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Solving An Ethical Dilemma Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 3843 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Next, we have identified the problems existed in our case which is the reputation of the employer has been tarnished and the employee was being fired. Therefore, we figured out the source of problems are discrimination and low level of Emotional Intelligence.

We set our learning outcomes that students are able to identify the problem existed and the source, apply theory and strategy critically to analyze situation and lastly, choose an appropriate way to solve problem regarding to the situation.

After that, we have generated few alternatives to solve the problems in the perspective of both employer and employee. For employer, we have suggested two ways which are using contingencies of reinforcement (B.F.Skinner) and improving the perception of employer by Johari Window model. Meanwhile, in the perspective of the employee, they can apply exit-voice-loyalty-neglect (EVLN) model to express their job dissatisfaction.

Then, we have chosen the best alternative which focused on improving the emotional intelligence. For employer, we have selected the strategic to improve the perception of employer toward the employee. While for employee, the voice method has been chosen to solve the problem.

After completed this assignment, we have learnt to apply the knowledge and theories to solve problems according to situation. In additional, there are several moral values that we have learnt such as toleration, commitment, responsibility, caring, empathy, respectability and also punctuality in teamwork.

In short, the learning outcomes have been achieved and all the alternatives that we have chosen are focused on improving the emotional intelligence



In a general sense, ethics is the code or moral principles and value that governs the behaviors of a person or group with respect to what is right or wrong. Besides, ethics can be more clearly understood when compared with behaviors governed by law and by free choice. The area of ethics lies between both of these domains. It has no specific laws, yet it does have standards of conduct based on shared principles and values about moral conduct. Because ethical standards are not codified, disagreements and dilemma about proper behavior often occur. According to Buller et al. (1991, p. 773), “current international law is insufficiently developed to provide much guidance in ethics”. Therefore, the ethical dilemma occurred frequently in our current society.

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Ethical dilemma is a complex situation that will often involve an apparent mental conflict between moral imperatives, in which to obey one would result in transgressing another. An ethical dilemma arises in a situation concerning right or wrong when values are in conflict. Since the time of Plato (427-347AD) people have put some effort to determine what is right or wrong, good or evil, fair or unfair (Hosmer, 1987). Although, different societies have their own interpretations of what is ethical. Possible options for dealing with cross-cultural ethical dilemmas include following the norms of the host country (ethical relativism), following the norms of the home country (moral imperialism) or following core values that are deemed morally “best” (Beauchamp and Bowie, 2001; Donaldson, 1996a).

In our case, the employee has complained his dissatisfaction in his blog due to the employer not allow him to take leave when he was sick. Besides, employer also not giving him a chance to get a higher position in his job because of his appearance. As a result, the employer noticed the existence of the blog and act to fire the employee.

Problem identification

1. The reputation of the employer has been tarnished. The employee spoilt the image of the company by writing something bad about the employer which represents the company in his Weblog.

2. The employee was being fired. Therefore, he will face financial crisis since he lost his source of income.

Source of Problem

From our case, we found out that one of the source of problem is discrimination existed among employer to the employee. Discrimination is defined as when someone acts out their prejudicial attitude towards people who are the target of their prejudice. The district manager has limited his employee a chance of getting a higher position in organization because of his dreadlocks. Besides, the boss also not allowed the employee to take leave when he felt sick. All these actions have made the employee felt angry and dissatisfied with the organization. Therefore, he expressed his bad feeling towards the company by writing a weblog (blog). Although the employee did not use his real name in his blog, he has mentioned his employer’s name. The employer has discovered the blog, figured out the employee’s real name and fired him due to the reputation of the employer was tarnished by his irrational actions. This showed that both of them have low level of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive and express emotion, assimilate emotion in thought, understand and reason with emotion, and regulate emotion in oneself and others. They are not able to control their emotion which attribute to behavior. Actually, there are better solutions for them to solve the problem

Learning outcomes

At the end of the lesson, you should able to:

Identify the problem existed and the source

Apply theory and strategy critically to analyze situation

Choose an appropriate way to solve problem regarding to the situation.

