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Chapter 2 Organizational Communication Ethics

PLEASE NOTE: This book is currently in draft form; material is not final.

Why Ethics

PLEASE NOTE: This book is currently in draft form; material is not final.

In this chapter we examine how the philosophical world of ethics can be applied to organizational communication. When people hear the word “ethics” used in modern society, many different images and incidents quickly come to mind. Sadly, the 21st Century has already been plagued with many ethical lapses in the business sector. Turn on any major global news station, newspaper, magazine, or podcast and you’re likely to hear about some business that is currently in a state of crisis due to lapses in ethical judgment. Table 2.1 "Modern Ethical Lapses" contains a short list of organizations and their various ethical lapses in judgment.

Table 2.1 Modern Ethical Lapses

Organization Ethical Lapse
Arthur Andersen Accounting Fraud & Shredding documents wanted in a criminal investigation
Boeing Industrial Espionage
Bridgestone-Firestone Delaying a recall of defective tires
Catholic Church Sex Abuse and cover up
Coca-Cola Taking groundwater from local farmers in India
Enron Accounting Fraud
Halliburton Overbilling for products and services
Martha Stewart, Inc. CEO committed insider trading with her sell of her ImClone stock.
McDonald’s 8 individuals provided winning game pieces from McDonald’s Monopoly game to family and friends.
Merrill Lynch Lying to investors
Napster Digital copyright violations
Parmalat Italian dairy company’s fraudulent accounting practices
Sanlu Group Co. Chinese based company knowing distributes tainted baby formula.
Tyco CEO was caught embezzling funds.
US Military Prisoner Abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan
WorldCom Accounting Fraud
Xerox Exaggerating Revenues

In this chapter, four distinct areas of ethical understanding will be explored: nature of ethics, business ethics, communication ethics, and organizational communication ethics.