Essay On Ethical Dilemma

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The subject for the following discussion is the case study on ethical dilemma in Shellington pharmaceuticals. In the case, there are a number of instances where employees are involved in unethical conduct while performing their duties. However, some of them hold high ranks and posses undisputable skills in their fields of practice. As evidenced from the response from the company’s president when he was questioned on the conduct of a particular employee, the company is ready to compromise some principles of ethics in order to retain certain personnel. Amidst several complaints concerning the conduct of a certain employee in the company, the company management has been relaxant in addressing the issue. Presumably, the skills portrayed by the employee are very high and the problems are solved in the course of duty even without serious intervention from the senior management. This essay focuses on a number of issues drawn from the case study on ethical dilemmas in Shellington pharmaceuticals. The first concern is to enumerate the visible cases of non-ethical behavior in the business environment as stipulated by the case study. This will be followed by a brief view of how leadership comes in addressing unethical business conduct and the effectiveness of the strategies used to address the problems. Last but not least, this essay will pay particular attention to some practical solutions to unethical business behavior that is favorable to all stakeholders in a business.

Environmental factors and ethical considerations

The case study focuses on a number of issues concerning business ethics and correct behavior. To begin with, the cases of mistreatment of subordinate staff are evident in Shellington pharmaceutical. This issue is raised by an employee during a casual lunch conversation. According to the complainant, roger Jacobs, manager of new product development had kept a recurring record of ill-treating subordinate staff. There were a number of reported cases, with some employees seeking the intervention of senior management to no avail. From some of the reported cases, Jacobs had been using inappropriate and derogatory remarks while addressing members of staff. There were also a number of cases on sexual harassment that had been reported against Roger Jacobs.

The most disturbing fact is the rate at which the allegations against her were increasing. These allegations not only accumulated in number, but also adopted higher severity as per the principles of business ethics. Despite the seriousness of the allegations presented against Roger Jacobs, the management was still relaxant in addressing the issues. The issues were neglected on the basis of her competence and the fact that it was difficult to get another product development manager who was as good as Jacobs.
The issues raised in this case study are highly significant and directly applicable in various business environments, the happenings at Shellington pharmaceutical are common in several corporate and non-profit making organizations. However, these issues are not addressed due to varied reasons such as business interests of the organization. Senior managerial staffs recognize the utility of their staff members at the expense of business ethics in the long run, other members of staff and consumers suffer as a result of unethical business practices among employees.

In the case study on Shellington pharmaceutical, the factors affecting ethical choices include the productivity of the employee in question, business advantage gained through the employee and the rank that he/she holds in the company. For instance, the president of Shellington pharmaceutical argues that it is impossible to replace Jacobs due to her ‘eye for new products’. This argument is based on Jacobs’s skills in her area of expertise. The president overlooks the seriousness of the allegations put across against Jacobs because of her contribution to the company. The main factor that affects ethical choices according to the case is basically the employee’s contribution in a given company.

The criteria for ethical decision making can be applied in Shellington pharmaceutical to improve how business operations are run in the company. Here it would be imperative to view of ethics as a goal as opposed to viewing it as a pathway to a certain achievements (kidder, 1). According to Ethicist Richard kidder, companies should work towards adopting full and uncompromised ethical behavior in business rather than using ethics as a way of achieving certain goals. A viable ethical decision making criteria for this case would be to adopt a systematic approach towards implementing the components of ethical behavior. Some of these components include: moral sensitivity, moral judgment, moral motivation positive character and ethical problem solving. Incorporation of the various components of components of ethical behavior will automatically influence decision, making in the company. Ethical problem solving is more relevant in this case as it addresses the issues in the company directly.


The company in the case study uses a short term planning and goal setting method. Planning and goal setting in this company is based on the presumed outcome of a certain venture. For instance, the company president focuses on the potential of the new product development manager and ignores the ethical issues surrounding this particular employee. This system of planning does not address the future repercussions of the unethical conduct portrayed by some of the senior managers in the company. Feedback and complaints raised are not addressed adequately, yet feedback is a vital component in ensuring that a company attains its goals for a certain financial year (Lapsley, 313). In this case study, decisions are solely made on the basis of their immediate effects on the marketability or profit increment in the company. Sensitive issues such as sexual harassments are ignored because the management thinks that they are less important in the operation of the company. Here the principles for decision making are inclined towards the profitability of the company at the expense of moral and upright code of conduct.


One principle in organizing is the setting up and recognizing protocol. This is a situation where leaders give directions to their followers and the subjects make reference from their leaders before taking serious decisions. Through organization managers are able to harness resources and get things done (kidder, 4).This principle is evident in the case on ethical dilemma where the vice president consults the president before addressing the issue of Jacobs’s unethical behavior. This shows that there is a system that governs how operations are run in Shellington pharmaceutical. Presence of a chain of command is another characteristic or principle in organizing. The new product manager responds positively after a meeting with the vice president of the company. This compliance is evidence that a chain of command exists in the company. Responsibility is another characteristic of organizing that is evident in the case. The vice president takes responsibility in addressing the issue of unethical conduct portrayed by Jacobs immediately after assuming office.
Change is evident in the cases where there are a few alterations in the managerial staff like the introduction of a new vice president to the company. However some members of the company do not appreciate change fully. For instance, the president to the company thinks that losing roger Jacobs as the new product manager, would impact negatively on the company. This argument is biased because there are still chances of getting more productive and ethical product managers. The argument put across by the president shows that he is more reluctant to change.


