ETHICS OF CONSUMER PRODUCTION AND MARKETING – Theories and Definitions Tuesday, Dec 2 2008 

How far must manufacturers and their representatives go to make their products and services completely safe?

WHAT Is the relationship between a business and its customers? a contract, or is there more to it than that?

Hos does the fact that companies usually know more about their products than their customers IMPACT their duty to protect customers from injury or harm?

What responsibility do businesses have for customer injuries no one could reasonably have foreseen or prevented?

What about customer’s privacy – what obligations do companies have?

 

MARKET APPROACH TO CONSUMER PROTECTION:

Consumer safely is seen as a good that is most efficiently provided through the mechanism of the free market whereby sellers must respond to consumer demands.

PROBLEMS WITH THE ASSUMPTION OF FULL INFORMATION:

 

  • Many products are too complex for consumers to understand
  • Markets cannot provide consumers with product information.

 

FREE RIDERS:

individuals who enjoy the benefits of a good without paying their share of its costs.

RATIONAL UTILITY MAXIMIZER:

A person who has a well defined and consistent set of preferences, and who knows how personal choices will affect those preferences.

PROBLEMS WITH THE ASSUMPTION OF RATIONAL UTILITY MAXIMIZATION:

 

  • Few people are good at estimating probabilities.
  • People are irrational and inconsistent when weighing choices.
  • Many consumer markets are monopolies or oligopolies.

 

CONTRACT VIEW OF THE FIRM’S DUTIES TO ITS CUSTOMERS:

The view that the relationship between a business firm and its customers is relationship, and the firm’s moral duties to the customer are those created by this contractual relationships.

RELIABILITY:

The probability that a product will function as the consumer is led to expect that it will function.

SERVICE LIFE:

The period of time during which the product will function as effectively as the consumer is to led to expect it to function.

MAINTAINABILITY:

The ease with which the product can be repaired and kept in operating condition.

PRODUCT SAFETY:

The degree of risk associated with using a product.

MORAL DUTIES TO CONSUMERS UNDER CONTRACTUAL THEORY:

 

  • Duty to comply with express and implied claims of reliability, service life, maintainability, and safety.
  • Duty of disclosure
  • Duty not to misrepresent
  • Duty not to coerce

 

DUE CARE THEORY OF THE MANUFACTURER’S DUTIES TO CONSUMERS:

The view that because manufacturers are in more advantaged position, they have a duty to take special care to ensure that consumers’ interests are not harmed by the products that they offer them.

CAVEAT EMPTOR:

Let the buyer take care.

CAVEAT VENDOR:

Let the seller take care.

 

AREAS OF PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY ACCORDING TO DUE CARE THEORY:

 

  • Design
  • Production
  • Information

 

SOCIAL COSTS VIEW OF THE MANUFACTURER’S DUTIES TO CONSUMERS:

The view that a manufacturer should pay the costs of any injuries sustained through any defects in the product, even when the manufacturer exercised all due care in the design and manufacture of the product and has taken all reasonable precautions to warn users of every foreseen danger.

 

  • Manufacturer should pay the costs of all injuries caused by defect in a product even if exercised due care.
  • Argues that injuries are external costs that should be internalized.

 

STRICT LIABILITY:

A legal doctrine that holds that manufacturers must bear the costs of injuries resulting from product defects regardless of fault.

CRITICISMS OF THE SOCIAL COST VIEW:

 

  • Unfair to manufacturers since it forces them to compensate unforeseeable injuries.
  • Assumption that adherence to the social cost view will prevent accidents is false.
  • Leads to successful consumer lawsuits in cases where manufacturers took all due care.

 

COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING:

Communication between a seller and potential buyers that is publicly addressed to a mass audience and is intended to induce members of this audience to buy the seller’s products.

 

  • Public communication aimed at mass audience
  • Intended to induce members of its audience to buy the Sellers’s products
  • Succeeds by creating a desire for the seller’s product or a belief that a product will satisfy a pre existing desire.

 

PRODUCTION COSTS:

The costs of the resources consumed in producing or improving a product.

SELLING COSTS:

The additional costs of resources that do not go into changing the product, but are invested instead in getting people to buy the product.

DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING:

 

  • Is a function of the author’s intent to make the audience believe what is known to be false.
  • OR a function of The media’s communication of the false message.
  • OR a function of The audience’s vulnerability to deception.

 

RIGHT TO PRIVACY:

The right of persons to determine what, to whom, and how much information about themselves will be disclosed to other parties.

PSYCHOLOGICAL PRIVACY:

Privacy with respect to a person’s inner life.

