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Model for Ethical Decision Making in Business

In: Business and Management

Submitted By Daniel1
Words 10524
Pages 43
J Bus Ethics (2011) 104:311–323 DOI 10.1007/s10551-011-0910-1

A Model for Ethical Decision Making in Business: Reasoning, Intuition, and Rational Moral Principles
Jaana Woiceshyn

Received: 11 February 2011 / Accepted: 16 May 2011 / Published online: 28 May 2011 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Abstract How do business leaders make ethical decisions? Given the significant and wide-spread impact of business people’s decisions on multiple constituents (e.g., customers, employees, shareholders, competitors, and suppliers), how they make decisions matters. Unethical decisions harm the decision makers themselves as well as others, whereas ethical decisions have the opposite effect. Based on data from a study on strategic decision making by 16 effective chief executive officers (and three not-soeffective ones as contrast), I propose a model for ethical decision making in business in which reasoning (conscious processing) and intuition (subconscious processing) interact through forming, recalling, and applying moral principles necessary for long-term success in business. Following the CEOs in the study, I employ a relatively new theory, rational egoism, as the substantive content of the model and argue it to be consistent with the requirements of longterm business success. Besides explaining the processes of forming and applying principles (integration by essentials and spiraling), I briefly describe rational egoism and illustrate the model with a contemporary moral dilemma of downsizing. I conclude with implications for further research and ethical decision making in business. Keywords Ethical decision making Á Integration by essentials Á Intuition Á Moral principles Á Rational egoism Á Reason

Introduction Whether people make decisions ethically or not is not a trivial matter, as the outcome of those decisions can make a significant difference to their...

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