the defective products had been introduced. All in
all, the lesson learned from this ethical dilemma is that a manager should trust his or her gut
to do what is right for the company’s clients. When a tough decision has to be made in an
ethical dilemma, the manager has to make that decision basing upon what will create lasting
value for the company rather than achieving the short-term win (Giang, 2014). Apple is
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commonly part of discussions on business strategy, customer experience and great brands.
The leaders at Apple strongly believe that sticking to a set of values and doing things the
right way is of great importance. Great reputable brands in most instances become great
given that the products and/or services which are behind those particular brands are great.
To sum up, this paper has analyzed how product manager at Apple in the year 2010
was faced with an ethical dilemma and made the right decision from the moral standpoint. He
had to decide whether or not to bring new Apple products that had defects to the marketplace.
The consequences of introducing the defective products include considerable damage to
Apple’s brand equity, huge financial penalty that Apple could have suffered, and significant
future efforts required to win back customer trust. Conversely, the consequence of delaying
the launch is that there would be loss of millions of US Dollars. Eventually, he chose not to
introduce those faulty products to the market.
Elm, D., & Radin, T. (2012). Ethical Decision Making: Special or No Different? Journal of
Business Ethics, 107(3): 313-329. EBSCOhost
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Giang, V. (2014). 7 business leaders share how they solved the biggest moral dilemmas of
their careers. FastCompany.
Hoyt, C., & Price, T. (2015). Ethical Decision Making and Leadership: Merging Social Role
and Self-Construal Perspectives. Journal of Business Ethics, 126(4): 531-539.
Jackson, R., Wood, C., & Zboja, J. (2013). The Dissolution of Ethical Decision-Making in
Organizations: A Comprehensive Review and Model. Journal of Business Ethics,
116(2): 233-250. EBSCOhost
Woiceshyn, J. (2011). A Model for Ethical Decision Making in Business: Reasoning,
Intuition, and Rational Moral Principles. Journal of Business Ethics, 104(3):311-