Essays on Ethical Decision Making Issues Literature review

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The paper 'Ethical Decision Making Issues' is a great example of a Management Literature Review. Recently, the Government of New South Wales approved the opening of one of the world’ s largest open coal mining sites. The New coal mine is located near the Leard State Forest and is expected to have an output of about 12 million tonnes per year of operation (ABC News). According to ABC News, the state’ s environmental planning commission claims they had applied stringent environmental standards before giving the project the go-ahead. On the other hand, environmentalists maintain that the new coal mining project will be a danger to the endangered trees and animals living in the Leard Forest.

Furthermore, environmentalist scientists argue that the effect of Australian coal on the environment goes beyond coal production and burning in Australia. It is alleged imported Australian coal contributes greatly to greenhouse gas emission. As a manager employed by Whitehaven Coal and a member of an environmental group concerned with the conservation of the local forest, taking a job in the new mine presents a challenging ethical dilemma. The dilemma is whether it is morally right to take up a job in a coal mining project that is linked to possible destructive effects on the local endangered forest.

One of the three models of ethical decision making can assist a manager facing an acute ethical dilemma to make an ethical decision. These models are the utilitarian, the moral rights, and the Justice model. In comparison to the other models, the justice model chosen ensures the interest of all stakeholders are addressed and balanced. The Utilitarian model of ethical Decision making The utilitarian model was originally developed to assist legislators determine which laws are most morally right.

According to Cameron, Miriam, Schaffer, and Hyeoun-Ae (2001) the utilitarianism model adopts the decision that brings the most happiness over all other decision options. The consequences of making a decision are the most important factor for consideration while using the utilitarian model of decision making. Where a decision produces the most happiness for those involved it is chosen. The Utilitarian model, therefore, emphasizes the satisfaction of most of the stakeholders involved in an ethical situation.

According to Cohen, Pant, and Sharp (2001) the utilitarian model's main strength is that it seeks to make the greatest number of people satisfied with the decision made. Secondly, the utilitarian model requires decision making to be objectively made free of emotions. Despite this, the utilitarian model has a number of weaknesses. Utilitarianism has been criticized because it ignores the opinion of the minority (Lau et al, 2007). The decision by the government of New South Wales to allow the opening of the new mine is one that is based on utilitarianism.

The decision allows the coal mine project to go ahead as it is in the best economic interest of the majority. Utilitarianism is also an unrealistic model that expects people to overlook their own interests over those of other people. If the manager decides to use the utilitarian model he may take the job despite the fact that it is against his interest in conserving the environment.


ABC News. Go ahead for one of the world's largest coal mines. (accessed 4th June 2013)

Cameron, Miriam E., Marjorie Schaffer, and Hyeoun-Ae Park. "Nursing students’ experience of ethical problems and use of ethical decision-making models." Nursing Ethics 8, no. 5 (2001): 432-447.

Cohen, Jeffrey R., Laurie W. Pant, and David J. Sharp. "An examination of differences in ethical decision-making between Canadian business students and accounting professionals." Journal of Business Ethics 30, no. 4 (2001): 319-336.

Lau, Cubie, John F. Hulpke, Michelle To, and Aidan Kelly. "Can Ethical Decision Making be Taught? The JUSTICE Approach." Social Responsibility Journal 3, no. 2 (2007): 3-10.

Loe, Terry W., Linda Ferrell, and Phylis Mansfield. "A review of empirical studies assessing ethical decision making in business." Journal of Business Ethics 25, no. 3 (2000): 185-204.

O’Fallon, Michael J., and Kenneth D. Butterfield. "A review of the empirical ethical decision-making literature: 1996–2003." Journal of Business Ethics 59, no. 4 (2005): 375-413.

Robertson, Chris, and Paul A. Fadil. "Ethical decision making in multinational organizations: a culture-based model." Journal of Business Ethics 19, no. 4 (1999): 385-392.

Vitell, Scott J., and Abhijit Patwardhan. "The role of moral intensity and moral philosophy in ethical decision making: a cross‐cultural comparison of China and the European Union." Business Ethics: A European Review 17, no. 2 (2008): 196-209.

Wagner, Suzanne C., and G. Lawrence Sanders. "Considerations in ethical decision-making and software piracy." Journal of Business Ethics 29, no. 1-2 (2001): 161-167.

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