Attitude, personality traits and emotional intelligence are evident in the case study on ethical dilemma. Attitude or approach towards certain things in the company is different among the managerial and subordinate staff. A clear case is the way the president and vice president approach the allegations made against roger Jacobs. According to the president the issues can be handled at a later date while feels that the issues require immediate attention and takes initiative in addressing the issues.

The form of leadership in Shellington pharmaceutical company is delegative. In the company, different members of staff have varying responsibilities. They carry out these responsibilities without much supervision from the managerial staff. Understanding of motivation in this case, is not very evident In this case. However, there are a few cases that show that leaders in the company understand and acknowledge the role of motivation in a business environment. The vice president puts emphasis on the essence of staff motivation by reminding Jacobs to keep the morale of subordinate staff in check.

Effective communication is clearly evident in this case. There is use of verbal communication through telephone and direct talks. In the case, the mode of communication is chosen depending on the situation. The vice president chooses to hold a one-on-one meeting with roger Jacobs to discuss her conduct while Sally Barton from the resource management makes a call to notify the president that she had found a solution to the pending problem. Despite the efficient use of communication in the company there are a few cases of where staff members have portrayed inadequacy in communication. The way the president responds to the concerns about Jacobs conduct is rather informal unacceptable in the business environment. Also Jacobs’s act of using inappropriate and derogatory remarks on subordinate staff portrays inefficiency in communication. Regardless of the position that a person holds in an organization there is need to use courteous language when talking to colleagues and customers in a business. Poor communication skills delay development and may lead to staff demoralization.

Teamwork is a vital component in any profit making organization. In the case on ethical dilemma the vice president sensitizes Jacobs on the benefit of maintain high morale among employees and ensuring that they work as a team. Division among members of staff is a great barrier to substantial development. When a group is divided, every individual works towards different goals that are of his/her personal interest. The organization’s plans and strategies are neglected or partially implemented leading to poor results or low productivity.


Total quality management (TQM) refers to an organizations effort in creating a permanent record of continued delivery of high quality products and services to its consumers. The president’s intention, of wanting to retain the new product manager due to her productivity portrays his willingness to continually supply quality products to customers. He fully recognizes Jacobs’s ability and skills in her area of expertise regardless of heavy accusations concerning her conduct. From this case, control is closely tied to authority. The vice president uses his authority in the company to address the concerns on Jacobs conduct even when the president does not show willingness to address the issue. Even so, excessive control may have a negative impact on the perspective that members of staff have towards the management. For instance, several complains are raised by subordinate staff members when Jacobs misuses her authority in the company.

Summing up the entire discussion on ethical dilemma, it is important to look at the basic functions of management in and out of this case. As earlier stated planning, organizing, leading and controlling are evident in the actions of leaders in Shellington pharmaceuticals. Similarly, these functions are fundamental in any corporate organization as they play a key role in ensuring that business owners get substantial gain from their investments. Control and leadership aids in solving the issue of unethical conduct in the case. This clearly shows the significance of the basic components of management in running a business and solving problems.

The basic functions of management have contributed to coordinated running of Shellington pharmaceutical. For instance, the president uses his leadership skills in ensuring that members of staff remain motivated to work towards the goals of the company. He also addresses Jacobs in a formal and courteous way regardless of the fact that there are several alleged cases of her misconduct. By neglecting the complaints on Jacobs’s behavior, the company’s management shows lack of concern on issues pertaining to social responsibility. Addressing the issues of her conduct would safeguard the staff members and the consumers from mistreatment. From the study, it is evident that companies sometimes tend to concentrate of monetary gain at the expense of ethics. This in turn results in production of substandard products or poor services.

Work cited

Eynolds, S. J. Moral awareness and ethical predispositions: Investigating the role of individual differences in the recognition of moral issues. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 233–243. American Psychological Association,2006.
James, H. S.Reinforcing ethical decision-making through organizational structure. Journal of Business Ethics, 28(1), 43–58; Werhane,2000.
Lapsley, D. K. and Hill, P. L. On dual processing and heuristic approaches to moral cognition. Journal of Moral Education, 37, 313–332; Haidt,2008.
Potter, R. B. The logic of moral argument. In P. Deats (Ed.), Toward a discipline of social ethics (pp. 93–114). Boston: Boston University Press,1972.
Seiler, S. Developing responsible leaders. Paper presented at the International Leadership Association Conference, Prague, Czech Republic,2009.
Kidder, R. M. How good people make tough choices: Resolving the dilemmas of ethical living. New York: Fireside,1995.