Apple Inc.’s Ethical Success and Challenges
Explain how Apple’s philosophy and organizational culture have impacted how it handles ethical decisions.
Organizational culture affects the way an organization handles its ethical decisions. Organizational culture incorporates the values, norms, and rituals of the organization (Ferrell et al., 181). The employees at Apple are dedicated and passionate about their work. They believe in their company and they go to great lengths to promote it by telling others about their products. As a company, Apple believes that all employees should act properly in all situations, regardless of their position or status in the company. The company believes that all employees should demonstrate integrity by being honest, respectful, compliant, and maintaining confidentiality. This means incorporating these values in all their operations. The company incorporates these values when making all its ethical decisions.
The company ensures that it complies with the environmental laws by instilling measures such as reducing carbon emissions and recycling. The company offers free transport for all the employees and their buses use biodiesel, which is considered more environmentally friendly because it does not produce a lot of carbon emissions. The company does not use products that contain lead, mercury, or other toxic chemicals. The company ensures that it manufactures its products using recyclable materials. It also encourages consumers to return the products they are not using so that it can recycle them. The company believes in respecting its customers. The employees ensure that they serve the customers immediately. They have different employees who respond to the customers complaints and who make sure they meet the customers’ demands. The company is honest in all its dealings, although they maintain a closed culture of all their operations. This helps them to maintain their privacy and confidentiality, thereby protecting their business.
Why is Apple’s industry so competitive and how could this affect the ethical risk in Apple’s operations?
Apple’s industry is one of the most competitive industries. There is high competition in the technology industries. Apple deals with a wide range of products, all involving technology. It is in various industries such as the computer industry, mobile phones, and music download industries among others. Perhaps the highest competition is in the mobile phone industry, where the company has revolutionized the way people use mobile technology. It has incorporated different technologies in one product. Its mobile phones are able to perform multiple functions, and they resemble a mini computer.
Most of the things that people use today have become automated, and people have changed their lifestyles. Nowadays, people want devices that can simply their life and save them time. They want innovative mobile devices that will enable them to do their work and communicate without restrictions. Many companies have realized this, and they are developing products to meet this need. This has increased the level of competition in the industry. Competition is good for business. It enhances efficiency and productivity, and in most cases, it lowers the prices of the products. When there is high competition in an industry, businesses tend to do all they can to ensure that they retain a large market share.
Intense competition can make some managers desperate, and this makes them see unacceptable business practices as acceptable. They may end up taking action that is questionable just so that they can ensure that their business survives (Ferrell at al. 97). In some cases, managers pressed by intense competition from different competitors in the industry, can establish unrealistic goals, which they expect their employees to meet. When the employees are pressured to meet these goals, they can result to using unethical means of achieving the goals. In some cases, the managers may press the employees to reach the target, and they may pass on the idea that the results matter more than the means of getting there (Trevino and Nelson 24). This means that the employees will do everything that will bring those profits, and which will ensure they reach their target. Often times, businesses end up compromising their ethics so that they can stay ahead of the competition. In some cases, this has resulted in lowering the quality of their products to save on costs. Businesses do this so that they can offer cheap prices to the consumers.
Many countries have established antitrust laws, and other laws that regulate competition, with the aim of protecting businesses from unruly competitors. This is because some of the businesses reduce consumer welfare when they implement some of the competitive strategies. These laws prohibit monopolies and price discrimination. They ensure that businesses maintain fair trading practices. High competition in the industry can affect the ethical risks in the company’s operations. For instance, the ethical issue facing the company’s product, the iPhone 4, might have been because of the intense competition in the industry. The company did not take enough time to ensure that its products were working efficiently. Manufacturing high quality products is one of the most important elements of the company’s operations.
The company ensures that its customers have the optimum experience when using its products. The intense competition facing Apple Inc. from companies such as Samsung might have been the reason why the company compromised its products. Apple has also been accused of hiring cheap labor, which in itself is unethical. Some of the company’s products are manufactured in Taiwan, where the employees work in abusive conditions (Leonard). However, it is important to note that the company has managed to stay all these years with only a few scandals that touch on ethical standards. This is because the company has instilled upon its employees to conduct themselves right irrespective of the circumstances.
How do you think Apple has handled the various ethical issues that it has faced in the past?
I think that Apple has responded well to a majority of the ethical claims brought against it. For instance, it has ensured that it does not use any toxic chemicals to manufacture its products. Most of the toxic materials such as fluorescent lighting were replaced with light-emitting diodes that do not require mercury for lighting. In addition, the company has provided for a recycling program aimed at recycling the obsolete electronics to reduce inappropriate disposal, as well as to ensure sustainability considering electronic innovations happen rapidly, rendering older one outdated. Thus, having a recycling program ensures that such materials used in the earlier obsolete electronics are not wasted since some of the materials can still be used. This means it has put into consideration the environmental concerns that have recently been a major issue affecting many businesses as well as sustainability of developments and innovations. Think that through such a program, Apple has acted ethically in dealing with this ethical issue, more co considering they are offering discount and gift cards on customers to trade their obsolete and working devices to buy new ones as well as upgraded ones. In addition, this will cost the company a lot of money, but the move is an illustration the company is handling ethical issues with similar magnitude to their effects if left unhandled.
Apple has also ensured that to reduce carbon emissions by offering transit rides free of charge. This means that the employees do not have to use their cars when going to work, and hence they will not increase the amount of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. A while back, the company suffered claims that its employees in Taiwan were working under horrid and abusive conditions. Some of the workers complained that they were forced to work for more than sixty hours in one week, which is more than the legal hours required by the law. In addition, some of the workers claimed that children were allowed to work in the company (Enderle 2010). The management reacted and resolved this problem by changing the working conditions in the affected factories.
Another ethical issue that Apple has been involved in is the product quality. Considering this is one of Apples emphasis in its marketing, providing products that are not up to standard or with minor defects could send the wrong alarm to customers. With its iPhone 4, a problem of reception by customers was realized. The problem occurred due to interference with the antenna when held in a certain way, which saw customers complaining. At first, Apple tried to minimize the problem, which again saw criticism fall on its side. However, the company went ahead to solve the problem, by first offering free bumpers as well as cases for a period of time until the problem was resolved.
Finally, the other ethical issue the company has faced for sometimes is on privacy, after the company together with Google uncovered that the cell phones sold do collect data on the position of the cell phone (Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative 2011). This made customers feel a though their privacy was infringed, which was so. The company dealt with the problem by introduction of software, although some still complain the problem still exists, even after the Apple said customers had the choice of switching it off and on. This has had the government is consider whether to pass new laws on the issue, which will sure have an effect on the company. This is one of the areas that Apple has not been able to deal fully with issues revolving around ethics. Other issues that Apple has not managed to deal completely with are patent and intellect issues, which have seen it, pick up several lawsuits with other technological companies. However, the company has dealt with majority of its ethical issues well.
Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative. Apple Inc’s Ethical Success and Challenges. University of New Mexico.
Enderle Rob. Apple and the Ethical/Business Problems of Child Labor and Other Unsavory Practices. itbusinessedge.com, Mar 1, 2010. Web. May 7, 2012.
Ferrell, O. C. et al. Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases. New York, NY: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print
Leonard, Andrew. There is no Ethical Smartphone. Feb 23 2012. May 4, 2012.
Trevino, K. Linda and Katherine, A. Nelson. Managing Business Ethics. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons