Business Ethics: Whistleblowing
Please explain the different kinds of whistleblowing. Provide at least one argument for why whistleblowing is morally permissible, and not morally permissible. Please explain under what circumstances is whistleblowing is not only morally permissible but also, morally required.
Whistleblowing can be defined as the activity of the individuals (or in the contemporary paradigm the legal entities or other organizations) who deliver the facts of the poor performance of the state authorities or private entities to the public domain. The objectives and the motivating factors of this behavior are different. Some whistleblowers are driven by the resolution to call the public perception and to generate specific outcome. Another group of whistleblowers is targeting the state and private agencies with the intent to glorify themselves and attain public recognition (Steger, 112). The majority of the contemporary jurisdictions may recognize that the fact of whistleblowing, perpetrated by a specific individual, constitutes a crime or a civil misdeed. In this case, the people who committed such acts can face justice before the court of law and respective legal remedies are extensively applied either to vindicate or to condemn them.
Various scholars and public policy analysts do provide various classifications of whistleblowers. The most common division is the classification into external whistleblowers, i.e. the one who delivers specific message about poor professional conduct and ethical violation to the general public domain, or to be more exact to the entire society. Internal whistleblowers are the people who deliver such messages to the specific targeted audience, e.g. to the workmates of a definite public organization or a state agency.
The second popular classification is the division of whistleblowers into public and private groups. The criterion of such division lies in the targeted objective of whistleblowing. The ones, who condemn, criticize or merely divulge information relating to the activity of the public agencies, are classified as public-oriented whistleblowers; but the ones who target private institutions are universally deemed as private-based whistleblowers.
Apart from legal classification of such deeds, the important aspect is the moral aspect (Lai, 98). The scholars and the practitioners of the criminal law and procedure have been long puzzled with the determination on whether such actions shall be considered morally permissible or not. The investigation of this fact is of paramount theoretical and practical importance. Theoretically, it helps to amplify and research the concept of morality that is one of the most fundamental postulates of psychology. Practically, this issue is important due to the fact that it helps to find out whether a singularly researched deed shall be considered as a crime or not.
In accordance with the opinion of the academics, supported by the practice of the United States Supreme Court and similar judiciary institutions of the United Kingdom and other countries with the Common Law legal system share the opinion that the roots of morality shall be found in the motives that drive the person to commit such act. To be more exact, when a person tries to bring well-fare to the public (in order to prevent war, to cease the war or to improve the economic conditions of the specific stratum of the community), such activity is considered morally and ethically admissible. To illustrate the fact of divulgence of the important military documentation to the prospective enemy or international peacekeeping organization with the intent to prevent the imminent hostile armed actions is to be considered as morally acceptable, while similar activity provoked by the monetary remuneration is to be classified as a crime.
Generally, the acts of whistleblowing which incentive is far from public benefit are considered as those, which violate the commonly accepted standards of public morality. The factors that drive the person in question may be drastically different, ranging from money to personal glorification.
The aforementioned rule for classification between morally acceptable and non-acceptable whistleblowing are applicable both for the business institutions and the public ones. The practice indicates that business is more connected to such issues, since the questions of corporate fraud and theft shall be always viewed in the light of whistleblowing applicable regulations.
Please explain what the four types of property are. What is the difference between a copyright and a patent? In what sense are computer programs to be understood: as a patent or as a copyrightable property? What is the difference between the two? Who is the legal owner of a program written at work computer during work hours, and yet was used only for the creator’s database tasks, and not for company wide use.
Contemporary and classical scholars of the Common and Continental law systems recognize several major types of property. The most common classification involves the division into tangible and non-tangible property (Dowd, 171). Among the tangible property it is traditional to classify real estate and personal property (or the classification into the movable and non-movable property that is more typical for the continental legal family). The paradigm of non-tangible property deals primarily with the issues linked to intellectual property that can be very generally classified into trademarks, patents and copyright. While in the past, tangible property occupied the dominant positions in the national and international legal arenas, the advent of the millennium era in general and the technological revolution in particular conditioned the frontline positions of the intellectual property.
The biggest areas of the intellectual property are the copyrights and the patents. The practice and the theory dictate the need to draw differences between them. In legal parlance, a patent protects the rights of an inventor against unlicensed copying of his invention. Subject matter in this case is essential, i.e. the object is to be feasible in its nature; although, this assumption is vigorously challenged by the progressive school. The second benchmark is the fact that the invention shall exercise a practical function, i.e. it should produce a positive result for the one who operates.
