In this case study, the primary stakeholders include the television company, its employees and clients who constitute both small and big businesses. One of the relevant facts to the case study is that any business is established with an overall objective of making and increasing the profit margins. It is the increase in profits which makes businesses to grow and expand.
Another fact is that for a business to grow, it must be overseen by qualified and competent people. The other fact s is that business people always look at ways of cutting costs and maximizing the profits. They tend to avoid any cost which is avoidable.
Oscar is a competent marketing researcher while Laurence is an ambitious general manager.One of the ethical issues which concerns Oscar is that of deontology.In business ethics, deontology requires employees to perform their duties as per the given instructions leaving no room for them to give their opinion regarding the consequences of their actions as they perform their duties. They are supposed to perform their duties as instructed because doing otherwise would be unethical (Seven oaks school, 2013).
The deontological aspect in Oscar’s dilemma has to do with doing what is right as per a person’s duty. As a marketing research manager, he is supposed to do what he is advised to do by Laurence the general manager.
According to deontologists, doing this is ethically correct despite the fact that it would lead to suffering by small businesses that may not be able to pay higher fees to the television station. In this case therefore, doing the right thing is not in any way linked to the consequences because deontological ethics has to do with what is right as per a person’s duty.
Another ethical issue is that of Kant’s categorical imperative. Kant is famous for taking a neutral position on ethical matters. In his first way of formulating categorical imperative, he argues that one should act based only on those maxims for which he or she would be happy if the actions were to become universal laws. In his second formulation, Kant argues that we should treat humanity not only as an end in itself but also as a means to some end (Chadwick, 1993).
In this case study, Kant’s categorical imperative applies through the second formulation of his categorical imperative which has to do with how to treat humanity. The company’s management seems to treat human beings just as means to some end but not as end. For instance, the general manager wants Oscar to do a subjective research which has the potential of locking out small businesses from accessing the television channels for advertisement purposes.
The other ethical issue is that of utilitarianism.One of the key proponents of utilitarianism is Jeremy Bentham, who belong the 19th century philosophy. According to him, the principles of human interactions are based on the overall good. In this sense therefore, good is looked from an objective sense in that what is good is seen as what produces ‘good’ for the maximum number of people (Scarre, 1996).
Utilitarianism can be explained using the principle of ‘the end justifies the means’, meaning if the end of a process or action is good, then the means of arriving at that end are also good and justifiable (Schofield, 2006).
According to the model therefore, for an action to be considered as ethically or morally correct, it should have an outcome which benefits the maximum number of people. What this means is that people should focus on the end of a process but not the means of arriving at that end (Julia, 2009).
In this case study therefore, the best action from a utilitarian perspective would be for Oscar to produce the subjective research findings as instructed by his boss Laurence. This is because the action will lead to an increment in profit margin by 28%, which would produce a maximum good despite the fact that it would impact negatively on the small businesses.
Oscar therefore has two alternatives. One of them is to do as per the instructions of the general manager and end up losing his integrity as a marketing researcher. From a rights perspective, this alternative would lead to the violation of the rights of the stakeholders especially the small businesses who may not be able to pay high fees to use the television station for advertisement purposes.
From a justice perspective, the action will be against the principle of natural justice which requires people or entities to be treated in a fair manner irrespective of their political, social or economic value.
In this case study, Oscar seems to be the key determinant of the way forward. He should sit down with Laurence and convince him that doing a subjective research is not only unethical but also wrong and therefore unjustified. He should also show him the possible side effects of such a decision to the television station in case the stakeholders get to know about it.
Chadwick, R. (1993).Immanuel Kant: Critical Assessments. New York, NY: Routledge.
Julia,D. (2009). The History of Utilitarianism. Retreived 4th, August, 2013, from <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/utilitarianism-history/#JerBen >
Scarre, G. (1996). Utilitarianism. New York, NY: Routledge.
Schofield, P. (2006). Utility and Democracy: the Political Thought of Jeremy Bentham, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Seven oaks school. (2009).Ethical Egoism. Retrieved 4th, August, 2013 from,<http://www.sevenoaksphilosophy.org/ethics/egoism.html >