Ethical Dilemmas in Organizations

Ethical dilemmas frequently occur in organizations. Whether it is a personal ground or at an organizational level, making a decision is unavoidable. In most cases, one must decide between two conflicting situations as they are challenging to choose. Ethical dilemmas aim at selecting the best decision, although the best decision is different for every individual. The process of decision-making triggers ethical dilemmas, and the ability to arrive at an optimum solution is critical to every individual. An ethical dilemma is a moral paradox in decision-making where it is difficult to decide between two or more conflicting alternatives (Figar & Đorđević, 2016). People rely on their values and morals rather than external standards to navigate these ethical dilemmas. Therefore, it is necessary to identify ethical elements, provide a rationale for ethically solving the dilemmas and outline the lessons that different organizations can learn from ethical dilemmas.

Different companies and their employees experience ethical dilemmas in their daily workforce. An example of an ethical dilemma occurred in a data entry company in the IT department. The company entrusted its IT team members with several data management roles, including collecting its data, processing customer’s invoices, and storing data in the company database. Unfortunately, several team members granted confidential data to a third-party competitor in exchange for a decent bonus. The third-party member leaked essential data from the organizational website, copied the companies’ important strategies it enacted to remain competitive in the market, and altered its database. After a while, the company noticed several changes in its system that affected its operations. The company lost important data, and customer’s invoices were exposed. As a result, the company suffered from legal consequences due to the victims’ compensation via lawsuit. Its business operations were also disrupted, and it suffered huge financial losses due to additional security costs to restore its website. The company carried several investigations, but the plot twist was that no one knew who subjected the company to a data breach.


 It is challenging to find solutions to ethical dilemmas. Finding an answer to this case is critical and depends on the individual’s morals and values. It may sound difficult and frightening to admit to their mistake, but it is ideal to settle this dilemma. The case subjected the involved team members to an ethical dilemma because they wondered whether to own up and accept their mistakes or wait silently until the case settled. The prime decision was to own up but owning up would subject them to extreme penalties that would cost them their job as soon as they were caught. However, the team member who leaked the company’s information decided to speak up and own their mistake. The team members chose this alternative as it had more positive impacts on their company than negative impacts. This rationale allowed the company to derive a corrective action, thus minimizing the financial and other losses it had incurred. The other alternative would make the company incur additional losses. Additionally, this rationale allowed the team members to handle their dilemma ethically.

This case demonstrates several ethical elements. Four essential elements determine ethics; values, rights, duties, and moral principles (Figar & Dordevic, 2016). The case demonstrates a dishonesty value. Values determine the desires of an individual or a group when faced with an ethical dilemma. The company entrusted the team members to manage its data but leaked the data to a third party, making the company incurred huge losses. Consequently, the group disregards the moral principles that regulated their obligation. They break the norms of the company and leaks confidential data to third parties. Also, this case indicates that the team members neglected their duties. Instead of performing the duties the company had entrusted them, they engaged in data breaching that exposed the company to losses.

Getting a solution to an ethical dilemma is critical.  The biggest challenge when dealing with a moral dilemma is that it does not necessarily offer a solution that complies with ethical norms. Individuals may opt to adopt solutions that are against ethical norms.  Despite how hard it is to make suitable decisions, solutions should be obtained ethically. Appropriate strategies are required to arrive at an optimum solution. Firstly, the team members should analyze the paradox logically by considering the negative and the positive consequences of their preferred option (Lo, 2020). The option with more positive outcomes should be selected. Secondly, the team members should adopt a value-based approach to establish a solution to their problem (Lo, 2020). The value-based approach is based on moral principles such as honesty, equality, and respect for ethical rights (Figar & Đorđević, 2016). Adherence to these principles allows team members to promote ethical elements required when solving ethical problems. The value-based approach enables team members to choose the alternative that offers more positive impacts than adverse outcomes. The team members arrived at the best solution by selecting the most appropriate option.

Furthermore, Through these rationales, the team identified the best solution for their problem at hand. When faced with ethical dilemmas, individuals and organizations should adopt suitable rationales that allow them to choose the best alternative. These strategies minimize ethical disagreements and allow harmonious dialogue during decision-making.

Ethical dilemmas allow organizations to learn important lessons. These lessons are not only important to that organization experiencing the challenges but also to other organizations. This ethical debacle depicts several lessons to other organizations. Firstly, organizations learn that they should model ethics when faced with ethical problems (Selart & Johansen, 2010). Ethics allows organizations to uphold moral principles and values at all levels of management. They understand that dealing with a dilemma ethically serves them many positive outcomes. Besides, organizations understand the importance of considering the impacts of decisions. Ethical paradox allows organizations and their team members to evaluate the effects of their choices before arriving at an accurate solution. Although it is difficult to identify the impacts before a resolution is made, this approach is necessary to achieve an organization rich in ethics. Effects should inform the decision-making process.

free essay typer



Moreover, Organizations conceptualize different strategies adopted when deriving a solution to an ethical problem. Obtaining a solution to a dilemma is strategic and requires adopting several approaches to get the best alternative (Figar & Đorđević, 2016). Organizations learn the importance of a value-based approach when dealing with dilemmas. The value-based system allows organizations to uphold ethical values, rights, duties, and moral principles when tackling challenging situations.

In conclusion, an ethical dilemma is a situation that subjects an individual or an organization to decide between two or more conflicting alternatives. These situations are unavoidable as they happen regularly at the workplace. When they occur, an organization should opt for other options that uphold ethics. Ethics are very important when establishing solutions to ethical dilemmas as they ensure that values and moral principles are considered. Therefore, when organizations and their team members face dilemmas, ethics should be their reference point.


Figar, N., & Đorđević, B. (2016). Managing an Ethical Dilemma. Economic Themes, 54(3), 345-362. doi: 10.1515/ethemes-2016-0017

Lo, B. (2020). Resolving ethical dilemmas. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health.

Selart, M., & Johansen, S. (2010). Ethical Decision Making in Organizations: The Role of Leadership Stress. Journal Of Business Ethics, 99(2), 129-143. doi: 10.1007/s10551-010-0649-0