Coping with Everyday Ethical Dilemmas
We normally need case studies to explore ethical dilemmas, always with referential principles used to define what we think is right or wrong. Said principles are usually preordained, resulting from our life experiences, and help us draw a line between good and bad. Summing up perennial values and moral virtues like honesty, fairness, and responsibility, these principles seem theoretically untouchable and flawless. Though, both time and day to day situations force us to adjust these values, rephrase those principles and reposition the line delimiting the acceptable.
Same goes for real-life situations in the workplace. Values and principles stated in any Ethics and Compliance Program are not always easy to observe when tested by the unexpected and uncertainty. Is it possible to define those principles so that to withstand any test? Probably not, since managers have to cope quite often with potential conflicts of interest, mismanagement of resources, biased interpretations of contracts and agreements, to name just a few. Apart from “black and white” they have to operate in a very challenging “grey area” where things are far from being simple. Some might say that all they have to do is to consider their decision’s effects for the stakeholders while keeping a keen eye on the compliance issues. What happens when a wrongful situation is favourable for the shareholders? Or a hypothetical situation presents choices which entail ethical dilemmas, even if the expected outcome is “for the greater good”?
We posit that best way to cope with ethical and compliance dilemmas is to use a combination of subjective and objective instruments for risk assessment. These should be helpful when we deal with uncharted or unexpected ethical issues falling under the category of a “grey area”. How can we assess some dimensions of said issues which are not measurable? This is the question that we try to answer throughout the present paper.
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