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Processes and consequences in business ethical dilemmas: The oil industry and climate changes
Le Menestrel, Marc; van den Hove, Sybille; de Bettignies, Henri Claude
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
This paper proposes a framework to examine business ethical dilemmas andbusiness attitudes towards such dilemmas. Business ethical dilemmas canbe understood as reflecting a contradiction between a socially detrimentalprocess and a self-interested profitable consequence. This representationallows us to distinguish two forms of behavior differing by whetherpriority is put on consequences or on processes. We argue that theseforms imply very different business attitudes towards society:controversial or competitive for the former and aligned or cooperativefor the latter. These attitudes are then analyzed at the discursive level in order to address the question of good faith in businessargumentation, i.e. to which extent are these attitudes consistent withactual business behaviors. We argue that consequential attitudes mostlyinvolve communication and lobbying actions aiming at eluding the dilemma.Therefore, the question of good faith for consequential attitudes liesin the consistency between beliefs and discourse. On the other hand,procedural attitudes acknowledge the dilemma and claim a change of theprocess of behavior. They thus raise the question of the consistencybetween discourses and actual behavior. We apply this processes/consequencesframework to the case of the oil industry s climate change ethical dilemmawhich comes forth as a dilemma between emitting greenhouse gases and making more profits . And we examine the different attitudes of two oilcorporations-BP Amoco and ExxonMobil-towards the dilemma.
Business Economics and Industrial Organization
business ethical dilemma
procedural rationality
consequential rationality
oil industry
climate change
kyoto protocol
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