Generate Alternative to Solve the Problem


In the perspective of employer, there are several alternative to solve the problems. They are including contingencies of reinforcement which is one of the theory that introduced by B.F.Skinner , and improving the employer’s perceptions by using Johari Window model.

1. Contingencies of reinforcement

According to Richard L.Daft in New Era of Management(2008) , the contingencies of reinforcement or behavior modification is a combined model that defined reinforcers according to the change in response strength rather than to more subjective criteria, such as what is pleasurable or valuable to someone. The behavior modification identifies four types of consequences, known as contingencies of reinforcement. There are positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment and extinction. The basic assumption underlying behavior modification is the law of effect, which states that behavior that positively reinforced behavior tends to be repeated, and unreinforced or negatively reinforced behavior tends to be inhibited.

Firstly, positive reinforcement happens when the consequence is introduced, given that the frequency of a specific behavior had been increased or maintained. In additional, the boss can concern about the health and safety welfare of the employees by giving them lots of benefits such as providing them the insurance, worker’s compensation, unemployment’s compensation, vacation, fitness centre, and also medical benefits. Furthermore, the manager can also give motivation by encourage the employee’s to maintain and improve their good performance.

Meanwhile, the employer can also apply the negative reinforcement to give motivation to the employer. The negative reinforcement, also known as avoidance learning, is the removal of unpleasant consequences following a desired behavior. In our case, what the most important employer should do is offsetting the employee by allowing his follower to go back home when feel sick in future time. Furthermore, the employer should change his negative perception to positive toward his subordinates.

Instead of giving them reinforcement, the employee can also be punished by employer in order to influence his behavior. In fact, punishment is the imposition of unpleasant outcomes on an employee. It typically occurs following undesirable behavior. This kind of approach can definitely reduce the likelihood of the behavior. For example, the employer can impose the punishment such as scolding or paying compensation if the employee have done the job in incorrect way. However, based on a research by Skarlicki and Folger in1997, it has demonstrated that individuals who perceive that they are unfairly treated by the leaders in the organization often resort to retaliation against the organization. Therefore, it can be concluded that that the punishment can actually cause the disharmony if it has done in unequal way.

Extinction is also one of the approaches to improve the behavior of employee. It can be defined by doing nothing or withdrawal of positive reward. In this scenario, employer can also choose to do nothing on this issue. However, this approach only can be useful if the employee have the ability to motivate himself.

In short, reward and punishment motivational practices can actually motivate the behavior of employees. All these three of approaches can assist the boss in influencing them so that the better performance by employee can be assure of in future time.

2. Strategic to Improve Perception

Based on these approaches, there are 3 strategies to improve the perceptions. There are awareness of perceptual biases, improving self awareness, and also having a meaningful interaction with the employees.

The awareness of perceptual biases plays the most crucial role in upgrading the perception toward the employees. In our case, the employer refused to promote him due to his employee’s dreadlocks and blocking him from going home when he felt sick. The employer can minimize discrimination so that can effectively neutralize the effects of negative perception. Employer should notice his perceptual biases towards his employee as fast as possible. He should remind himself not to prejudge his performance by his appearance. There is no doubt that people don’t always ‘speak their minds’, however, people actually don’t always ‘know their minds’. (Harvard.com) In order to sense the perceptual biases, the employer can undergo a self awareness test called Implicit Association Test (IAT) by Anthony Greenwald, Debbie McGhee and Jordan Schwartz. IAT is an experimental measure within social psychology designed to detect the strength of a person’s automatic association between mental representations of objects (concepts) in memory. (Wikipedia.org) If the employer undergoes this test, he will able to understand more about their implicit attitudes, actions or judgment occur without their awareness. (Harvard. edu)

After the awareness of perceptual biases, the employer must improve self awareness by knowing their values, beliefs and prejudices so that he can treat his employee better. For example, the employer should allow the employee to go home to rest but not letting him to continue his work. Therefore, there is a Johari Window model that can let employer to increase their understanding on how co-workers can increase their mutual understanding. In this model, there are four ‘windows’ that measure the degree of how your own values, beliefs, and experiences are known to you and to others. The employer should increase the size of the open area so that both of the employee and employer are aware of your perceptual limitations.

