The Business of Business

Michael Katira

What are the stereotypes that people of have on the business society today? They make a lot of money, they are greedy, and they only look out for what makes them more money and makes their revenue stream strong. Throughout my freshman year at Santa Clara University, I’ve had the privilege to analyze my future profession and the society that I will be a part of one day. While it does supply a stable future for you and your family, there is nothing perfect about the corporate society. In CTW 1, I researched on how compassion was non-existent in the business world. I came to the conclusion that while compassion exists outside the office; it fails to make a presence inside the boardroom. In CTW 2, my focus shifted from corporations to small businesses and how the DIY philosophy affects that society positively. With a little help from my business ethics class, I can pinpoint why business ethics is seen as unethical. 

Bluffing

Bluffing is a practice that is very evident and prevalent in today’s business society. In the eyes of Albert Carr, a past writer from the Harvard Business Review, compares the ethics of business to the one’s used in a game, more specifically, Poker. In a game of poker, you would bluff what is in your hand in order to gain an advantage of having people think the cards in your hand are bad. However, you know you have a winning hand at your disposal. Carr says that businesses bluff the same way in order to gain an advantage to sell products or adjusting prices to receive more profit (Carr). The main difference between the two is that playing poker is optional, participating in business is not. By buying necessities, you are participating in business. All businessmen and women know this, so they manipulate and deceive their clientele into doing business with them. This type of ethic is only present in the business society, which makes it different from the moral ethics that guide our lives.

Game ethics vs. Moral Ethics
Game ethics vs. Moral Ethics

 

Advertising

Next, we go into the role of advertising and how it affects the ethics behind corporations. There are two types of advertisements: Informative and Persuasive. Informative advertisements provide information about the product being advertised. For example, a Kraft cheese ad saying that their cheese is made from 100% natural milk. However, the problem with this kind of advertising is that it is deceptive. Kraft can say that their cheese is made from real milk, but in reality it may not be. Companies use this tactic to inform the consumer of the “healthy” and “naturalness” of their products. However, they stretch the truth in order to attract more consumers and generate profit. Persuasive advertisements are more psychological and leave more mental pictures than informative facts. An example would be having an attractive female drinking a bottle of Coke, which makes people believe that if they drink Coke, they will be seen as attractive. These ads are manipulative because they make consumers feel less autonomous about themselves. In an article written by Charles Lippke titled, Advertising and the Social Conditions of Autonomy, Lippke believes that persuasive advertising gets rid of any sense of autonomy within consumers and the ads played on T.V. He proclaims that advertisement companies “govern what consumers do within their commercials” (Lippke). By this, he means that consumers will do what the advertisement says because of the appealing images that appear on the ads. It’s a psychological effect. More and more corporations are benefiting from these types of ads.

Persuasive Ads: Very Attractive
Persuasive Ads: Very Attractive

With the use of these advertisements, the ethics used in business is becoming more negative and seen as corrupt. The stereotype of sole priority of businesses is to maximize profit is becoming more apparent within the normal society. While many people choose to not buy the products that have deceptive or manipulative advertisements, many have no choice because the necessities they rely on in their lives portray such ads and continue to buy them. For example, someone who is suffering from alcoholism may see a commercial for XX beer (Dos Equis beer) with the most interesting man in the world ad and feel obligated to buy a pack of that beer so he can be just like the guy on T.V. However, he is hurting himself because he is trying to fight his addiction to alcohol but when the ad plays on T.V, he can’t resist the urge to buy a 6 pack of XX beer. It is a very unethical way of generating revenue, which is why the ethics in the business world is seen as disgusting and unethical.

 

I don't always advertise, but when I do, I prefer to lie
I don’t always advertise, but when I do, I prefer to lie

Management and Executives

            Management is the foundation of the lower level employees in a corporation. The task of a manager is to motivate the lower level employees in order to optimize production and create more profit that the executives can receive. But exactly how loyal are managers to their companies? Robert Jackall, a writer, described the actions of some managers in his article, Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers. He proclaims that managers care more about what “happens in the short run rather than in the long run” (Jackall). He believes that managers make decisions that benefit the company financially for a short amount of time to show the executives that the company is profitable. By making the company profitable, they are given rewards such as a raise, extended vacation time etc. that they may not deserve. Their mentality is that if they make a mistake that affects the company negatively in the long run, they would leave the company and have the next manager in charge deal with the crisis. People are mostly hired as managers and do not get promoted to that kind of position as often. The life of a manager depends on moving from company to company. It is a very cruel way to look and treat a business and someone who is about to enter that business for the first time, but it is becoming a norm in today’s corporate society. This negative work ethic shows how low people will stoop to make a profit in any business setting. Now what about at the executive level?

Management of Corruption
Management of Corruption

Those at the top of the business totem pole, the executives, have the last say in what happens within that corporation. Most of them run a lucrative and well-managed and egalitarian business. Those who do not are seen as totalitarian and show no signs of compassion within their business family. After all, without their employees, the business fails. What we define as moral ethics in society is laughed at in the executive level department. For example, lets take Donald Trump, owner of a multi-national corporation, a supreme billionaire and a celebrity due to his reality show, The Apprentice. On The apprentice, x number of candidates fight for one management level position in Donald Trump’s company, so it’s all out war. Each week, one person is fired due to a lack proper work ethic or just showing lack of leadership skills. In season five, one candidate was fired for stepping up for her fellow teammate and by telling the truth to Trump. However, Donald Trump said that what she did was “stupid” and then proceeded to fire her. Classic example of why moral ethics are ignored in the business society. This action was very cruel but in the ethical world of business, this is normal. Either go with the flow or go home. Now, this was a reality show, so maybe it was exaggerated, however another example of deceptive advertising. What the public sees from broadcasting companies may or may not be true, but whether this is normal inside a board room or not, it shows the unethical side of the business society.

You're Fired!
You’re Fired!

To summarize, the ethics practiced in business is different than the ethics and values that we live by in our lives. We see the disparities through ads, management, executives and product development. It just goes to show what people will do for a buck.

Michael Katira

___________________________________________________________________

Carr, Albert Z. “Is Business Bluffing Ethical?” Harvard Business Review(1968): n. pag. Web.

Jackall, Robert. “Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers.” (n.d.): 82-95. Web.

Lippke, Richard L. “Advertising and the Social Conditions of Autonomy.”Business and Professional Ethics Journal 8.V (n.d.): 35-58. Web.

Trump, Donald. “Summer of Sam’s Club.” The Apprentice. NBC. New York City, New York, 27 Feb. 2006. Television.

 

 

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