PHYSICAL PRIVACY:

Privacy with respect to a person’s physical activities.

IMPORTANCE OF PRIVACY:

 

  • Protects individuals from interference, shame, embarrassment, hurting loved ones, self-incrimination
  • Enables the development of personal relationships,professional relationships, distinct social roles and self determination.

Business Ethics – Various Definitions and Theories Friday, Nov 28 2008 

Business Ethics:

The principles of conduct governing an individual or a group.

Business Ethics:

Ethics is the study of Morality.

 

Ethics is not the same as morality, it is a study  of various dimensions of Morality.

Ethics is the discipline that examines one’s moral standards or the moral standards of a society.

WHAT IS MORALITY?

The standards that an individual or a group about what is right and wrong or good and evil.

MORAL STANDARDS :

The norms about the  kinds of actions believed to be morally right and wrong as well as the values placed on the kinds of objects believed to be morally good and morally bad.

NON MORAL STANDARDS:

The standards by which we judge what is good or bad and right or wrong in a nonmoral way.

5 Characteristics of Moral Standards:

  1. Involved with serious injuries or benefits.
  2. Not established by Law or Legislature.
  3. Should be preferred to other values including self interest.
  4. Based on impartial considerations
  5. Associated with special emotions and vocabulary

NORMATIVE STUDY:

An investigation that attempts to reach conclusions about what things are good or bad or about what actions are right or wrong.

DESCRIPTIVE STUDY :

An investigation that attempts to describe or exploan the world without reaching any conclusions about whether the world is as it should be.

BUSINESS ETHICS:

A specialized study of moral right and wrong that concentrates on moral standards as they apply to business institutions, organizations and behaviour.

BUSINESS ETHICS STUDIES:

  • Moral Standards
  • How moral standards apply to social systems and organizations that produce and distribute goods and services.

KINDS OF ETHICAL ISSUES:

  • Systemic – Social Systems or institutions within which business operate.
  • Corporate – An Individual Company taken as a whole
  • Individual – A Particular individual or individuals within a company and their behaviours and decisions.

ETHICAL RELATIVISM :

A theory that there are no ethical standards that are absolutely true and that apply or should be applied to the companies and people of all societies.

Objections to Theory of Ethical Relativism:

  • Some moral standards are found in all societies.
  • Moral differences do not logically imply relativism
  • Relativism is incoherent
  • Relativism privileges the current moral standards of a society.

 

Kohlberg’s Three Levels of Moral Development :

  • Preconventional – Punishment and obedience; instrumental and relative.
  • Conventional – Interpersonal concordance; law and order
  • Postconventional – Social contract, universal principles

MORAL REASONING:

The reasoning process by which human behaviours, institutions or policies are judged to be in accordance with or in violation of moral standards.

Objections to Bringing Ethics into Business:

  • In a free market economy,the pursuit of profit will ensure maximum social benefit
  • A manager’s most important obligation is to the company.
  • Business ethichs is limited to obeying the law.

Arguments Supporting Ethics in Business:

  • Ethics applies to all human activities
  • Business cannot survive without ethics
  • Ethics is consistent with profit seeking
  • Prisoner’s dilemma argument
  • Customers and Employees care about Ethics

Elements of Moral Responsibility:

  • Individual must cause or fail to prevent an avoidable injury or wrong.
  • Individual must know what he is doing
  • Individual must act of his own free will.

RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:

http://www.scu.edu/ethics

http://www.ethics.acusd.edu

http://www.web-miner.com/busethics.htm

http://www.essential.org

http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml

http://www.betterworldlinks.org/book100.htm

http://www.corpwatch.org

http://www.worldwatch.org

http://www.arq.co.uk/ethicalbusiness

http://www.bsr.org

http://www.mallenbaker.net/csr

http://www.pwblf.org

BUSINESS ETHICS Friday, Nov 28 2008 

Business Ethics is applied ethics in the day to day operations of the business.

It is the on the court application of our understanding or what is good and right to that assortment of institutions, technologies,transactions,activities and pursuits that we call BUSINESS.

Although ethics may be the best policy, the ethical course of aciton is not always clear.

We will try to explore this issue in details through the various series of blog postings in the coming days. The purpose is not to give moral advice but to provide a deeper knowledge of the nature of ethical principles and concepts and an understanding of how these apply to the ethical problems encountered in business.

This kind of knowledge and understanding will help managers in charge to see their way through the various ethical dilemmas that one confronts in our business life.

REFERENCE BOOK:

BUSINESS ETHICS – Concepts and Cases by Manuel G. Velaszquez