Thursday, November 1, 2012

Should I...Shouldn't I

First I will talk about the decision from a deontology style.  I do want to tie in the decision making model from the previous week.  The first step tells me to identify the facts.  From a deontological perspective, the facts are that my bank needs me to commission an advertising firm for a special project, the best prices are at Large Promotions, and my bank’s public relations firm has a positive working relationship with Large Promotions.   

The next step asks what my ethical values are and how they frame the situation.  There are universal laws that speak to some things be inherently wrong regardless of consequence.  Ethically, it is questionable for me to have been working with my spouse’s company and continue to do so, especially without my department’s foreknowledge, even if they offer the best deal.  Deontological thinkers would agree that actions are ethical to the extent that one would be willing for his choices to become a universal law.  I would not accept the practice of work partnerships between spouses because it creates unfair disadvantages for competitors.  My reputation, along with my spouse’s reputation, is at stake if it is later found out that my spouse owns the advertising firm in question.   

The decision making process continues by looking at the available alternatives.  My options are to contract Large Promotions or go with another advertising firm that may charge higher prices.  Thinking as a deontologist, I would have to disregard the consequence of paying more for advertising if it means making an ethical choice to avoid being accused of nepotism.  I would discuss this with my spouse and explain that I would have to reveal that my spouse owns Large Promotions and while doing that communicate to them that despite my personal relationship with its owner, the company offers great work at the best market price.   Using the deontological perspective, I would have to decide to give the aforementioned information to my team and opt out of the final vote.  If the decision were solely up to me, I would have to not choose my spouses firm and pay more to contract another advertising agency’s services.  

Now I will go through the decision making process as a utilitarianism advocate.  The first step would elicit that same response as the facts have not changed, so I will just to the second step in the process.  What are the ethical issues involved?  The only issue that may arise given the facts of the case is that my department does not know my spouse owns Large Promotions.  I need to be truthful and open with this information.  In utilitarianism we have to consider the consequences.  Holding back this information could put my job at risk from accusations of nepotism or choosing personal gain (because the spouse will benefit financially) over company interests.  

The next step in the process requires me to consider the alternatives.  According to utilitarianism I could choose any alternative that does the greatest good for the number of people.  Choosing to give the account to Large Promotions does the most good for the company, myself, and my spouse.  The company would get the best price allowing them save money on a quality service.  I would benefit my accomplishing my task.  My spouse would benefit financially through the business arrangement.  Because Large Promotions has a positive history working with my bank and offers quality work for the best available price, this is justifiable.  The final step is to make a decision.  I would let them know that the company is owned by my spouse.  My spouse’s company would be the best choice even if they were not the owner.  Following utilitarianism I would decide to work with my spouse's company because everyone – the company, myself, and my spouse, will benefit and no harm is done.  


  1. That is a great point you bring up from a deontological perspective that it is unfair to competition. Outside competition is the lease of many people's problems in business and so many people would say, "That's their problem". From this approach one looks to the ethics and principles involved, which does look out for those who are even the competition.

    I know if I was the outside competition or if something similar happened to a deal I was working on I would feel upset. I would probably talk negatively about them to others and like you said attacks their reputation. I think in PR when we are in the business of building people up it is hard to say or do something that hurts the businesses of those around us.

    I would like to see more business minded people foster this type of ethical tradition approach. I would like to see more people focus on how their actions affect others and what is exactly the moral and right way to act.



  2. I like that you combined decision-making models with philosophical styles. These two complement each other well. You do need to think of harm that could be done to the reputation of your bank, or your husband's company if people believe a conflict of interest exists. You could also argue that the greatest number of people are the customers of your bank who may not agree with the appointment of your spouse's company. Just another element to consider!