Given a situation in which one person lies and the truth would hurt the others, the dilemma resides in whether the person should continue lying or confess
Free to do otherwise - a situation in which a general solution is proposed for a wider population, but some members feel it is not right for the individually. The dilemma resides in whether the individuals will do what is best for the group or for themselves
The ascetic tale of Chrysippus the Stoic - a situation in which one has to state whether a pleasure is good or bad and choose form them The pirate - a situation involving two colleagues, one saving to purchase an expensive software program from the company and one stealing it. The dilemma resides around whether the one who saves should do nothing, report the theft or steal the product herself (Cohen, 2003)
4. Resolving Ethical Dilemmas in Business
Once a business dilemma has been identified, the following course of action depends on the morality and skills of the business leader. Philosophers generally approach the matter of resolving ethical dilemmas from two standpoints - first of all, there is the matter of the practical consequences of the actions to be implemented, and secondly, there is the issue of the actions themselves.
In addressing the consequences, the leader has to consider the parties that will benefit from the implementation of the actions. He must also answer the questions referring to who will be hurt in the process, the nature of the harms and benefits and also the long as well as short-term effects. In terms of the actual courses of action to be implemented, the leader must take an independent and objective stand and simply look at the actions, without considering their consequences. He must answer questions such as "How do they measure up against moral principles like honesty, fairness, equality, respecting the dignity of others, respecting people's rights, and recognizing the vulnerability of individuals weaker or less fortunate than others? Do any of the actions that you're considering "cross the line," in terms of anything from simple decency to an important ethical principle? If there's a conflict between principles or between the rights of different people involved, is there a way to see one principle as more important than the others?" (Center for Ethics and Business)
Having answered the questions relative to the actions and consequences of solving an ethical dilemma, the business leader will be able to make an informed decision.
5. Final Remarks
The multifaceted changes of the past recent decades have generated several mutations within the business community. One effect of the recent modifications is that organizations place an increased emphasis on the way they conduct operations, outside the legislative stipulations. This often determines ethical dilemmas.
The specialized literature on the filed of ethical dilemmas is rather extensive, offering the reader an increased access to resources. A highly relevant piece if work in this field is Martin Cohen's 101 Ethical Dilemma. Out of them, we have presented seven: the lifeboat, the internet bargain, the toaster, the liar, free to do otherwise, the ascetic tale of Chrysippus the Stoic and the pirate.
The Institute of Business Ethics has identified that the most intensified concerns are obvious in cases of environment responsibilities, harassment and discrimination.
The most suitable course of action in addressing business ethical dilemmas is that of answering the questions referring to the actual measures to be taken and the consequences of these measures. Ultimately, all leaders must be conscious that the literature will not offer them a perfect solution, but that in solving their problems, they must increase their theoretical knowledge and develop skills which allow them to adapt and apply theory within an actual business context and to a given situation.
Cohen, M., 101 Ethical Dilemmas, Routledge, 2003
Crane, A., Matten, D., Business Ethics: Managing Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability in the Age of Globalization, Oxford University Press, 2007
Crystal, G., What Is Business Ethics? Wise Geek, 2008, http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-business-ethics.html. Ast accessed on December 8, 2008
Vallace, E.M., Business Ethics at Work, Cambridge University Press, 1995
Website of the Institute for Business Ethics, http://www.ibe.org.uk/faq.htm#whatbelast accessed on December 8, 2008
Resolving an Ethical Dilemma, Center for Ethics and Business, http://www.ethicsandbusiness.org/strategy.html. Ast accessed on December 9, 2009
What is Business Ethics, University of Illinois at Chicago, http://jobfunctions.bnet.com/abstract.aspx?docid=81249last accessed on December 8, 2008