Business Ethics Questions

1.  How has the ethical landscape changed in the business world in terms of its importance to companies and their employees?

According to Trevino and Nelson, back in the early 90s people were wondering if business ethics was just a fad.  Many companies were just beginning to implement ethics-based training and universities were similarly slow in offering business ethics courses.  However, after nearly 25 years, these authors are convinced that business ethics is far from a fad after witnessing and understanding its importance for successful business practices.  However, now that the issue of business ethics is much more popular, a lot of cynicism about business and its role in society has developed.  Many people believe it’s impossible to achieve the “good-good-good-(etc.)” scenario that the Whole Foods’ founder discussed because there have to corners cut somewhere.  Where Trevino and Nelson are trying to argue, however, is that while some difficult decisions may need to be made by companies, and while others may be involved in unethical behavior, “the business landscape is a varied one that is actually dominated by good, solid businesses and people who are even heroic and extraordinarily giving at times.”

2.  What are the main differences between what Mills would describe as ‘troubles’ and ‘issues’?

The main difference between these two phenomena are that troubles occur within an individual and his or her personal life, whilst issues are matters that affect many people and have many different, complicated viewpoints associated with them.  What I found to be interesting in the description of ‘troubles’ and ‘issues’ is that they can very much pertain to the same thing.  As Mills suggests, topics such as unemployment, war, and marriage all have many ‘troubles’ within them, while also being considered ‘issues’ because of how many people they affect and the controversy that often surrounds them.

3.  Are ethics important enough in professional sports?

After watching the Boston Celtics play the other night, I had the opportunity to complain to all my friends who were also watching it about just how much I hate Kevin Garnett.  The man is a great basketball player, no doubt, but after watching his actions on and off the court for many, many years, I just think he is a bad person.  Even other NBA players, like Joakim Noah, for example, have spoke out about just how dirty of a player he is.  A couple weeks ago, Carmelo Anthony was thrown out of a game for reacting to trash-talking by Kevin Garnett which supposedly included expletives regarding his wife.  After discussing this with my friends, I became irate when one of them said, “But he plays with so much passion.”  OK, so what?  At what cost?  When did being an a**hole just in order to win a basketball game become kind of cool?   What kind of example is that setting for our youth?  In another ethics-related case, I remember reading a couple weeks ago about a certain NBA team using a rookie (who was only 19) to promote buying beer for the fans.  Being a basketball player myself, ethics-related issues in the professional sports world are of particular interest to me because it IS a business, a large one at that, and I too often see sketchy practices like the ones listed above as being too acceptable.  Anyway, it’s something I will continue to look into as the semester goes on.


10 thoughts on “Business Ethics Questions

  1. After reading the Apple article do you agree with the description you provided in question 1 about the business landscape being generally “dominated by good, solid businesses and people”? While I agree there are a lot of business-ethical people out there, do you think more should be done to prevent companies like Apple from acting so inhumanely?

  2. Unfortunately, I think famous athletes sometimes feel that they are above the law and as a result they can act however they want. They can forget at times that they are a role model to so many little kids so watch their every move and try to act like them. I do agree that professional sports is a business and these famous athletes need a reality check once in a while. Our society treats professional athletes as celebrities and it is acceptable to not act respectfully all the time. In my opinion, there are a lot of athletes who are great role models, but the sporting industry as a whole is not dominated by good, solid people. Kevin Garnett has been in the league for a long time so you would think that he would have learn the importance of being a class act, but instead he is hurting more people than he thinks by his negative actions. It is arguable that he will never learn because that kind of behavior does not have any major consequences in the league.

  3. I completely agree with your response to Question 3. In sports, ethics to take a backseat to making money and selling tickets. In reality, the whole thing is a big business. Your post reminded me of our discussion in class how many times, companies will put on a face where they seem dedicated to going green or practicing good ethics. In sports especially, this is just used to popularize the sport and convince the public that they are generally a “good” entity. I am also sick of the hypocrisies and unethical behavior that exist in professional sports and would love to see substantial change in the future.

  4. In response to your third question, I would like to say that I believe ethics are very important in sports, but more so for the organizations/teams than the individual players themselves. Sports provide an incredibly competitive environment, where tempers flare and emotions can get the best of a man. Having an opponent with diametrically opposite objectives during physical activity is bound to lead to players saying the wrong thing from time to time. Up to a certain point, I find the trash-talking and highly competitive nature to be inherent to the game. With that being said, when a player does act out of line, it should become the responsibility of the entire organization to settle this dispute in an ethical way. In your example, the Celtics should look into possible discipline for KG, or for other ways to try to prevent that from occurring. It then becomes the responsibility of the athlete to act in the best interest for the organization, and in order to keep good standing, they must follow the rules. Basically, the point I am getting at is that sometimes players may act one way, but it is the job of the organization to remain ethical, which includes instilling proper behavioral rules for its players and disciplining them when necessary.

  5. As a fellow college athlete myself I completely agree with your third response. Luckily, our head football coach constantly reminds us to “be the class of college football.” This really has struck to me because we have played teams who have no class and ignore ethics. When this happens, the game stops being about competition and becomes personal. As you can see by Kevin Garnet’s behavior, when a game involves personal attacks, people get hurt. In addition, I completely agree with Vinny that it is up to the organization to remain ethical. Coaches and organizations have the ability to bench players. Organizations can enforce ethics through not signing players like Garnet. By doing this, they show that they will not tolerate that behavior and force him to stop behaving unethically or stop playing basketball. For example, when Dez Bryant got caught multiple times for selling and using drugs, the Dallas Cowboys created a contract that he had to sign that stated if he did not follow the rules on that contract he would be released. So far Dez Bryant has completely followed the contract and not broken any rules. This shows that organizations do have the power to ensure ethical behavior, they just need to will too enforce it.

  6. In fact, the relationship between private troubles and public issues is even deeper than your answer states. Public issues are exactly those social conditions that create private troubles. From Mills’ perspective, there is NO public issue which does not become a private trouble.

    Take the housing market which has been rotten since 2007. Many people may feel trapped by underwater mortgages or less wealthy due to falling home prices in their neighborhoods. There are all sorts of ways those people may try to solve the problem, or simply feel uneasy, They will question their choice to buy, buy in that neighborhood; they may take second jobs to help meet bills; they may work three times as hard on lawn care to try and make their home look nicer. Mills’ point is that a full understanding of those private troubles is that they are rooted in the public issue of a weak housing market and ALSO: WHY that market collapsed and continued to be weak for so long.

  7. Fake foul play in soccer isn’t that rare to see. Do you see it as unethical? Abusing rules to your own benefit sounds just like something not so ethical to do. Or, perhaps, players do not fake, and are just rather physically week individuals. Anyways, it is a common practice, and players are even trained to be such good actors. Here is a little compilation of the most obvious “fake” plays.


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