Section 1 My Learning Journey… in COMM101: Principles of Responsible Commerce Initially, before I learn this course, I have always thought that a “responsible commerce” is only important to balance the economic cycle. In my initial essay regarding “responsible commerce”, I mentioned about child labor being one of the biggest issue of irresponsible commerce, I thought the reason of it being such a big issue was because it would affect the whole economical cycle.
And I did not realize that responsible commerce would involve different kinds of principles of ethics and elements in business, Through this subject I have learned that ethical principles and standards in business define acceptable conduct in businesses which underpin how management makes decisions. Business ethics reflects the philosophy of business, one of whose aims is to determine the fundamental purposes of a company. However, behaving ethically is not quite the same thing as behaving lawfully, because ethics are about what is right and what is wrong; while law is about what is lawful and what is unlawful.
What is unethical does not mean it is unlawful, for example, if a driver sees a car crash while he was driving, ethically, he should have stopped his car to see if there is any help that he could provide to the victim, but, still, it does not violate the law if he does not stop to help. It is the same in business. It would be ethical to take up partial responsibility to take care of the unfortunate after earning so much profit from the people; but not taking up the responsibility does not cause them to violate the law either.
Another thing that I have learned about ethics is that there are different principles to define what is right or wrong. I would consider myself as a utilitarian because I have always thought that whether a matter is right or wrong depends on its consequence. If a person tells a lie, so that he would not hurt somebody’s feelings, he is ethically right. However, Kant’s theory is in contrast with utilitarianism. Kant’s theory judges a matter regardless of whether the consequence is good or bad, the action, for instance, lying is wrong, and then it is ethically wrong.
In the commercial world, Kant’s theory gives organizations firm rules to follow in moral decision-makings. To Kantians, “morality must be based on the categorical imperative because morality is such that you are commanded by it, and is such that you cannot opt out of it or claim that it does not apply to you. ” (California State University) Corporations use Kant’s categorical imperatives to command unconditionally on what is right for their employees to do and what is wrong to do.
Kant’s theory had also taught me “humanity as an end, never as merely a means”, which means a person has his own inner worth and shall not be used by anyone for his or her benefits. (Shaw et. al. , 2009) But in my opinion, this principle is fairly difficult to obey because, in reality, everyone is using each other as a means to benefit himself in order to survive. For example, at a private college, a lecturer is hired to teach students who have paid tuition fees to the college. The college is using the lecturer as a means to generate income.
On the other hand, lecturer is also using the college as a means to generate income for himself when he receives salary after teaching the students. This example has taught me that the application of ethical theories is not constant and evolves from time to time. Like corporate responsibilities, they, too, evolve from time to time. In 1962, Milton Friedman argued that ‘there is only one responsibility of business, which is to use its resources and engage in profitable activities as long as it stays within the rules of the game’.
He emphasized that when a business is increasing profits, it is being socially responsible and it is believed to be an “invisible hand” to create more employment opportunities, new goods and services for customers, profits for shareholders, and economic growth. Nonetheless, according to Friedman, business managers who maximize profits are also acting moral responsibility because they have an obligation as employees to serve their employers bona fide in the best interest of the company.
However, in 2010, a professor at Melbourne Business School, Doctor Geoff Lewis, claimed that Friedman’s view was outdated because the argument was set in the mid-nineties to preach against socialism. Lewis argued that in the twenty-first century, where most economy has been capitalized, it is not enough for a business to be solely responsible for increasing its profits. Lewis says that ‘forty years ago social responsibility may have been seen as an act of, as Friedman described it, “hypocritical window dressing” – but in today’s world we think in terms of sustainability and of business playing a central role in our market-driven society’.
In addition, Niall FitzGerald (2010) also opposes with Friedman’s statement where being socially responsible is against the company’s best interest as it imposes costs on the shareholders, because being socially responsible does not conflict the profitability of a business. A major part of the commercial world today has already been capitalized so that corporations could enjoy free competition with each other, while consumers would have better choices of products. I believe that is what every one of us would think of.
However, through learning COMM101, I have realized that capitalism is good, but a market shall not be over capitalized. Capitalism centered upon individual self-interest and competitiveness. (Shaw et. al. , 2009) Competition without regulations in the marketplace would lead to alienation of the weaker competitors in the market and, hence, breeds oligopolies in the market. This would not be a good thing to happen in the poorer countries, where the local corporations may not be as strong as the foreign ones, and would most probably be isolated by the consumers, while the local market might be taken over by the foreign investors.
In order to protect these local corporations, this is when the government should regulate the market by adding certain principles of socialism to encourage co-cooperativeness between foreign and local corporations. Another topic that I have learned in this course is globalization. Globalization has been promoted all around the world. Usually, globalization is seen as an irresistible and benign force for delivering economic prosperity to people throughout the world, the rich foreign investors and traders and people in poor countries. However, it is also blamed as a source of all contemporary ills. International Labour Organisation) I have always thought that globalization only affects individuals in the commercial world. However, the phenomenon of globalization brings an impact to the world not only in economics but also the culture and social welfare of the countries. At many times, people like me tend to be more concerned about the economic and political impacts of the globalization and overlooked its impact on cultural and social welfare. Some feel globalization entails a deterioration of moral standards; a decline of religious scruples; a cultural breakdown. Kilgour, 2000) No doubt what concerns us the most is the “cultural homogenization” that globalization could generate, challenging our community and our unique identity, culture and traditions. Some even feel that globalization will turn people into spiritless robots. (Kilgour, 2000) But the fact is spiritual activities and experiences are deeply personal, it is difficult to see how globalization would influence them one way or another. (Kilgour, 2000) Overall, my journey of learning this subject has been quite fruitful. It has helped me to learn the world better.
