.. their employment duties and they all should have been aware of which parts were intended for government use. Ambiguity is not an excusing factor of moral responsibility for the workers. Also, the fact that some employees failed to act in an ethical manner gives even more moral responsibility to that employee. While some are definitely more morally responsible than others, every employee has some burden of weight in this case. In fact, when the government reached a final resolution, they decided to further impose repercussions and certain employees of National Semiconductor were banned from future work in any government office (Velazquez, 54).
Looking at the case from the standpoint of National Semiconductor, the outcome was favorable considering the alternate steps that the government could taken. As explained before, it is ideal for a company to be able to conduct its own investigation as well as its own punishments. After all, it would be best for a company to determine what specific departments are responsible rather than having a court of law impose a burden on every employee in its corporation. Yet, since there are ethical issues of dishonesty and secrecy involved, National Semiconductor should have conducted a thorough analysis of their employees as well as their own practices. It is through efforts like these that a corporation can raise the ethical standard of everyone in their organization. This case brings into light the whole issue of corporate responsibility.
The two sides that must ultimately be balanced are the self interests of the company, with main goal of maximum profit, and the impacts that a corporation can cause on society (Sawyer, 78). To further strengthen this need, one could argue that there are very few business decisions that do not affect society in way or another. In fact, with the plethora of corporations, society is being affected on various fronts; everything from water contamination to air bag safety is a concern. The biggest problem that all of us must contend with is that every decision that a business makes is gauged by the financial responsibility to their corporation instead of their social responsibility to the local community, and in some cases, the international community. This was pointed out on various occasions as the main reason why National Semiconductor falsified their reports.
The cost that the full tests would incur did not outweigh their profit margins. Their business sense lead them to do what all companies want . . . maximum profit.
In the opinion of the executives, they were acting in a sensible manner. After all, no executive wants to think of themselves as morally irresponsible. (Capitman, 118). The question that naturally arises, in debating corporate responsibility, is what types of checks and balances can be employed within a company to ensure that a corporation and all of its agents act in an ethical manner. Taking the example of the National Semiconductor case, one can notice many failures in moral responsibility.
National Semiconductor would have to review its employees, particularly the supervisors, for basic ethical values such as honesty. example, ultimately it was the widespread falsification of the testing documentation that caused the downfall of National Semiconductor, not the integrity of their components. In the synopsis of the case it is never mentioned that the employees initiated this idea, it would seem that it was the supervisors that gave the order to falsify the documents. In order to accomplish this, the company executives would have to encourage their employees to voice their concerns in regards to the advancement of the company. Through open communication, a company can resolve a variety of its ethical dilemmas.
As for the financial aspects of the corporation, it has to decide whether the long term effects that a reprimand from the government can have outweighs their bottom line. In other words, corporations have to start moving away from the thought of instant profit and start realizing both the long term effects and benefits. These long term benefits can include a stronger sense of ethics in the work force as well as a better overall society. To conclude, I must say that I agree with the use of mitigating factors in determining moral responsibility. A company, as defined by law, is only a name on a piece of paper.
The company acts and conducts itself according to the employees that work in that entity. I use the word employee because in ethical thinking there should be no distinction of rank within a company. There are times when executives can be held directly responsible and at the same time, there are cases where employees are acting unethically without the executives knowing. Neither title of executive or employee equates to moral perfection. Therefore, when a company has acted irresponsibly, its employees must be held liable in a proportionate amount.
As for the future of ethics in business I would speculate that if employees started to think more in long term benefits and profits, many of the ethical dilemmas that we face today would be greatly reduced. As mentioned before, businesses today uses the measuring stick of profitability. There needs to be a shift to the thinking of total utility for the social community in order to weigh business decisions. Opponents would argue that this is a long term plan that require too many radical changes in the face of business. Also, there is no way that an industry wide standard can be set since there are too many types of corporations. Plus, companies have different needs and every moral rule is subjective according to the type of business that everyone conducts.
In response, I would argue that although there are no industry standards that are feasible, it is possible for every company to examine their practices as well as the attitude of their employees. There will be companies that find that they are doing fine with employees that are aware of their moral values. Yet other companies will find that they do have areas that need improvement. It is steps like these that start implementing changes. Once a few companies start to see the benefits of changes, it can help to encourage other companies to follow suit.
After all, as seen in the case of National Semiconductor, mistakes in one department can cause the deterioration of an entire corporation. When the costs that are possible are taken into account, the changes required to rectify this are small in comparison. Bibliography Capitman, William. 1973. Panic In the Boardroom. New York: Anchor Press-DoubleDay Publishing Harris, Kathryn, Chips Maker Feels Attack on Four Sides Los Angeles Times April 4, 1982.
Pg. B1 Pava, Moses. 1995. Corporate Responsibility and Financial Performance. London Quorum Books Reder, Alan. 1944. In Pursuit of Principle and Profit.
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New York Times February 4, 1979. Pg. 1 Velazquez, Manuel. 1992. Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases. New Jersey Prentice Hall Publishing.