Case Analysis

Management in Practice: Ethical Dilemma


An Ethical dilemma is a situation where a person has to make a decision about whether a behavior is appropriate or not. Ethical dilemmas may occur in a person’s professional and personal life at different stages. Each organization and individual makes decisions according to their own understood ethical standards.

In the case study there exist an ethical dilemma about what to do if you are a part of an organization and you are confronted with a situation where the company is in desperate need of financial resources to be in the market. There is an opportunity to take advantage of the changes in the environmental regulation by the government and produce a product that will bring profits but is for sure going cause pollution in form of the waste being drained in to a river (Dutch Valley River). Three options are given and as a product developer I have to make a decision. In the following discussion I would like to go with the first option i.e. talk to the manufacturing vice president about the ethical responsibilities we have as an industry leader.

There are psychological forces that are used by our mind for self-deception whenever we are faced with an ethical dilemma (Tenbrunsel and Messick, 2004). The self-deception helps us rationalize unethical behavior by suggesting that everybody does it, if it is allowed by the government then it’s not our responsibility and so on. The same is the case in the situation under discussion. If I have to make a decision about the situation Chem-Tech Corporation is in, my mind would tell me to just keep quiet and let the product be produced. There are changes in the environment regulation and everybody is taking advantage of it. It is legal so it is ethical. But I would call it a rationalization an unethical process. I would think over the problem and look for plausible solutions to it.

As the manufacturing vice president is visiting the plant next week, I would gather as much data as possible about what are the profit margins, how is going to affect the environment, what are the other steps that can be taken for safe disposal of the waste instead of straight away throwing it to the river, what are its costs etc. Then I would stress on the ethical issues that would arise from dumping the waste in to the river. What are our responsibilities as a leading organization in the chemical production field? It is true that we can set an example by lowering our profit margins by being environment friendly. This is also a very attractive step in terms of being an organization with clear corporate social responsibility goals and nut just being a profit loving selfish group of people.

I do realize that taking the stand that I discussed might cause the company to loose in profits or there might be personal consequences but we have to look at the larger picture here. We have to protect our shared environment. The policies made by the government can be influenced by large organization that might only be concerned about making profits and not be so curious what are the consequences of their profits goals for the society as a whole. Each organization must have a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) manifesto that guides it operations in relation to what their responsibilities are towards the society. As Professional working at different organizations, it is our responsibility to stress on ethical standards. Even if there are cases, where doing an unethical act might be perfectly in accordance with the law.




Tenbrunsel, A. E., & Messick, D. M. (2004). Ethical fading: The role of self-deception in unethical behavior. Social Justice Research, 17(2), 223-236.