Besides, the employer ought to have a meaningful interaction with their subordinates in order to achieve a shared goal. The employer should treat the employee with the equal status so that the employee will feel be respected. Furthermore, the employer should emphatic on their employees. He should understand and sensitive to his employee’s feeling, thoughts, and situation of him. For example, the employer can have a social gathering such as having a buffet lunch at Jogoya, vacation in Bali Island and etc to minimize the status differences among them. After a long time period of doing things together, no doubt, both the employer and employee will shared the same values. So to speak, a harmony working environment can be maintained to achieve the same goal. According to a journal known as Perceived Leader Integrity and Ethical Intentions of Subordinates by Dane Peterson, stronger beliefs in universal moral rules will be associated with lower intentions to commit unethical acts involving the organization,co-workers, and the customers.


From the aspect of employee, they can apply exit-voice-loyalty-neglect (EVLN) model to express their job dissatisfaction instead of writing something bad about his boss on his web-blog. EVLN model identifies four ways that employee able respond to dissatisfaction.

One of the ways is exit. Exit is defined as leaving the situation, quitting or transferring himself to another work unit. Exit usually follows specific “shock events”, such as when the boss not allowed the employee to take leave when he was sick. Another “shock events” include the district manager treat him unfairly when refused to promote him because of his appearance. These “shock events” generate strong emotions that energize employee to think about and search for alternative employment. Therefore, the employee can choose to leave the dissatisfying company instead of writing his undesirable feeling on weblog.

Next, the employee can voice his feeling. Voice refers to any attempt to change the situation. Instead of complaining his dissatisfaction on weblog, the employee can give a constructive response such as recommending ways for management to improve the situation, or it can be more confrontational, such as by filling formal grievances in the suggestion box provided by company.

Thirdly, employee can choose to be loyal in company when he was dissatisfied. If the employee is using this method, he will patiently wait for the situation to improve. A loyal employee will remain silent and will not express his dissatisfaction on weblog. Therefore, the employee will not be fired and the reputation of the company will not be tarnished. He acts to suffer in silence so that one day the problem of discrimination will not ever happen in company.

Last but not least, the employee can choose to neglect the situation. It is generally considered a passive activity that has negative consequences for the organization. He will reduce his work effort or quality and increasing absenteeism in order to express his dissatisfaction. Indirectly, this may affect the employee’s job performance.

Choose Alternative to Solve the Problem


From our points of view, we think that the best alternative to solve this problem is improving the perceptions of employers towards the subordinates. There are more advantages in using this approach if compared to applying the “contingency of reinforcement” strategic.

The strategic to improve the perception is involving two way of communication. The employee can provide the feedback to employer. Thus, the meaningful interaction between the employer and employee can actually exist. When the relationship between them is strong, all the problems can be speak out and discuss together. However, the strategic of reinforcement has only one way of communication. This explains the employer push the employee most of the time to improve the performance. In this case, if this approach is applied, it could be say that only the employer has the authority to make decisions on what the employee can do. The employee can only follow what the employer had planned and expected to them.

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Furthermore, there is no doubt that it is easier to change yourself rather than change other. Therefore, we have to know ourselves first before we want to transform the behavior of others. In fact, the Johari Window model is a tool that can increase our awareness to ourselves. By knowing ourselves, the emotional intelligence of employer can be rose up. The boss can control himself so that the work can be done effectively. With the higher of emotional intelligence, the employer has the higher ability to monitor his own and employees’ feeling and emotion to discriminate between them and to use this information to guide their thinking and action. On the other hand, reinforcement strategic can only makes the employer to push the employees to do work without knowing his real behavior.

Last but not least, the harmony of workforce can be maintained and improved if the perception strategic is utilized. The reason why we say so is this strategic is more constructive way to handle this approach. In addition, the employer can use soft skill to coordinate with their subordinates. However, the reinforcement approach could be more confrontational and aggressive. Under this approach, the punishment can damage the reputation of the company. According to a journal called Re-articulating the ethical

corporation: the case of the Woolf Committee Report, damaged reputation can actually lowers competitiveness, profitability, capability to attract highly skilled workers and also influence the economic value in the organization. As a result, people will think negatively such as not regarding the company as a suitable working environment.

