The article was posted on Harvard Business Review on April 19, 2010. The article’s focus is business ethics and its actual application. In the article, the news regarding the Upper Branch Mine tragedy was discussed. Dean Roger Martin identified two reasons why disasters happen. He mentioned that disasters can happen for two reasons – error or cover up of error. He discussed the differences between these two trends. He further documented the reason for the reason for the Upper Branch Mine tragedy.
In the business article, “Regulators: Correct the Error or the Cover-up” (Harvard Business Review. April 19, 2010. Harvard Business School Publishing), he wrote that the reason for the tragedy was cover up of error. He suspects that it was impossible to be an error because lots of people including the regulators of the mining site was aware of the unsafe build up of methane and coal dust in the site. The regulators obviously did that to avoid punishments. The regulators knew it was risky to continue the mining operations because of safety violations but they covered it up. They passed on all the hazards to the miners.
An essential learning that the article wants to impart is that regulator-miner relationship and any other types of working relationship is not just simply based on a operational level. It is a partnership between two people who must be more than willing to help to contribute to each other’s progress. This is a realization for all the people involved in business. The disaster teaches us that in business, ethics is not just simply a word that one reads and comprehends. One must take it seriously and must apply it seriously in order to establish a safe and harmonious working relationship with the people in the working environment.
The authorities now consider imposing more rules so that there would be greater punishments to all those violating business ethics. In this way, each person who is directly in the business would be more vigilant. The action taken by the authorities in the Upper Branch Mine Disaster in West Virginia was no less than inadequate. Imposing grave rules would guarantee that another disaster would occur. This action encourages cover-ups of errors rather than reducing error. Since the rules are more austere, the punishments would be greater. Of course, regulators would not want to be punished, so they would opt to cover up their error to avoid punishment.
In order for us to understand it further, the conflict between principle and profit must be considered. A lot of regulators would choose profit over principle. Greedy regulators would sacrifice the safety of their workers for their profit. They cannot afford to lose a big part of their profit. They would break rules and ethics in order to gain more profit. This is a violation of business ethics.
An unethical act is motivated by greed. Business is a domicile of greed. Almost all people in business are motivated by money. As long as money is present, the temptation for extreme financial gain is also present. However, greed is connected to human weakness.
In business, principle becomes an exchange for profit. Ethics is a big consideration in business. Technically, ethics is a set of moral values. In business, ethics consists of core values that are useful for the success of a business. These core values are simply personal values that a person should maintain so that he can establish ethical principles. Integrity is very important in a business. Ethics is highly practiced if a person has integrity. Regulators, who have integrity, have strong and stable business. Integrity poses a good character not just for oneself but also for the business. Secondly, honesty is the most common and most practical ethical principle. An honest person is less likely to be involved in any cover-ups of errors. He is more likely to be an asset rather than a liability. Ethical choices always start with honesty.
A person can be filthy rich without being unethical. A person must have a strong philosophy in business. He must have a strong foundation of ethical principles and must able to apply it in actual business situations. Consequently, ethical decisions must be supported by needs and not wants. Ethical people have a balance between needs and wants. Wants drive a person to desire for more. This desire forces a person to do anything in order to obtain his wants.
The human desire for financial security becomes stronger as soon as he becomes involved in business. The success of any business does not just depend on the regulators but also to the workers. The workers contribute a lot to the progress of a business. They are the ones whose lives are put into danger. All workers are wise. They have a wide range of resources and professional skills. As mentioned earlier, ethics establishes a good working environment. It is beneficial if the worker and the regulator pursues a outside-work relationship. In this way, each person is assured of being less prone to error because they are less likely to be greedy.
Principle and profit should not be in conflict. One does not have to choose between principle and profit. One just needs to maintain stable and strong ethical principles so that he can avoid all greedy pleasures. Great importance should be given to business ethics because it is necessary to establish a clean and harmonious working relationship with the people in the working environment.
In the business article, ethics is a major concern. The regulator lack respect to the miners. They were very unethical to consider profit over the safety of the miners. More importantly, they chose to cover up their error in order to abstain from any punishment that their own failure may bring. The success of any business does not lie on money but on dignity and ethical principles.
Source of Article:
Martin, R.L. (2010). Regulators: Correct the Error or the Cover-up. Harvard Business Review (April 19, 2010). Harvard Business School Publishing. Retrieved May 29, 2010 from the Business Week website http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/apr2010/ca20100420_479716.htm