Does an effort to please one group of stakeholders eventually please all stakeholders? Is making ethical choices always easy?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer to both of these questions is, without question, no.

Any decision made to please one set of stakeholders is not guaranteed to please all groups of stakeholders. Stakeholders, we must remember, can be defined as any group with an interest in what a particular business does. This means there can be stakeholders with wildly different interests. For example, imagine a business in the fracking industry. One group of stakeholders for this industry would be environmentalists who believe fracking is dangerous because it can pollute groundwater, cause earthquakes, and contribute to global warming. These environmentalists believe fracking should be banned. On the other hand, you would have a group of stakeholders who believe fracking is completely safe and/ or who want to make as much money as possible from the practice. How, then, would you make a decision that would satisfy both of these groups? It is, by definition, impossible to satisfy both those who would like to ban a practice and those who would like to promote it and profit from it. Therefore, this statement is false.

The second question's answer is also no. True ethical decisions are almost always difficult. Some decisions are easy, but these are not the true ethical decisions. For example, if your decision is whether to dump toxic waste into a water supply, the decision should be easy. It is easy enough to show that it really isn’t a serious decision. Real ethical decisions are much harder. For example, the example in the link below has to do with the ethics of doing business in a foreign country. Let's say your company sends you to represent them in an African country. The business culture of that country accepts bribery as a common practice. It is, in fact, practically impossible to do business there without bribing people. At the same time, bribing people is illegal under American law. What do you do? Is it ethical to bribe because that is what everyone does in this country? Should you follow the law even though that would mean giving up the chance to do business in that country? As you can see, this is a difficult issue. Questions like these are not always easy to answer. This is true of most serious ethical questions.

sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1.  An effort to please one group over another rarely makes everybody involved happy.  There are multiple groups with multiple things that they want to see done.  Anything you do for one group is going to upset other groups.  It's unavoidable.  About the only way to maximize the potential happiness of your shareholders is to effectively run and govern your business.  That means make money.  Shareholders may disagree and be unhappy with your decisions, but if you are making them money, they can hardly argue about it for long. 

2. Making ethical choices is definitely not always easy.  The reason for that is because the unethical choice is often the easier route to follow.  It's also likely to net more profits in the short term.  People like profits and they like easy.  It's not always easy to do what is right.