In addition, it can be said that the perception strategic is prioritize the feeling of employee than the result achieved by the employee. With this strategic, the company shows more empathy to employees. Therefore, the loyalty of the employee can be build up permanently. However, the reinforcement strategic uses more on the reward and punishment approach to create the motivation among the employees. It cost more heavier effort and money in this approach if compared to another approach. . According to Geoffrey P. Lantos While in his journal, which called as Motivating Moral Corporate Behaviour, there is the statement that claiming that it is crucial to have the social responsible in an organization. While being socially responsible and ethical often entails short-run pain, it usually ultimately results in long-term gain.

As a conclusion, improving the perception of the employer himself is more beneficial than using the reinforcement approach. Subsequently, the employee will avoid doing this kind of action such as complaining the boss on the web-blogs.


In our opinion, we think the best alternative for the employee to respond his dissatisfaction is voice out. Actually, the employee can change the situation by several ways. For example, he can use constructive response by trying to solve problem with management complain or actively helping to improve the situation. In other way round, voice can also be more confrontational such as using suggestion box, face-to-face communication to express grievances. In the extreme, employee might engage in counterproductive behaviors to get attention from the management and force changes in the organization. By using voice method, management can detect the problem faced by the employee and therefore find a best solution to solve this problem. Indirectly, conflicts can be minimized. Employee will get an equal treatment among colleagues in the company and therefore he will be more satisfied. If the employee is using this method, he will not be fired due to speaking ill-will of the company in a public domain. In addition, the reputation of the company also will not be tarnished.

The reason why we do not choose exit, loyal and neglect because we realize that these three ways do not actually solve the root of problem. The management will never know the problem existed in the organization since the employee escaped to face the problem. First of all, if the employee chooses to exit from the company, he may face the same problem in the new workplace. While, the loyal employee has to wait for an unknown period and the situation may or may not improve. Discrimination in organization will become worsen as it involved other employees in a long run. Lastly, employee who chooses to neglect will be still dissatisfied with the unfair treatment in organization. Gradually, he may reduce his workforce, work quality and increase absenteeism. He may even show negative emotion to the customers and this will lead to the dissatisfaction of the customers, too. As a result, this will cause the company sales drop.

In short, we think that voice is still the best solution to solve job dissatisfaction of the employee in organization.

Team Reflection

After done this assignment, we have learnt:

1. Application of knowledge and theories.

2. Using the best strategy to solve problems according to situation.

3. Toleration among team members.

4. Increasing commitment in a teamwork.

5. Responsible to our assigned task.

6. Caring and empathy to our team members.

7. Respect our team members.

8. The importance of punctuality.


First and foremost, we are able to identify the problem specifically. Thus, we can find out the source of problem existed in the organization. In this case, we realized that the sources of problem are discrimination and low level of EI.

Then, we managed to apply theory and strategy critically to analyze situation. Therefore, few alternatives can be generated to solve the problem. Throughout the discussion, we had suggested the reinforcement theory and strategy to improve perception of employer when facing the same problem. In fact, this kind of approach called as a pedagogical approach whereby students develop their own case studies based upon their workplace experiences. The students then discuss how they handled the situation and how they might handle the same dilemma given their experiences since the original event. (Laditka and Houck (2006 Education and training in ethical decision making: comparing context and orientation))

Next, we are able to choose an appropriate way to solve the problem regarding to the situation. We can select the best solution from the generated alternatives. From the case, we found that there are four ways for employee to express his dissatisfaction in the working environment. However, we think that “voice” is the most suitable alternative.

In overall, it can be concluded that all the alternatives that we have chosen either from the perspective of employee or employer is focused on improving the emotional intelligence (EI). In order to sustain an organization in long run’s interest, both the employees and employers need high emotional intelligence to improve their effectiveness. Moreover, the company should be more socially responsible towards his subordinates so that the vision of the organization will be achieved in the short time.


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