Using your case study as an example, discuss to what extent ethics play a part in the success or demise of an organisation. What measures can an organisation take to ensure ethical practice?
Task: Write a report of 2000 words answering the question below. You should base your answer on one of the following case studies:
If you are studying a degree related to Health and Social Care, you should base your report on the Gosport War Memorial Hospital case study.
If you are studying a degree related to Hospitality, Tourism and Events, you should base your report on the Starbucks case study.
If you are studying a degree related to Business or Law, you should base your report on the Volkswagen case study.
Question: Using your case study as an example, discuss to what extent ethics play a part in the success or demise of an organisation.
What measures can an organisation take to ensure ethical practice?
Gosport War Memorial Hospital Case Study In June 2018, the former health minister, Jeremy Hunt, apologised to the families of 456 patients who had lost their lives due to medical malpractice at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in the 1990s. The 456 elderly patients were given opioid drugs which resulted in them losing their lives. The opioids were prescribed by Dr Jane Barton throughout the 1990s. Consultants knew about the practice but did not intervene. Nurses and pharmacists also knew that something was not right, but did as they were instructed to do. In 1991, senior nurses brought the matter to the attention of the Royal College of Nursing but were advised not to take the matter any further. In 2009, Dr Barton was brought before the General Medical Council (GMC) facing disciplinary action. She was found guilty of serious professional misconduct however she was not struck off the register, though she retired soon after. The families of those who died have been fighting for over 20 years to bring the doctor – and those who did not stop her – to justice by facing criminal charges.
Starbucks Case Study In October 2012, Reuters news agency published a special report investigating major tax avoidance by Starbucks in the UK. The investigation was prompted by the company’s practice of telling those who invest in it that the business is profitable, while claiming that they are making losses in their financial reporting to the tax authorities. Since the company opened its first UK branch in 1998, it had earned more than £3 billion in sales of coffee. Yet, during these first 14 years of business, it paid only £8.6 million in taxes. In the three years leading up to the Reuters investigation, Starbucks did not report any profit and therefore paid no income tax on sales amounting to £1.2 billion. In contrast, a company, such as KFC, who achieved similar revenue of £1.1 billion, paid income tax of £36 million. At the same time, transcripts of investor phone calls over 12 years revealed that officials from the corporation regularly referred to their business as “profitable”. Although there has been no suggestion that such practices are illegal, Michael Meacher MP went on the record to declare that the practice “is certainly profoundly against the interests of the countries where they operate and is extremely unfair ... they are trying to play the taxman ... It is disgraceful.”
Volkswagen Case Study In September 2015, the Volkswagen company publicly admitted that almost 600,000 cars made for the US market had been fitted with “defeat devices”, which is used in order to enable the vehicles to pass emissions tests. Soon after this, they announced that the same devices were fitted on some 11 million cars worldwide. The corporation’s Head of U.S. Operations, Michael Horn, went on to sit before a Congressional Committee to claim that the attempt to deceive the regulators was the work of “a couple of software engineers”. However, it soon became clear that this assertion was not the case. The company went on to admit this when it published a “statement of facts” as part of an agreement with the US Department of Justice. This document clarified that Volkswagen’s engineers had difficulty building a diesel engine that was capable of achieving high performance while keeping emissions within regulatory standards. They engineered a mechanism that reduced emissions while testing was occurring, but that allowed emissions far beyond legal limits while driving on roads. The statement made clear that company managers supported the use of this system on various occasions, despite protests from multiple workers.
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