A Newsweek article on business ethics concludes, "Even in today's complex world, knowing what's right is comparatively easy.  It's doing what's right that's hard."  Explain why this statement may be true in modern corporate decision making.

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I believe that this statement is true in a variety of settings. It does not only apply to corporate business. It could apply to relationships, schools, and governments. I will assume the truth in "knowing what is right is comparatively easy." I do not think that this is necessarily true...

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I believe that this statement is true in a variety of settings. It does not only apply to corporate business. It could apply to relationships, schools, and governments. I will assume the truth in "knowing what is right is comparatively easy." I do not think that this is necessarily true for everyone, and I think a large part of that statement assumes most people are raised with a strong moral compass.

The difficulty in doing what is right all of the time comes from the fact that doing right can often be the strategy that does not provide the biggest payoff in terms of company growth or monetary benefits. Let us assume that everyone agrees that cheating is wrong. It still happens because people either want the reward that comes with doing well or because they do not want the punishment that comes with doing poorly. Two options exist: work hard, do it the right way, and hope for the best, or take the easier route and cheat to ensure a beneficial outcome. The cheating option is easier, quicker, and is more likely to provide a larger guarantee of success. Corporations can cheat in a plethora of ways, and if a company is not likely to be caught for doing something wrong that would result in a huge advantage for the company, then doing the right thing seems like a lot of extra work for no concrete gain. Doing the right thing might make employees feel good about themselves, and this is worth something. However, it might only have intrinsic value. I believe that there exists many people in this world that do not value intrinsic reward very highly. A person that finds value in materialism, hedonism, fame, fortune, and so on will likely believe that doing the action that gets them their extrinsic reward is the right thing to do. In this case, individual gain is more important than following someone else's version of what is right.

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It seems likely that this has always been true.  However, it may be even truer in today’s business environment.

It is likely that this statement is accurate when it says that knowing what is right is easy.  In most cases, it is easy to know when you are cheating or when you are deceiving someone in order to gain an advantage for yourself.  There is not that much in the way of gray areas in such cases.

But the problem comes when you have to force yourself to do the right thing.  We now that we, as individuals, have a hard time making ourselves do the right thing when the wrong thing is more beneficial to us.  The same is true for the people who make decisions for companies.  It would be very hard to knowingly choose to take an action that is ethically right, but which will hurt your business.  This is particularly true today because the business environment is so very competitive.  In today’s globalized world, all firms have to compete as hard as they can to get ahead.  In this sort of an environment, it would be even harder to do the right thing given that doing so might well lead to the failure of your company.  

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