Organizations’ decisions have ramifications on different of stakeholders. Consequently, organizations face dilemmas in their efforts to make decisions that are within the realms of ethics as far as interests of the various stakeholders are concerned. The following case of a cookie making company that wanted to introduce automation to its packaging section is an exemplification of the ethical dilemmas that companies face. The current advancements in technology have allowed IT integration to almost all production functions.
The company’s packaging methods entailed the use of human power with twenty employees at the packaging section. The company sought to automate its packaging function for a variety of reasons. First, it was a way to enhance cost efficiency in production. The company was also expanding its production capacity, and the current packaging methods would be incapable of handling the extra output. Another reason was that automation was a quality control measure in the midst of concerns hygiene concerns and wastage associated with manual packaging. However, the decision presented a significant ethical dilemma to the company.
The twenty individuals involved in the packaging were primarily unskilled and of low education status. Their livelihood depended on the wages that they received from the company. Their lack of skills meant that they could not be absorbed into other departments in the company. Laying them off would take away their livelihoods, and it would be difficult for them to secure other occupations due to their lack of any special skills. However, the company is a growing venture and needs to expand its production capacities as a way of satisfying its expanding market, reduce cost and improve quality of processes and products in a bid to stay relevant in the competitive in industry.
An important step in every decision-making process is the assessment of potential alternatives. Hitt et al., (2014) note that there are different decision-making criteria that make it possible to have a wide range of options for the same issue. My perspective was that the company should proceed with the automation process while still accommodating the employees at the packaging section. My method of accommodation would be to provide training to enhance the skills of these individuals, and since the company was expanding, the employees would be easily absorbed to other departments.
Another alternative proposed for the proceeding of the automation plans and laying off the unskilled workers since the company’s sole existence was mainly to grow and make profits. Another viewpoint was that it was terrible to put the company’s interests above humanity and therefore the company shouldn’t proceed with the automation plans and instead seek to enhance production with the twenty employees on board and perhaps employee more people. The decision to equip the employees with skills that would make their accommodation within the company tenable is consequences-based. The decision aims at providing the best outcomes to the two conflicting parties where the business will still achieve its effectiveness and competitiveness goal while retaining the employee’s source of livelihood.
The proposal to proceed with automation and the layoffs is duty based. The idea’s argument is based on the fact that the company has a responsibility to pursue its profit motive regardless of the consequences of the means to achieving this goal. A virtue-based decision-making approach takes into account the factors of morality, motivation, and reputation (Icheku, 2011).
This is the approach taken by the alternative opposing automation in totality to avoid the resultant layoffs. The rationale of this approach in the context of the case under consideration is that it is morally wrong for the company to pursue profitability interest at the expense of the employees. It is worth noting that all alternatives present viable and feasible options and a brainstorming process would be necessary to achieve the best satisfactory decision.
Hitt, M., Colella, A., & Miller, C. (2014). Organizational behavior (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Icheku, V. (2011). Understanding Ethics and Ethical Decision-Making. Xlibris, Corp.