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Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk about How to Do It Right, 6th Edition by Katherine A. Nelson, Linda K. Treviño

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CHAPTER 4

ADDRESSING INDIVIDUALS’ COMMON ETHICAL PROBLEMS

Here's the bad news about business ethics: your career can be irrevocably damaged if you mishandle an ethical issue. But there's also good news: many ethical issues in business are quite predictable. You can be fairly certain that during the course of your career, you'll run into myriad ethical problems such as a customer who asks for a special deal or terms in order to make the sale, or questions about the appropriate use of corporate resources, or discrimination of one sort or another. Since many ethical issues are somewhat predictable, you have a better chance of dealing appropriately with ethical problems if you think about what's likely to happen before it occurs. And you should now have tools to help you make better decisions.

Before we get into a discussion of ethical issues, however, it's important to look at the relationship that exists between you and your employer. Although most people don't sign a written contract on the day they join a company or organization, there is an implied contractual relationship of sorts between workers and employers. Both parties have expectations, and rights, and offer consideration to the other—all are characteristics of a contractual relationship. Your employer pays you in salary and benefits to perform a job, and your organization expects you to behave in a certain way; you have a responsibility to be “part of the family” and exhibit loyalty and other corporate “virtues” and ...

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