I have also learned about what kind of ethics principles to use in order to regulate one’s morality in the commercial world, and it has helped me to develop a better mindset. Section 2 Case Study Lara Stone’s Calvin Klein Jeans ad banned in Australia for being ‘Suggestive of Violence and Rape’ During this semester, while I was doing my assignment for another course, I have come across this case that had attracted negative media attention. This case is about a Calvin Klein Jeans advertising campaign for its Fall 2010 Collection, starring supermodel–Lara Stone, posing with three male models in the controversial image.
Not only the image was being criticized that it was demeaning to women, the advertising campaign had been banned in Australia after the country’s Advertising Standards Bureau decided that it was ‘suggestive of violence and rape’. (Abraham, 2010) Advertising is an important social phenomenon. Not only has it stimulated consumption, economic activity models, life-styles and a certain value orientation; Advertising acts as a mean for companies to achieve business objectives to sell goods or services. It provides a medium to deliver information to consumers, in a way that would maximize the effectiveness of the message.
Once the advertising message has been delivered to the consumers, it is up to the individuals to interpret the message, based upon previous experiences and pre-existing beliefs that differ vastly between cultures. Nonetheless, advertising also mirrors the society, because elements in effective advertisements combine with the individual cultures and societies. (Next Step Marketing, 2012) The Calvin Klein Jeans case caught my attention because of its abuse of the element of sexuality in their ad campaign which caused objections from the audience.
Tom Reichert, professor and head of the department of advertising and public relations in the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication claimed that advertisers use sex to promote the products because it can be very effective, because it attracts attention and people are hard wired to notice sexually relevant information. (Sorrow, 2012) Reichert said this upward trend in erotic ads is a reflection of society. Today, it takes more explicitness to grab our attention and arouse us than before. Back in the early 1900s, exposed arms and ankles of female models generated the same level of arousal as partially nude models do today. Sorrow, 2012) In Kant’s theory, using women, as sex objects in advertisements to directly appeal to person’s emotional core, the advertisement taps into the primal desire of human beings to have children. It bypasses the moral constraints, which the society has ingrained into its members, mirrored as one of Kant’s categorical imperatives, that prohibits using people, in this case women, as a means to achieve an end. It is these two internal opposing forces that trouble people when they are confronted with such advertisement.
In reality, the women in such advertisements are most probably treated fairly and not exploited, but the internal battle between our basic instincts and moral intuitions do not consider this. We struggle with the primal sexual desire, against our moral intuitions that we should treat women as human beings with equality of rights rather than viewing them as objects to satisfy some internal, primal lust. In the Calvin Klein Jeans advertisement, it is represented by the four men having the power to sexually manipulate the woman; while it is not true in reality.
In society, this would represent a regression in the form of moral degradation if women are not treated with equality and are unfairly taken advantage of. The concept of the Calvin Klein Jeans advertising campaign have also gone against the Rawl’s Justice of Fairness, in which women, who were unfairly treated in the past, be given more compensation in society now. The act of portraying women as sex objects is an uncivilized act, and it harkens back to a time where social liberties and rights were not as developed as they are today.
Nonetheless, the use of sex in advertising can also negatively affect children. It was discovered that children watch more than thirteen-hundred hours of television annually, which resulted in exposure to more than twenty-thousand of commercials. ” When advertisers use sex in their ads as a technique to increase sales, it can become misleading to children that sex is associated with products, while sexual activities can be exposed to public, instead of sex with love, which is a very personal matter that should be kept behind the door.
The use of sexuality may indirectly cause to increase sexual activity among the young, which would lead to more unwanted pregnancies, more STDs and more children with self-esteem issues over body images. (Centrella, et. Al. ) References 1. Abraham, Mail Online, Lara Stone’s Calvin Klein Jeans ad banned in Australia for being ‘suggestive of violence and rape’ (2010), ;http://www. dailymail. co. uk/femail/article-1322815/Lara-Stone-Calvin-Klein-Jeans-ad-banned-Australia-suggestive-rape. html? printingPage=true;, viewed 20 September 2012 2. California State University, Kantian Ethics lt;http://www. csus. edu/indiv/g/gaskilld/ethics/Kantian%20Ethics. htm; , viewed 27 October 2012 3. Centralla et al. , Are governments doing enough to prevent the global expansion of the sex industry? ;http://www. feministezine. com/feminist/international/Globalization-Sex-and-Profits. html; viewed 26 October 2012 4. FitzGerald KBE and Cormack, The Role of Business: An Agenda for Action (2010) ;http://www. hks. harvard. edu/m-rcbg/CSRI/publications/report_12_CGI%20Role%20of%20Business%20in%20Society%20Report%20FINAL%2010-03-06. df; viewed 20 September 2012 5. Kilgour, Spiritual and Ethical Impacts of Globalisation (2000), ;http://www. david-kilgour. com/secstate/spiritglobe. htm; viewed 23 October 2012 6. Lewis, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Profits (2010) ;http://www. mbs. edu/go/centres-of-excellence/2010-debate/asia-pacific-centre-for-leadership-for-social-impact/news-and-links/net-impact/the-social-responsibility-of-business-is-to-increase-profits; viewed 20 September 2012 7.
Next Step Marketing, Does Advertising shape society, or merely mirror societal trends? http://www. nextstepmarketing. com. au/articles/advertising/does-advertising-shape-or-mirror-society/ viewed 20 October 2012 8. Shaw, et al. , Moral Issues in Business, 1st Edition (Cengage Learning Australia Pty Ltd, 2009) 9. Sorrow, Magazine trends study finds increase in advertisements using sex (2012) ;http://news. uga. edu/releases/article/magazine-trends-study-finds-increase-in-advertisements-using-sex/; viewed 28 October 2012
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