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Case: Evaluation of Ethical Dilemmas in Microsoft

Acting either ethically or unethically has consequences. Businesses need to rationalize and analyze the driving force behind their decisions to ensure they can maximize profits using ethical models. Oracle Corporation and Group International are facing accusations of having used unethical means to achieve their objectives. During Microsoft’s antitrust trial, Microsoft hired the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) to promote the new technology. Microsoft Corporation was the main financier of ACT.

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Oracle hired Group International, a fierce Microsoft competitor, to carry out private investigations and find out information linking ACT to Microsoft. Group International, with the help of its employee Ms. Lopez, made two unsuccessful attempts to influence officials of ATC through corruption to gain the necessary information.

The organizations and individuals that were parties to the dispute found themselves in an ethical dilemma. Experts categorize their unethical behavior under Buying Influence or Engaging in Conflict of Interest (Jennings 203). Ms. Lopez offered each of ACT’s employees $ 50-60 to get ACT’s trash from which they would retrieve the necessary information. The employees turned down the offer. The group then suggested $ 500 per person convincing the employees to cooperate. Once again, they refused the offer. Despite the two rejections, Group international, Ms. Lopez, and Oracle were ethically wrong, as they conspired to buy influence. They undertook investigations into the affairs of ACT in an illegal and unethical manner (Bickenbach 56).

On the other hand, the ACT’s employees were morally right. They did not divulge the trade secrets of their employer. It could have been unethical if they had been working in a health organization and hide results of medical studies that showed that the firm’s drugs had diverse side effect (Bickenbach 56).

Additionally, Microsoft acted unethically when it hired a group that it financed. ACT had stakes in Microsoft Corporation. Hiring ACT, therefore, could have been consider as a conflict of interest. Microsoft’s actions fall under an ethical issue referred to as Balancing Ethical Dilemmas (Jennings 206).

Balancing Ethical Dilemmas is a condition in which there is neither outright correct nor wrong response. The corporation had ethical issues to resolve. It must have struggled with the decision whether to hire ACT because of the relationship between them. In some respect, hiring the group would have created the impression that ACT was not reliable. On the other hand, it wanted to create a source of finance for the group. Solving this dilemma was a difficult task. However, the relationship would have been tenable if Microsoft allowed the organization to be independent.

The public often wonders what influences most actions of corporate executives. It is common to hear reports of corporate executives that engage in preventable unethical activities. Sometimes intellectuals and effective leaders exhibit unethical behavior because they have never walked through the steps of resolving ethical dilemma. In addition, they rely more on rationalizations rather than on the evaluation of ethical dilemmas.

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Oracle, Group International, Ms. Lopez and the other parties used numerous rationalization languages to justify their unethical decisions. Most likely, they said, “Everyone else does it”. Microsoft might have chosen to focus on marketing its products by using enticing information because it was the norm. ATC, on the other hand, might have focused on making money, irrespective of the outcome.

Additionally, Oracle must have reasoned that the system was unfair. It possibly considered that its chief competitor would become indomitable, if left unrestrained. Besides, court litigations would favor the technological giant. As a result, Oracle decided to use unfair means to remain relevant in an “unfair business world”.

Another rationale some of the parties used to disclaim their responsibility was stating, “I was just following orders”. Ms. Lopez might have justified her decision to attempt to use corruption to influence the decision of ATC staff. In most cases, just following orders is unethical as well.

Another rationalization they might have depended on is “It doesn’t really cause harm to anyone”. When the media asked Mr. Ellison to state what had motivated them to corrupt the staff, they said their actions would have harmed any no one. Ellison clarified that they were simply attempting to bring some crucial information to the light. “That’s public service,” he said. Ms. Lopez also had the same opinion. Ms. Lopez argued that having paid the ATC staff for their service, everyone would have benefited from that. The rationalization techniques were the reason for the failure of the organizations and individuals to reach ethically correct decisions (Jennings 201).

The organizations could reach ethically correct decisions if they use ethical models. Oracle, Ms. Lopez, and Microsoft could have used “The Front-Page-of-the-Newspaper Test model”. This model requires that every decision maker should foresee how a media reporter would depict the decision on the front page of a newspaper (Jennings 207). Oracle could have thought about the consequences of its actions. Since there are avenues for solving problems in the business world, Oracle could have visualized the possibility of the media labeling, such as corrupt dealer or enemy of justice. All the parties should have demonstrated an exceptional understanding of the law. Violation of the law can be regarded as breach of ethical principles.

References

Bickenbach, Jerome Edmund. Ethics, law, and policy. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE, 2012. Print.

Jennings, Marianne. Business: its legal, ethical, and global environment. Mason, Ohio: Thomson/South Western West, 2006. Print.

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