Business Ethics: John Q. (2002)
Today, health care issues are closely associated with social issues and business ethics because of the role of employers, insurance agencies, and hospitals in resolving health care issues. In his movie John Q. (2002), Nick Cassavetes discusses many ethical questions which the health care industry faces with references to the insurance policy. The main character of the movie is John Quincy Archibald, whose son Michael suffers from the enlarged heart diagnosed recently after the incident during the baseball game, and Michael needs a transplant. However, John’s insurance cannot cover the costs of the operation because the employer decides to change the type of John’s insurance.
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As a result, Michael, as a representative of the working family has few chances to be operated because of the family’s impossibility to find the necessary sum of money. John Archibald sees the decision of the problem only in taking the hospital hostage and demanding to add Michael to the list of the hospital’s patients for the transplantation. John’s final decision is to commit suicide to become a donor for his son, but the aspects of the situation change, and the donor for Michael is found as well as physicians agree to operate (Burg, 2002). Thus, John overcomes many ethical and legal issues to find a way to save the life of his son, opposing the official rules and policies.
Such ethical and legal issues as the concentration on Utilitarianism, whistleblowing, trust, and honest questions are discussed in John Q. with references to depicting John’s decision-making process and motivation of the hospital administration representatives. Utilitarianism “is an ethical tradition that directs us to make decisions based on the overall consequences of our acts” (DesJardins, 2011, p. 24).
The actions of the hospital administration based on refusing John’s demands to provide the operation for the son without the necessary sum of money can be explained with references to the Utilitarian approach because the focus on an exception for John’s son can result in the uncontrolled negative consequences. Thus, Rebecca Payne states in the movie, “What, you think Mr. Archibald’s the only one who has a sick child? Have you checked out the HIV ward? There’s a whole floor full. People get sick, they die” (Burg, 2002). From this point, making good for one child cannot provide more good for many people suffering from the same problem.
Despite following the strict policy rules in the hospital, different representatives of the staff are ready to perform as whistleblowers to accentuate the unjust character of the situation. Whistleblowing is unethical activities oriented against the employer because of realizing the secret corporate information (DesJardins, 2011, p. 92). However, these activities can be discussed as unethical to the hospital’s interests and positive for persuading John to take decisions.
The issues of trust and honesty are closely associated with the decision-making processes made in the movie. John’s trust about the employer and insurance policy is broken because of facing the weaknesses of the policies and the administrations’ dishonesty. As a result, John’s decision-making process depends on finding ways to ignore the policies. The decision to take the hospital hostage is influenced by such factors as the dishonesty of the employer who did not provide John with the information about changing the type of insurance and dishonesty of the hospital’s administration who did not diagnose the disease earlier as well as did not provide the correct information about the list of patients for transplantation.
Thus, the employer and hospital administration are the outside stakeholders who influenced John’s decision. It is possible to state that the position of the hospital’s administration, which did not provide John’s family with a chance to save Michael affected John’s decision to use guns to achieve the goal more significantly because of breaking the ideas of trust and honesty.
Having analyzed the events depicted in the movie, it is possible to state that John experienced negative and positive consequences of his illegal actions. On the one hand, he achieved the goal and protected the interests of his son, his actions contributed to saving the man’s life. On the other hand, John endangered the lives of patients waiting in the hospital’s emergency room because of his aggressive intentions. From this point, the sentence provided for John evokes many ethical questions (Burg, 2002). The main consequences of the situation for the public and health care industry are in revealing the necessity to revise the policies from the ethical point of view to avoid the issues in the future.
Thus, in John Q. (2002), the principles of Utilitarianism are obvious about the hospital’s administration representative’s attitude to the problem and the position of John’s employer. The issue of whistleblowing is characteristic of the hospital’s culture, and it negatively affects the organization. Moreover, John’s behavior can be discussed as the reaction to the unethical and unfair approaches used by the hospital, employer, and insurance company to save the costs instead of saving people’s lives.
