How Lack of Distinction Affects Business Decision Making

Business ethics is a widely researched and debated topic in commerce. Nonetheless, ethics is inevitable for a business to thrive. There are numerous incidences of businesses collapsing as a result of negative public image following unethical practices. Medici Bank collapsed in 1494 after running bankrupt due to the extravagant behavior of the Medici family. Mississippi Company collapsed in 1720 as a result of speculative bubble. Until today, firms suffer their own unethical fate.

One of the factors that impede ethical decision making is lack of distinction. The failure to draw distinctions may prevent people from differentiating what is right or wrong. Distinction errors also make people to choose lesser-of-two-evils, which end up in unethical behavior. In my professional and personal life, I have experienced incidences of faulty ethical judgment caused by imprecise and euphemistic language.

In the workplace, for example, people sometimes choose to make up a lie for delaying a project or being late to work to avoid negative consequences; but the effect of lying is not less detrimental. Sometimes things may not go as planned, and the employee oversleeps and arrives at work late. To avoid confrontations with the line manager, the employee makes up a false statement that he or she was attending to a seriously ill relative.

The employee could be forgiven at that time, but when the supervisor later learns about the deception, the consequences could be more burdensome than they could have been if the employee had said the truth. According to Howard, Korver and Birchard (2014), people’s choice of words is the basic building block of their thinking. Thus, the employee should make a clear distinction between what he wants to say and what he ought to say, and analyze the ethical consequences of each, leading to ethical decision making.

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