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Unethical Behavior in the Workplace

Essay by   •  September 19, 2011  •  Case Study  •  551 Words (3 Pages)  •  3,671 Views

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Unethical Practices in the Workplace



George W. Bush, Jr. (2002) during his corporate responsibility speech quoted: "At this moment, America's highest economic need is higher ethical standards--standards enforced by strict laws and upheld by responsible business leaders."Crossing the line between ethical and unethical behavior has taken center stage in the workplace. The ability to make ethical decisions is based on one's conscience, which definitively tells a person whether or not the decision made is appropriate for everyone involved. According to the American Heritage College Dictionary (2007), ethics is defined as a set of principles of right conduct; a theory or a system of moral values. Unethical behaviors can include a list of activities, such as: employees making long-distance calls on business lines, taking office supplies home, falsifying the number of hours worked, or much more serious and illegal practices, such as embezzling money from the business, or falsifying business records.

There are many forms of theft. In addition to lost supplies and equipment, an employee with little self or organizational pride can subject that organization to losses in time, production, overhead charges, initiative, professionalism, customer respect, reputation, attitude, spirit and drive. Different people have different views regarding what is ethical and what is unethical. For example, some people feel that it is alright to tell a little "white lie", or to make one long distance call at the company's expense, as long as they can justify it in their mind. Business ethics as a branch of ethics rests on the assumption that there can be many circumstances in peoples' lives when it is morally proper-or at least unobjectionable- for them to seek mainly to advance their personal wealth or the wealth of those who have hired them (Machan and Den Uyl, 1987). Circumstances alone do not play a huge role in making unethical decisions, there is also opportunity, such as position competitiveness, contract competitiveness, and company positioning. Just the idea of getting ahead would lead a person with low moral character to make unethical decisions. However, research has suggested there are ways to avoid improper or unethical behaviors in the workplace.


This literature review identifies characteristics of ethical business cultures. The rewards to organizations supporting ethical cultures include increased efficiency in daily operations and decision making, employee commitment, product quality improvements, customer loyalty, and improved financial performance (Ferrell, Maignan, and Loe, 1999). It is important to appreciate the fact that we must first establish an environment of trust before we address the issue of loyalty within



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