Ethics Dilemma Use Potter Box
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The Ethical Dilemma Situation Mr. George is a Public Relations Practitioners in X Biscuit Factory. X Factory actually produced various types of Cream Cracker Biscuits in market. Unfortunately, the Cream that used by X Factory had certain ingredients that include the unhealthy ingredient such as Melamine. After a period of time, the factory started receiving customers who complaining that they feel uncomfortable and have side effect after ate the Biscuits that produced by the company. The Managing Director of the Factory wanted George to tell their customers that their Biscuits are safe to eat and the ingredients of the biscuits are healthy. Unfortunately, George facing an ethical dilemma: Should he follow his Managing Director Instruction by cover up the truth of the story, or should he tell the truth to the customers? The interviewee Details: Name: Mr. George Contact no: 016 - 9187175
Introduction As a media profession, they will face an ethical issue in their working field. The ability to explain and make ethical choices is important for them. Ethics has come to the mean learning to make rational choices between what is good and bad, what are morally justifiable action and what is the other way to settle it. Philosophers have tried to draft a series of rules or guidelines governing how to make ethical choices. A decision making model that allows professions to make ethical choices systematically and help them what to do among conflicting voices. Literature Review There have various points of views fro Scholar. According to May (1996, p.2), she argued that the moral concepts need to be understood as embedded in social structures and processes such as socialization, solidarity, and collective consciousness. She hopes to show how social and organizational worlds enable or constrain professionals’ sense of integrity and social responsibility. Besides, Adler, P (2002, p.148) suggested that professionals ought to understand their social responsibility as a “fiduciary duty”. This means that “those who have voluntarily placed themselves in positions of trust concerning the interests of others must give careful consideration to those on interests” (May, 1996). Truth is more than a bonus; it is tangible assets that must be created, sustained, and build upon. (Rest, J, 2004, p.7).
Lavelle & Borrus (2004, p.22) has proposed a four component model of psychological elements that must be in place for people to behave ethically: 1) Moral sensitivity—awareness of possible lines of action, and how our actions might affect other people 2) Moral judgment--- the ability to use moral reasoning to determine what behaviors are morally justifiable 3) Moral motivation—the desire to prioritize moral values over competing values 4) Moral character—having the courage to do the right thing, despite the costs and
difficulties in doing so The four components actually describe the details for the people must have the ethical moral values to interact with people around.
Decision Making – Potter Box The Potter Box is created by Harvard philosopher, Ralph Potter. Potter Box is a decision making model that allows professions to make ethical systematically. Generally, it is always used by communication professional. The Potter Box can be used by anyone when facing an ethical dilemma too. According to Guth and Marsh (2003), he elaborated on the concept of the four dimensions of the Potter Box and provides clear definition to the action steps. The
authors’ clearly defined eight-step process, aided by the Potter Box model, is presented in a summarized form. In short, the concepts of 4 dimensions are definition, values, principle, loyalties and construct action steps.
Particular Judgment or policy
Logical Both Positive and Negative
Appeal to Ethical Principle Virtue, duty, utility, rights, love
Table 1: The Diagram of the 4 Dimensions of Potter Box
The Application of Potter Box in Ethical Dilemma The first step on applying the potter box is to define the situation. In this case, the situation was: A Public Relations who work in X Biscuits Factory. The cream has mixed with Melamine and cause customers feel uncomfortable after eating it. The managing
director asked PR practitioner to lie to public that the ingredients of the biscuits are healthy and safety to eat. The next step is to identify the applicable values. As a PR Practitioner, Mr. George has to consider few factors before make a final decision. As a PR, He has to be honest and sincere to the public. He has a duty to tell the truth and reveal the information to the FDA that the biscuits have been mixed with Melamine which will cause people afflicted with kidney stone or nephropathy. Unfortunately, this action may cause financial loss in billions and lost of trustworthy in public. On the other hand, by telling the truth to FDA about the incident will likely to prevent future consumers from suffering the negative side effects of the taking biscuits. The third step in the Potter Box model is to link the ethical principle with its associated applicable value. There are 3 theories that linked to the ethical philosophies, which included utilitarianism, Categorical Imperative and Natural Law. PR practitioners should be honest to reveal and report to public as well as FDA is categorical imperative and also to prevent consumers from suffering the negative side effects of the taking biscuits. The 4th step is to identify the principle of loyalties. This is related to the parties that PR practitioner ultimately loyal to. PR practitioners should be honest to the society. The reason why Mr. George should tell the truth to public it is because melamine cannot used in food industry which can cause kidney failure. Melamine will remains inside the kidney and forms into stones blocking the tubes. And they might face the bladder problems. The serious problem that may cause is kidney will not function properly and harm their health.
Finally, in step 5 of the Potter Box, the final ethical decision must be made by the PR practitioner. This decision must be justified, based on the previous steps. If PR practitioners able to make a justified decision at this point PR practitioner can reach a conclusion. Mr. George should suggest his Managing Director to recall all the Biscuit products and make a public apologize to all the consumers. For those who get affected after taken the product, the Company would give the compensation to them.
