Recently, Coca Cola has launched Vitamin Water as a brand extension to its health conscious market segment of USA and around the globe. Vitamin water is healthy in a sense by which it contains various vitamins and minerals. At the same time, an un ethical choice by the company as an employee within Vitamin Water manufacturing, we understand that each bottle contains a high sugar content as well. We're marketing these to health conscious consumers who might not realize the unhealthy dark side of Vitamin Water. I am writing this memo to bring to your knowledge that how ethically wrong this is and to hopefully encouraging You to lower the sugar content within each bottle. In this memo, I will discuss that how the ethical decision making and how critical thinking impacts ethical decisions in Coca Cola.
Ethical Issues In Organizations
When we are faced with making an ethical decision we are usually faced with an ethical dilemma. To make a good decision we need to use "Logical thinking that draws conclusions from facts and evidence" which according to www.ncrel.com is the definition of critical thinking, following an ethical decision making model which can help the company to make an ethical decision of changing the contents of Vitamin water bottles.
The ethical decision making model I followed and will break down is from the Josephson institute of ethics. The memo has discussed the four basic questions in a decision making analysis and to finally come to a conclusion and make a decision.
1. For a decision maker to recognize the range of ethical decision choices faced by him it is necessary firstly to identify whether any organizational, professional or issue-related code of ethics is available or not. This is because codes and enforcement improve ethical behaviour (Weaver and Ferrell, 1977). Thus he should look for contemporary code of ethics, as this would provide him with better decision choices. Next, the decision maker should assess the stakes involved in each choice. In order to recognize the various decision choices the decision maker should be aware of the moral principles he is applying. Such principles would be shaped by the moral philosophy to which he subscribes (Akaah, 1997; Verbeke et al., 1996). Finally, he should obtain the relevant facts that would provide him with clearer exposition on each choice. Gathering of facts should be done from all possible sources: internal and external to the organization.
2. Though the moderating and navigating variables have already put their effect - which would alter the magnitude and direction of each step - yet at this phase the decision maker must make a conscious evaluation of the various decision choices available, by using three variables, as evolved through factor analysis. The first would be to analyze the impacts of each decision alternatives on various stakeholder groups. This has loaded highest in this factor (0.845) showing the relative importance of this variable at this step. Both polarities of every impact must be considered to understand to what extent and in which form such impacts can affect all the stakeholders related with the alternative. Probability of effect was originally proposed by Jones (1991) in his moral intensity construct but the results of factor analysis has structured it in this group with a high loading of 0.809. The decision maker while evaluating various decision choices available to him must consider the likelihood of the possibility of the consequences, which can arise if a particular alternative is chosen. Finally, of course, he should consider the attending harm and benefits likely to emanate from each alternative if they are implemented. Considering consequences thus forms another crucial variable at this stage.
3. Moral judgment is deciding what is morally right. Moderators and Navigators would, at this stage provide sufficient influence and direction to the decision maker to arrive at this phase. Rest (1979) has stated that persons function within a range of moral development and this article goes a step forward in stating that corporate decision makers, at this step, must make moral judgments keeping in view the stage of moral development in which they are presently operative. However, to know this, the organization can administer various tests to determine the level of cognitive moral development (CMD) in which their senior decision makers operate since ethical decision is largely dependent upon the level of cognitive moral development of the decision makers.
Deciding on what is morally right can lead to a number of decisions to choose. These would be further refined by Moderators and Navigators, which would now generate moral intentions to act. The decision makers at this phase should establish their moral intentions to act on the decision that has the most of affective support and moral commitment from him.
Moral intensity would influence affect (Jones, 1991), which in turn would intensify both cognitive and behavioural responses (Fiske and Taylor, 1984). Thus, the decision maker must find the support of his emotions while deciding on a particular choice. This is further validated by the closeness obtained by these two variables as shown in their factor loadings of 0.544 and 0.534 respectively.
4. The framework suggested through this model can provide immense opportunity for further empirical research. In fact, Loe et al., (2000) has emphasized the need for empirical testing in the area of business ethics. The empirical base of the framework in this model must be tested globally especially since entrepreneurial ethics has been a neglected area in management research (Chau and Siu, 2000).The instrument used for gathering responses requires to be validated on a global perspective. It is believed that the instrument developed and used in this article, having a high internal consistency, can become a very important tool for research in business ethics.
The two new constructs introduced in this model can serve in opening up new vistas for discussion and empirical testing. Especially the moderating and navigating effects of these on every step of decision making calls for extensive research and testing. This can imbibe the much-wanted practical impetus in the normative realms of business ethics.
Implications of Model in Present Ethical Situation
I know that, in present situation the mangers at the company wil look at this ethical dilemma as per their personal opininions and company's ethical frame work. But in order to implement our society friendly policies in to practice, we should adopt the above prented frame work of solving ethical dilemmas. If this ethical conflict will be solved only on the basis of intuition, the effectiveness will not be achieved. The decision can turn out to be an unresolved conflict which can face organizational barriers as well. The above tools present a logical and systematic procedure of solving this ethical issue.
Upon understanding the graveness and significance of this vitamin water problem to diabetic and other health conscious consumers, the sale of this drink can be restricted by printing the catual sugar contents on the bottle. The advertising on mass media should also point out the possible precautions for possible- to - affect consumers. The exclusive contracts with the water distributors and dealers should also contain full product knowledge to guide them in its selling precautions
Also, selling and promoting of Vitamin water to schoolchildren shoud be done through sharing complete product knowledge to parents and school management. The sale through hospitals also need to be done on ethical grounds and complete information should transfer to the hospital mangemet and doctors. The long term solution of tis problem is to develop a product alternative through research and development which has less sugar content with the same benefits as now.