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Proposals for Standardization

The society in its relevant institutions needs to develop a dialogue about which ethical duties it assigns to companies and the values and paradigms that are imposed on companies by society. Standards might be one way of introducing instruments for ethical reflection into the process. This has already been done within the field of Quality management with respect to the value of “quality and consumer satisfaction. ” In quality management, almost every company needs to be certified according to the ISO 9000 system. Hence, it seems possible to extend this ISO system to ethical standards and values.

The standard is a matter of assigning social responsibility to companies. Conclusion This contribution is a first reflection on the question of ‘how to enhance ethical decision-making in the industrial context’ by including a stakeholder perspective into technology development. This is only possible if the development and application of a technology is seen as part of a social process. This approach implies that one has to abandon the principle of discussing engineering ethics only through an individual perspective with respect to ethics codes.

A division of labor between society and industry seams necessary where long-term planning on the macro-level is done by society, whereas industry is largely involved in short-term planning and the micro-level of reflection. At the corporate level, different institutions are required in order to promote individual actions in collective decision-making. Furthermore, the structural analogies between management and ethical reflection processes are used to introduce the social perspective into the design and use of technology.

Whether this approach is effective or not largely depends, like all TQM strategies and company cultures, on its support by the top management. EPM is only effective if it is taken seriously and if it creates transparency for society. Therefore, Standardization may only help to foster the process, but it does not mean that all problems can be solved simply by means of standardization. A large amount of investigation, especially with regard to ethical decision- making and technology development, still needs to be carried out.

Part : B Ethical Decision Making in Business Various descriptive models of ethical decision-making have been developed in business ethics, the most widely cited probably being those by Trevino (1986) and Jones (1991) from the management literature, and those by Hunt and Vitell (1986) and Ferrell and Gresham (1985) from the marketing literature. These are not necessarily competing models, since they draw extensively upon one another and are often presented as “extensions” to, or a “synthesis” of, earlier models.

In general, all of these models primarily seek to represent two things: (a) the different stages in decision-making people go through; and (b) the different influences on that process. In many respects, the Jones (1991) model “provides the most comprehensive synthesis model of ethical decision-making” (Loe et al. , 2000, p. 186). Given Jones’ (1991) focus on the ethical issues themselves (rather than the person making the decision), it is particularly relevant to this examination of fair trade since it is very much an issue-based context.

He bases his model on a four-stage process of ethical decision-making introduced by Rest (1986). According to this model, individuals move through a process whereby they: (i) recognize a moral issue; (ii) make some kind of moral judgment about that issue; (iii) establish an intention to act upon that judgment; and (iv) finally, actually act according to their intentions. Further, according to Jones (1991), there are two main types of influence on this decision process. First, there are issue-related factors, i. e. factors which influence how intense the ethical issue is perceived to be by decision makers.

Second, there are organizational factors, such as socialization processes, authority factors and group dynamics, which shape what, are regarded as right and wrong in a given organizational situation. There is considerable evidence to suggest that organizational and issue-related factors have a considerable impact on ethical decision making. For example, Morris and McDonald (1995) and Frey (2000) have provided support for the role of moral intensity whilst Ford and Richardson (1994) and Loe et al. (2000) summarize a significant body of empirical research supporting the importance of various organizational factors.

However, to date there has been little research investigating how exactly these factors influence decision-making, and how they interact together to shape organizational moralities. For many issues, however, there was considerable uncertainty in decision-making. No fixed codes were in place to guide the decisions to be made on many issues raised in the day-to-day business of running the company. This is where precedents seem to come in. A precedent occurs when past decisions are used to set criteria for new decisions.

Accordingly, the individual’s ethical decision process is to some extent bypassed by the production of a definite organizational position on a problem. Conclusion Moral intensity and organizational factors clearly crucial in shaping ethical decisions. Ethical issue does not have a fixed innate moral intensity for each individual. In fact what is indicated is that an individual’s perception of the moral intensity of certain issues can be shaped and by the organizational context surrounding the decision-maker. Precedents give cues as to how intensity should be interpreted, but even these are reconstructed as different circumstances arise.

Similarly, our contextual view of decision-making would also indicate that by altering the context of an ethical decision, the outcome of that decision can to some extent be managed. Proximity to the ethical issues surrounding the growers is the major tool used for the purpose. Each individual member of the company had spent time in the third world prior to working in the company. What the company had achieved is a complete focus on the developing world in most decisions, constituting, as we would put it, a moral curtain which divided certainty from uncertainty in ethical decision making.

References

Part : A [1] Grunwald, A. “Against Overestimating the Role of Ethics in Technology. ” Development Science and Engineering Ethics 6 (2000a): 181-196. [2] “Between Theory and Practice: Scopes and Interfaces of Engineering Ethics as Subject for Further Research. ” Proceedings of the IEEE ISTAS 2000, Rome. 2000b, 183-186. [3] “Philosophy and the Concept of Technology. ” in Grunwald, A. (ed. ), On Human Nature. Berlin: Springer, 2001.

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