Ethics and Social Responsibility in Business and Society

Introduction

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.

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Part A is a report on ethical standards, and Part B is a report on an ethical or corporate social responsibility issue in society.

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 TRU Library.

Re-read Discussion Case: Chiquita Brands: Ethical Responsibility or Illegal Action on pages 111-112of your textbook.

Answer the following two questions:

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)

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.
Part B: Instructions

Write a 2,500-word, double-spaced report on corporate social responsibility and related ethical issues in society. 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 email 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.

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 wellhead blowout in 2010 at a deepwater drilling platform operated on behalf of British Petroleum (now BP) in the Gulf of Mexico

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

Walmart, Target, or other big-box retail giants establishing operations in Canadian towns and cities

KGHM International’s proposed Ajax mine project in Kamloops, BC

Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, BC

Kinder Morgan’s proposed TransMountain pipeline expansion from Alberta to Burnaby, BC

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 83–87 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. (30 marks)

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. (15 marks)

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. (10 marks)

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