Business Ethics – Essay Example

Kohlbergs model of cognitive moral development claims that “people make different decisions in similar ethical situations because they are in different stages of six cognitive moral development stages” (Ferrell, Fraedrich, Ferrell 162). These six stages can be lumped together into three different levels of ethical concern which affect how people make decisions. The three levels of ethical concern are:
1. Concern with own immediate interests and with external rewards and punishments. At this level, for instance, ethical decisions would be made based upon whether or not the person will get in trouble for acting unethically.
2. Belief that doing the right thing is the same as doing what most people in society or the organization would do. At this level, ethical decisions would be made based upon how other people would make them.
3. In the final stage, known as “principled”, people make decisions without feeling any external pressure at all. Most research has shown that employees rarely reach this level of ethical concern.
(Ferrell, Fraedrich, Ferrel 163)
Kohlbergs model has an obvious impact on the ethical decision-making process, because peoples decisions will vary depending on what level they occupy. At the lower levels, people are more likely to act out of selfish interests and be unethical. However, as they progress along the stages of moral development, their decision-making process will become more ethical until they are eventually not swayed by the opinions of others.
Ferrell O.C., Fraedrich J., Ferrell J. (2009). Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases. (7th ed.) Mason, OH : South-Western Cengage Learning.