The application Of Theories Utilitarianism Base on the Ethical Dilemma Situation, Utilitarianism Theory stated that Mr. George should tell the truth to the customers, because George action can bring the happiness to majority people, who are the whole society. Utilitarian ethical theory is founded on the ability to predict the consequences of an action (Ridley Aaron, 1998). To a utilitarian, the choice that yields the greatest benefit to the most people is the choice that is ethically correct. George action is considered as right thing because he brings about the best outcome in the overall situation, or for the greatest number of people. Furthermore, George prefers the highest good should refer to the quality, but not the quantity. People should attempt to promote the greatest good for the greatest number of people (Louis Elvin Day, 2006). This means that the George should realize that if he tells the truth to public, the public will get concern to this current issue and do not eat this biscuits. This will save the public to involve in the side effect after eating the biscuits. As a result, the majority people do not get harm because of the disease after eating their company biscuits.
A utilitarian ethic based on the majoritarian principle will have to concede that there will be cases where people are made happier by giving them less freedom rather than more (Ryan, A.1974, p.131). The ultimate goal is the same as its predecessor but quality of happiness is the same important. This means that the goal of the action of George is important to the customers because the whole society actually involves in this case and the truth of the story can reduce their harm, which is the disease. Categorical Imperative On the Kant perspective, George need to tell the truth to the customers because due to human have duty to do the right thing. As a PR Practitioner, George has the duty to be ethical and should not lie to public. If he follow his Managing Director instruction by cover up the truth, this will be breaking his duty as a Professional Public Relations, who are suppose to be sincere and behave ethically wherever in what situation. Besides, Cummiskey (1996) argues in Kant Perspective, human must be respect for the value of Humanity and treating the interests of each as counting for one and one only. people should always acting certain actions to produce the best overall outcome. This means that the action that being done by individual should always have a good will in order to bring a good outcome for us. The good will that mentioned here is important for George to make a suitable decision so that the results of the action taken can bring a satisfied outcome. In this case, George should built up a sincere good will, by tell the customers the actual incident so that can save the customers life (Outcome). To illustrate this point in a clear way, Kant justifies it through the Universability Test by explaining how people can justify the good will. First of all, George should put in
the maxim by thinking: As a PR Practitioner, if I lied to the public and cover up the truth of the story to the public. Then, I assume that the whole world PR in every organization is lying to the public and does it cause lots of problem. In this case, George can be able to justify that if the whole world people lying to others, it will cause lots of serious problems occurred, such as lots of customers will die and at last the Organization also will deal with the Crisis of killing other people life. The Natural Law According to Aristotle, men look not at the greatness of the evil past, but the greatness of the good to follow. This means that as a human being, we have the instinct to do the good thing in stead of doing bad things. We been trained to be a good person since young. Besides law, everyone of us do have our own principles to follow. In natural law,it stated that,we have to respect people as well. Mr George have the right to do what he felt is good to do,he cannot run away from his conscience. Because in naturally he has the responssible to tell the truth to the public. Certainly, he also have the principles to follow because he respect other people have the right to keep surviving in this earth. Besides, Mr George need to put himself in other shoes. Mr George have to put himself as one of the victim who suffer from disease after taking the biscuits. If he as a Victim,definitely he also want an explanation from the company so that he can know whats really happening. Of course, if something bad happen in his health, George will need the compansation or maybe need the on behalf of the company to console him as
well. This is actually to show that the company really appreciate the consumers and concern about what is happening.
IPRM Code Of Ethics According to IPRM, Public Relations Practitioner shall not create or make use of any organisation purporting to serve some announced cause but actually promoting a special or private interest of a member of his client or his employer which is not apperant. George should not be bias to support his company and ignore the public. Therefore, he should explore the truth to public. In order to create the awareness to public, they will be able to escape the risk. Besides, , Public Relations Practitioner shall not intentionally disseminate false or misleading information, and shall use proper care to avoid doing so. He has a positive duty to maintain truth, accuracy and good taste. This means that as a professional Public Relation, George has the duty to identify the misleading information and find out a good solution to overcome it to avoid spread out the false information to public.
Conclusion In the nutshell, Mr. George should suggest his Managing Director to recall all the Biscuit products and make a public apologize to all the consumers. For those who get affected after taken the product, the Company would give the compensation to them. This is the win win situation that Mr. George can do to protect the reputation of the company and to avoid more people get affected by the disease. This is the best solution to settle the case to protect the image of the company. On the other hand, it also can protect other people rights to survive. With this rational action taken, it can create trustworthy within the consumers towards the organization. This is a professional way to overcome this issue before it turns in to a Crisis. If the company can consider about the ethical and rational decision making, every members of the society can live in a healthy life.
References Adler, P. S. (2002). Corporate scandals: It’s time for reflection in business schools. Academy of Management Executive, 16, 148-149. Guth, D. W., & Marsh, C. (2000). Public relations: A values-driven approach. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Larry, M. (1996). The socially responsive self. Socially theory and professional ethics. Retrieved November 27, 2006, From http://books.google.com/books?id=ZVFpyuVhNEC&pg=PA2&lpg=PA2&dq=May +%281996%29+argue+that+our+moral+concepts+%E2%80%9Cneed+to+be+unde rstood+as+embedded+in+social+structures+and+processes+such+as+socialization, +solidarity,+and+collective+consciousness%E2%80%9D&source=bl&ots=IfSX8G S696&sig=wKb9nR1E4WaVux5kE3NJG64eGDw&hl=en&ei=htlSvDVOJXs6AO P6KRP&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=&f=false Lavelle, L., & Borrus, A. (2004, January 26). Ethics 101 for CEOs. Business Week, Issue 3867, 88. Rest, J. (1994). Background: theory and research. In J. R. Rest & D. Narvaez (EDS.), Moral development in the professions. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. 11