Copyright protects the rights of the author of a particular work for a limited period of time. The most important factor in this paradigm is the presence of the idea, not necessarily physical in its nature (Hahn, 148). The idea is not producing any positive outcome, but its application in combination with other elements of the business cycle can do so.
As far as software development process is concerned, this area is globally considered as the most controversial and neither academic nor practical consistency has been attained in so far. However, the practice indicates that the subject matter of the computer program is the key point that defines whether it is patentable or it shall be governed by the applicable copyright law (Hahn, 245). Once the developed software application do contain a brand-new technology that has not been in the public domain in so far, it shall be considered as patentable, since no one has ever done it before. Although, this approach contradicts one of the most fundamental postulates of patent law (i.e. the rule that some physically tangible substance is to be necessarily present) the most progressive scholars stipulate that this approach is outdated and the criterions of patentability are to be altered. On the other hand, if a software application capable of effective data processing is really new, but its core is based on the application of traditional algorithms, it is subjected to the copyright legislation.
Considering the situation when a particular software application was created during working hours, but the program was not used for the purposes of this enterprise, the legal practice indicates that nevertheless the copyrights can be owned by the enterprise, irrespective the fact that this application was used for the individual needs of the creator. Moreover, the roots of the problem lie in the contract law. The majority of the leading international IT companies stipulate a special clause in their employment agreements that impose the ownership rights to the company, or the application is considered as a joint ownership. If such clause is not included into the agreement, the law clearly specifies that the object is to be considered as property of the company, even if it was utilized by its creator for his or her private purposes.
Provide an argument for why there is an unfair competition of Multinational Corporations (MNC) versus local firms in Less Developed Countries (LDC’s). Do MNC’s exploit LDC’s? Provide an argument for and against this view. According to De George, what are the Ethical Guidelines for Multinational Operations? Do you think, then, that there can be an ethical globalization?
Nowadays, the globalization of the international business has engendered the presence of the multiple multinational companies, who operate not exclusively internationally, but on the domestic markets of the developing markets as well (Moore & Lewis, 111). The hottest debate between the academics and the practitioners is whether the activity of the multinational corporations is fully ethically consistent relating to the competition with the small and medium scale firms in the developing countries.
The majority of the scholars advocate the opinion that international companies have an extensive and abundant arsenal of the financial and non-financial instruments to have a permanent competitive advantage over the local companies. Moreover, such entities can fully rely on the accumulated international experience to supplant the domestic business units from the market totally. The use of this resource is often cited as totally unethical, since the competitors do not have similar instruments and cannot utilize international experience with the same efficiency (Steger, 32). The practice shows that often multinational companies do hire domestic companies as subcontractors and pay them the amounts that can hardly be classified as markedly consistent. The use of global resources and the ability to relocate them when required from overseas, as well as international experience and expertise have imposed their sway over the small and medium scale nationally operating business units.
On the other hand, not a single contemporary ethical provision provides a rule that the use of overseas resources and experience is ethically inconsistent. The managers of the international companies often refer to this statement, when the need to acquit their exploitative activity arises. Nowadays, the practice of subcontracting is common, popular and legally admissible in the majority of jurisdictions. Definitely, the need of reformation exists, but it is not supported by the scholarly experience and by the philosophical endeavors as well, since no single theory has been elaborated yet.
The ethical paradigm of a typical multinational company contains numerous issues to be addressed, ranging from environmental issues to employment peculiarities. In the context of this question, the ambivalent unfair competition issues are to be raised. However, before the issue is further amplified, it is relevant to stress that the methods of competition greatly vary across different countries. While in one country trade denigration is common practice, for another country tortious interference remains the main message of unfair competition embraced by the operating multinational companies.
As far as the idea of the universal application of the Ethical Guidelines for Multinational
Corporations in the light of ethical globalization are concerned, it seems relevant to stress that nowadays this idea can hardly be implemented (De George, 132). The reasons for failure are to be sought in the roots of the international cultural paradigm. To be more exact, various ethical and cultural standards have taken roots in different countries, and the practice that is ethically and legally permissible in one country can be totally unacceptable in another one. The factors of influence include religious, cultural, and traditional ones. Until all those determinants are brought into uniformity, the practical realization of this concept remains totally unfeasible.
However, practically, they can be uniformed only on the condition that the cultures of the individual countries are unified, in accordance with the theory of globalization. But on the other hand, contemporary practice indicates that while the process of globalization is intense, the national governments of the civilized and most importantly the developing nations are adopting the legislation that is aimed to safeguard the national identity and national cultural values of those countries. Hereby, it is highly improbable that these Ethical Guidelines will be universally applicable and popular.