The facts in this case study present a dilemma decision by a professional, regarding upholding of professional ethics on one side and being committed to family ties on the other. At the first instance, Luke is very committed to his job and the underlying professional concerns and ethics. He fully understands the ethical principles and guidelines that regulate confidentiality of information. There is also a clear understanding of the main purpose and significance for confidentiality of information on the proposed investment plan by the ABC Company. With this understanding, any person who proposes such information will have an advantage over any other player in the real estate market. This is the reason why Luke is considering disclosing such information to his brother.
From this knowledge, Luke knows that his brother stands a chance to make the right decision by selling his piece of land prior the announcement of the investment by ABC Company. He is also aware that telling his brother about the investment may mean disclosing information to other people owning land in the neighborhood. This may jeopardize his job as a career and may also lead to huge losses to the company.
The issue that is facing Luke is in regard to the consequences of each of his decisions concerning the facts of the case. If Luke adheres to his professionalism and ethics, it is possible that his brother will lose money if he makes the decision to sell the property after the announcement on the proposed ABC`s investments. On the other hand, Luke risks a divided relationship if he does not disclose such information to his brother, who is facing a loss or a gain depending on Luke`s decisions. Luke is facing an ethical dilemma as there are two conflicting loyalties that he needs to solve. His decision will either betray his family`s loyalty or his loyalty to the Company. Whichever decision Luke makes in this situation, either telling his brother or refraining from disclosing this information to him is a dilemma involving his loyalty.
Virtue ethics theory focuses on the moral actor (the person) as opposed to the morality of the act (decision or behavior) itself. It considers the character, intention and motivation of the actor unlike the other theories (Trevino & Nelson, 2011). Virtue ethics advocate for a person to act with integrity and with good intentions to the society. The decision made on virtue ethics should be influenced by the desire to be morally responsible in the community (Trevino & Nelson, 2011). In virtue ethics, professional code of conduct is the guiding principle for employees at ABC. One should only act or make decisions based on their professional conduct. In absence of a code of conduct, one must ask him or herself, what guiding principles are necessary to compel one to act with integrity. In the current case, Luke is hired by ABC to manage the project. As a manager he is compelled to be act in the best interest of the company. He should not disclose any information regarding the development as professional code of ethics for managers emphasizes confidentiality.
The Golden Rule
The golden rule is an ethical approach to decision making based on the deontological theory. It acts as a guide to deontological decision making. It states that “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Trevino & Nelson, 2011 p.43). The theory emphasizes on the importance of being highly ethical. For instance one may not lie for a friend who has broken the law, to save them from going to jail, even though such a friend would do the same for you. For golden rule, things that are morally right are of importance.
In the current situation, Luke will need to tell his brother of the existing plan to save him from incurring losses. It is important to remember that Owen, Luke`s brother already had the idea of selling his house but he had not made a final decision based on uncertainty of the real estate industry. Luke would of course wanted to be treated the same, if he were in a similar situation.
In the context of this ethical dilemma, Luke must act with integrity and avoid jeopardizing the company`s plan, and at the same time show his loyalty to his blood brother. I would recommend Luke to advice his brother to continue with his decision of selling the house, since the market is unpredictable. He can give him an example of a situation that may change the real estate market in the future. This will be on basis of the golden rule. Consequently virtue ethics mandate him to act on high level integrity, as such, he should ensure he does not tell his brother the truth.
Trevino, L.K. & Nelson, K.A. (2011). Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk About How To Do It Right. (5[th] ed.). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.