Business Ethics: Wall Street (1987)
Many businessmen agree that to survive in the cruel world of business it is necessary to find the balance between making ethical decisions and focusing on profits. The problem of the ethical business world is discussed in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street (1987), where Bud Fox and Gordon Gekko are the followers of the specific or false business morality according to which all the means are good to receive more profits. Bud Fox, a junior stockbroker, begins to work with Gordon Gekko, a legendary corporate leader, demonstrating the unethical behavior associated with whistleblowing and insider trading.
This approach provides Bud with a lot of opportunities to increase his profits and complete a dream to become wealthy and successful. Gekko’s ruling force is greed, and Bud chooses Gekko as a role model for his career, betraying the interests of his father and other people involved in the two men’s machinations. Finally, Bud Fox is in jail, and it is a turn of Gordon Gekko to pay for his unethical behavior and actions (Pressman, 1987). Thus, the issues of responsibility, whistleblowing, insider trading, and the fact of betraying trust and loyalty are discussed in the movie Wall Street.
Bud Fox intends to win the favor of Gordon Gekko to receive his help and mirror his prominent success. However, Bud chooses unethical ways to achieve his goal. Thus, Bud relies on whistleblowing and insider trading as effective techniques to assist Gekko in his schemes. The plan works, and the information about Bluestar Airlines contributes to realizing Gekko’s unfair intentions.
Bud’s cooperation with Gekko and his specialization in insider trading is beneficial for Bud and Gekko personally, but these actions influence the companies’ employees negatively. From this point, the issues of responsibility and loyalty are involved. According to Desjardins, “loyalty is understood as a willingness to make personal sacriﬁces in the interest of the firm and … it is often claimed the employees have an ethical responsibility to be loyal employees” (DesJardins, 2011, p. 166). Nevertheless, Bud and Gekko do not discuss the interests of the firm till the issue is associated with the question of profits and benefits, and their enrichment is the main goal of activities.
Moreover, Gekko is irresponsible about the interests of employees with references to the situation when the Bluestar staff was fired because of Gekko’s plans. If Gekko does not demonstrate responsibility and loyalty in any business situation, Bud is inclined to act responsibly when he tries to break the plans of Gekko regarding Bluestar.
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Gekko’s decision-making process is influenced by his greed, which affects his business behavior. Gekko states, “I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! … greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit” (Pressman, 1987). From this perspective, the ideas of loyalty and responsibility cannot affect Gekko’s behavior in any way.
Bud’s decision-making process can be influenced by different factors depending on the obvious consequences of the actions. Thus, greed influenced Bud’s actions when he chose insider trading as his method, and the position of his father and the feeling of responsibility affected his behavior when he developed the plan to prevent Gekko’s destructive actions in Bluestar.
It is important to note that the unethical behaviors of Bud and Gekko are punished at the end of the movie, according to their unjust and illegal actions and crimes. The consequences of the unethical decision making are observed not only in the cases of the characters’ imprisonment but also in the impacts of the situation on their lives and visions. Thus, Bud rethought his unethical behavior and corporate crimes and chose to betray his business idol to act ethically about the other people who were deceived by Gekko (Pressman, 1987). These changes in Bud’s understanding of the situation and ethical behavior in the business world can be discussed as positive ones.
Paying attention to the principles of ethical business and cases discussed in Wall Street (1987), it is necessary to discuss such issues as managerial and employee responsibility, loyalty and trust, ethical decision making, whistleblowing, and insider trading. Bud and Gekko are depicted in the movie as persons who do not concentrate on the interests of the other people, even to the corporate culture and ethical decision making because they focus on gaining more profits. Gekko is presented, as an embodiment of irresponsible corporate leaders, whose main goal is the satisfaction of his greed, and Bud is a perfect example of a whistleblower and inside trader who discusses his interests as more important than the interest of the whole company and the other employees.
Burg, M. (Executive Producer). (2002). John Q. [DVD]. USA: New Line Cinema.
DesJardins, J. R. (2011). An introduction to business ethics. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Pressman, E. R. (Executive Producer). (1987). Wall Street [DVD]. USA: 20th Century Fox.