Ethics and Social Responsibility in Business and Society
In this module, we examined ethics and, in particular, ethics in the workplace. We also looked at social responsibility as it pertains to businesses (and other organizations) and the communities in which businesses operate. In this assignment, you will evaluate the level or degree to which a business, organization, and/or government agency is engaging in ethical and socially responsible practices. You will present this evaluation from multiple stakeholder perspectives.
This assignment will comprise 15% of your total course mark. Part A is a report on ethical standards, and Part B is a report on an ethical or corporate social responsibility issue in society. Each question carries the marks as stated for a total of 100 marks.
Part A: Instructions
Read the following:
• Donaldson, T. (1996, September). Values in tension: Ethics away from home. Harvard Business Review, 74(5), 48–62. [available through the TRU library]
• Case Study “Google in China” on pages 467–479 of your textbook.
Answer the following two questions.
• Note: In answering the questions, you should demonstrate your ability to incorporate and integrate your learning from all aspects of this module. Ensure that you include information from the course material, the readings, your journal, and your own research.
• Question 1: Do you feel that it is possible to develop a universal set of ethical standards for business, or do you believe that cultural differences make universal standards impractical and/or impossible? (15 marks)
• Question 2: Do corporations have a right and/or a responsibility to influence ethics in the countries in which they operate? Defend your position. (15 marks)
Part B: Instructions
Write a 2500-word double-spaced report on corporate social responsibility and related ethical issues in society. You should demonstrate your ability to integrate your learning from all aspects of this module. Ensure that you include information from the course material, the readings, your journal, and your own research. Select a topical, newsworthy issue that involves ethical and social responsibility issues relating to business and society.
The following are some topic suggestions. Pick one or choose your own topic and discuss it with your Open Learning faculty member if you have any concerns as to whether your topic is appropriate.
• Corporate and/or governmental involvement in China despite international criticism of the Chinese government with regard to human rights of Chinese and Tibetan people. You may choose to reflect on the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing or other issues that have been in the news with regard to China’s human rights record.
• Privatization of hospital services in one or more provinces in Canada (e.g. Ontario, Alberta and/or British Columbia).
• Pharmaceutical companies and the conflict over making HIV/AIDS drugs available in poor countries.
• The Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) outbreak in the Canadian cattle industry.
• Corporations manufacturing and distributing genetically modified foods.
• Corporations importing toys from manufacturers in China, given the discovery of lead in some toy products produced in that country.
• Wal-Mart or other big-box retail giants establishing operations in Canadian towns and cities.
• Another ethical or CSR topic of your choice.
Your report should cover the following:
• Section 1. Introduction: Introduce the topic and identify the CSR (and ethical) issue(s) that are of concern. Then, list the stakeholders that influence or are influenced by this issue. Be specific in naming individuals, groups, associations, and/or government bodies. Cite references for your research. (10 marks)
• Section 2. Rationale: Analyze the ethics of the issues involved using three of the methods of ethical reasoning (utility, rights and justice) described on pages 88–90 of your textbook. Then, indicate which of the three methods you feel is most helpful in evaluating the ethics of the relevant issue(s). Explain the reasons for your choice.
Note:In Section 2. Rationale, rather than estimating the actual costs and benefits involved, you may simply identity and describe the costs and benefits that you would consider (if actual cost-benefit information is not provided in the literature).
• Section 3. Impacts (What does this mean to my family?): Describe the potential and/or real impacts to you and your family. Are these impacts direct or indirect? Briefly explain why. (5 marks)
• Section 4. Impacts (What does this mean to my community?): Explore the potential and/or real impacts on the local or site community, as well as real or potential impacts on other communities. Describe these impacts from multiple perspectives, ensuring you represent both community and corporate (or organizational) perspectives.
• Section 5. Impacts (What does this mean to my country?): Are there broader impacts or ramifications associated with this issue? If yes, how do this ethical and CSR issue impact business and society in Canada as a whole? If no, explain why not.