In fall 1998, the U.S. Justice Department sued Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, accusing it of illegally using its Window operating system near monopoly to overwhelm rivals and hurt consumers. Specifically, the government accused Microsoft of merging its Web browser into its Windows operating system in order to crush Netscape Communication Corporation, its chief competitor in the browser business. By bundling the browser with Windows and using exclusionary contracts to prevent personal computer makers form hiding or removing the Microsoft browser, Microsoft prevented consumers from using rival browsers (particularly Netscape’s) and also discouraged systems other than Windows. Furthermore, the government accused Microsoft of conducting a campaign to curtail other potential threats form Intel, Sun Micro Systems, Apple Computer, and IBM that enabled Microsoft to extend its power to other areas, such as computer servers and Internet protocols, thus causing substantial and far-reaching harm to consumers by stifling competition and innovation in the software industry. The accusation were backed in court by oral testimonies of 26 witnesses, as well as thousands of exhibits, including numerous e-mail messages and other internal corporate records form the previous five years.…Read More »
Posts Selected From the Category "Business Ethics"
A question of central interest here is, how can corporations formulate socially responsible strategies? How can companies assure that corporate domain choice strategies and competitive strategies are responsive to social needs and do not harm the public interest? There are two basic approaches to dealing with these questions.
First is to evaluate the social merits of each corporate and business strategy selected based on financial, technological, and market criteria. For each strategy, one could ask these questions: What social good does the strategy contribute? Does the strategy create any public risks or harm? Does the strategy harm the interests of our stakeholders? How does the strategy affect public image and goodwill? Will the strategy lead us into social controversies? The answers to these questions can aid in modifying strategies to fit reasonable demands. The idea is not to abandon strategies that have even the slightest negative consequences, but to consider these consequences explicitly in an attempt to develop balanced strategies (McGuire, Lundgren, and Schneeweis, 1988).…Read More »
Even though corporate responsibility for increasing the wealth of stockholders is well recognized, other social responsibilities are only beginning to be accepted. Below is a brief list of the many areas in which corporations have acknowledged their social responsibility and established programs to deal with them.
- Responsibility for protecting the natural environment includes judicious use of natural resources, energy conservation, limiting polluting emissions, and waste management.
- Responsibility toward consumers: includes creating safe products and packages, educating consumers on product use and disposal, being truthful in advertising, and establishing a procedure for dealing with consumer complaints.
- Responsibility toward employee welfare: includes providing fair compensation and benefits and safe work environments, eliminating discrimination, providing opportunities for personal and professional development, and having progressive human resource policies.
- Responsibilities toward local, state, and federal government agencies: include fulfilling obligations under regulations and statures of these agencies, cooperating in planning and investigations, and coordinating administrative activities with these agencies.
- Responsibilities to the public or communities where the corporation has operations: include providing economic stability, safeguarding public safety, protecting the environment, and aiding in the development of social and cultural resources of the community through corporate philanthropy.
The dilemma of ethical decision making in business settings arises out of the tensions or conflicts between what is good for individuals, organizations, and society. These conflicts manifest themselves in rules that govern organizational behavior and in concrete decision situations.
Individual versus organizational conflicts are apparent when personal values of employees conflict with the requirements organizational tasks. For example, a junior accountant’s audit opinion may be based on ethical grounds. It may be rejected by his or her superiors who do not want to relinquish the business of the client by giving a negative opinion. A salesperson may consider the company policy of giving large discounts or personal gifts to selected customers to attract their business unfair and unethical. A marketing executive may object to company advertisements on the grounds that they are not truthful.
Conflicts between organizational and societal interests arise when corporations consume public goods without paying for them or when they sell goods that may have harmful effects.…Read More »
Williams had joined Star Corporation, one of the leading consumer electronics company, only a few days back as the Purchase Manager and he was going through the employees conduct manual. He was attracted by the clause, prohibiting acceptance of gifts by the employees of the purchase department. It read as follows:
“Purchase department employees shall not accept gifts from vendors. This is to ensure that no vendor is given any special treatment and the employees work only in the best interest of the firm at all times. Any deviation from the above would be dealt with severely and could mean dismissal from the firm.”
Williams remembered his experience with his previous firm, Maple Corporation, where he had worked from 2000 for six years as purchase head prior to joining the Star Corporation.
It was only six months since he was with the Maples when it was New Year. With the New Year came some inconsequential gifts like ball pens and key chains.…Read More »
Duplicating software for friends, co-workers or even for business has become a widespread practice. All software programs are protected by copyright laws and duplicating them is an offense. How, then, has making illegal copies become such a common and accepted practice in people’s homes and places of work?
Part of the answer revolves around the issue that software isn’t like some other intellectual property. Intellectual property is that which is developed by someone and is attributable directly to the thinking process. Software is different from a book in that anyone can easily copy it-and an exact replication is achievable. Another reason is related to cultural differences. People don’t see copy as stealing. People don’t find anything wrong in making a video copy of a hit feature film and selling it or hiring out.
People defend their behavior by saying: ‘Everybody does it! I won’t get caught! Or no one really loses!’
The same issue of copyright is involved in the famous Napster case in America.…Read More »