Additionally, he argued that the best interest of the consumers, as promoted by Gate's organization, was in fact not the core element of new endeavors, as the company had argued, but that whenever a new product or service was being projected, this would be done in order to serve the financial interests of the organization rather than increase customer utility (Kegel, 2006).
In order to better understand why the above mentioned actions were ethical or unethical, it is best to assess them in light of three ethical perspectives. From the standpoint of the utilitarian perspective, the company is able to seek out those actions which maximize its gains, but in doing this, it must remain aware of the needs of others. More specifically, they can work towards their goals as long as these do not impede with the goals of others (Leiss, 1988). From this standpoint, the behavior of Microsoft was unethical. On the one hand, the organization did follow its own agenda, but on the other hand, in doing this, it stopped other parties from achieving their goals -- while Microsoft strived to maximize its profits, it also created a situation in which its competitors found it harder to develop on the market.
The virtue perspective sees that an individual or an entity should base its decisions and actions on values which create virtue, such as honesty and integrity, and these should be used to pursue the most important goals (Tiberius, 2008). From this standpoint, Microsoft has dedicated its efforts to achieving the goals it considered of the utmost importance, but, as the court decided, it broke antitrust regulations, meaning as such that its creation of virtue was limited to inexistent. This in turn means that the actions of the software company were unethical. Finally, from the angle of the common good perspective, Microsoft's actions are also unethical as the company's pursuit of personal gains has materialized in negative impacts upon fair and friendly competition, as well as consumers' choice.
5. Contributing Factors
Given the situation so far presented, one could wonder about the forces which contributed to the achieved outcome. In this endeavor, one should look at the corporate culture and the act of corporate governance. In this order of ideas, the company was revealed as a strong entity that valued creativity and originality and which implemented a wide series of human resource policies. The aim of these strategies was that of increasing employee on-the-job satisfaction with the final purpose of increasing their performance levels. Some of the actions included the ability of Microsoft employees to purchase corporate stocks, the creation of groups based on common interests or features (such as the gay group or the single parent group) or the implementation of flexible work schedules. On the reverse side however, it requested great commitments from the employees. These were often asked to put in long extra hours. Competition between employees was also intense and the overall environment was dynamic and stressful.
Decisions would often be made top-down and the role of the employees was that of executing the managerial commands. It is highly probable that the internal environment and the corporation's antitrust actions intersected at some stages, but in the opposite direction than initially expected. In this order of ideas, it is possible that the intense competition within the market, where Microsoft strived hard to become the indisputable leader, was transferred within the company, where the employees strived forcefully to be the most valuable organizational acquisition.
6. Ethical Decisions
The antitrust situation within Microsoft can be simply summarized as follows: the young software organization brought in a fresh breath within the society and reached the peaks of success with the aid of its user-friendly applications. In its later existence however, Microsoft's leadership ability was challenged by the emergence of more software developers who wanted a market share. In response to the growing competition, the mature Microsoft engaged in actions of a questionable ethical character, for which it was in fact fined, under the United States legislation, while the trials with the European Union are still ongoing.
Within this context, it is useful to inquire of the ethical decisions which were at the basis of this situation. The three ethical perspectives mentioned above constitute a good start in answering the posed question. The answer offered is even more relevant as it is recurrent. To better understand, under the utilitarian perspective, Microsoft is to be blamed for working towards its goals, and hurting others in the process. Then, under the virtue perspective, Microsoft is guilty of not implementing the highest standards of moral conduct; additionally, the central element of their efforts was the scope of becoming the ultimate leader -- a not so ethical goal. Third, under the common good perspective, Microsoft is guilty of implementing decisions which harmed those around it. Ultimately then, the main blame of the software giant is that it looked out for its own interests and in the process, damaged the success chances of other software producers as well as the consumers' freedom of choice.
7. Recommended Corrective Action
The current goal of Microsoft remains that of consolidating its leading position within the Information Technology and Communications industry. Yet, the efforts in this direction might have to be increased in the meaning that the company officials now have to focus on "damage control" as well. The company's reputation within the industry and the market has been negatively impacted and the software organization remains under the constant supervision of the United States Department of Justice as well as the European Commission. In terms of the antitrust case, the company has to focus its efforts onto two channels -- restoring its reputation and ensuring that it is no longer the target of such accusations. In achieving this desiderates, it is recommendable that the Microsoft executives consider the following:
(1) Creating a special department in charge of anti-trust policy; it would hire legal specialists in the field of antitrust legislation, which would continually conduct internal analyses to ensure that the company is in full accordance with the legal stipulations
(2) Restating the commitment to the development of the entire it&C industry -- this would generally be achieved through the Public Relations Department, which would sign the Microsoft officials and representatives to televised programs, interviews within radio programs and specialized journals and magazines and other communication media. This endeavor would bring the customers closer to the organization and would also increase the levels of transparency, a definite plus in strengthening organizational brand and reputation.
Cooper, C., 1999, Microsoft Antitrust Judgment: Winners and Losers, ZD Net, http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/0,1000000121,2074984,00.htm last accessed on August 14, 2009