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This topic is set up for the College of Business to assess our Learning Goal on Ethics. Please address these questions separately in your responses.
Below is a short fact set about the relationship between the physical environment, governmental regulation, and business. Following the fact set are discussion questions offered in three categories to help you 1. identify and define the dilemmas, 2. articulate possible outcomes and consequences, and 3. analyze and apply solutions.
Stewards of the Environment
Each year businesses, individuals, and governments face the impact of droughts, fires, hurricanes, tornados, and floods; all disrupting lives and the economy. This is a good time to talk about the environment. In the US, issues of the environment and global warming arguably take a backseat to the economy and current political rhetoric and civil strife. For several years former presidential candidate Al Gore tried to raise awareness about global warming and the roles of business, government, and industry and is currently in the news with his An Inconvenient Truth, Sequel. Even though 2016 and 2017 were reported to be the warmest years on record, whether he or others will have an impact in the US or abroad is yet to be fully seen. Environmental stewardship is not without consequences (good or bad) and failure has legal, ethical, societal, financial considerations.
As other issues fade, the environment may resurface as a prime-time news issue. How it will rank with the current presidential agenda, the economy (jobs, military funding, and federal budget), the continuing healthcare issues, conflicts in the Mideast, and other pressing topics facing the US federal government will be interesting. Certainly the private business sector faces pressure from both internal and external stakeholders when the banners of environmental protection and social responsibility are hoisted. The question of corporate moral responsibility for the environment can easily fade from the media spotlight until a public figure promotes the message or an environmental crisis erupts and CNN or 60 Minutes or some other news agency appears at the corporate headquarters demanding answers with cameras running.
Beyond the legislated and governmental mandates (EPA, UN Environment Programme, or the Stockholm Declaration, among others), how far should corporate responsibility for the environment extend? For example, do trees, lakes, oceans, and animals have rights? Why, or why not? Could there be such a thing as a “one-level-removed-stakeholder” that would include “non-human” stakeholders? What is the likely outcome if environmental issues continue to succumb to political rhetoric and business profit/loss statements? So what if the dozen or so residents of a South Pacific atoll are displaced due to rising sea levels or a butterfly in the Amazon rainforest goes extent due to deforestation?
1.Definition and Framework:
a.What is the ethical dilemmas included above?
b.What are the ethical issues and what are the legal issues?
c.How do you define the ethical framework for addressing the ethical and legal issues?
a.What is the impact or consequences of considering environmental implications in business decisions?
b.Who/what are the stakeholders and what are the interests of each?
c.What are the consequences for each stakeholder?
d.What are the possible outcomes when addressing environmental issues in business decisions?
3.Application and Analysis:
a.What are examples of businesses engaged in ethical conduct and unethical conduct?
b.What solutions are available from governmental, business/industrial, environmental, and global perspectives?
c.How do you determine which business decisions relating to the environment are best?
d.What additional information would you need and how would you go about collecting this information?