Ethics in production is a subset of business ethic that is meant to ensure that the production function or activities are not damaging to the consumer or the society. Like other ethics there is a certain code of conduct or standards to be followed, however ensuring that the ethics are complied with is often difficult.
One of the most important characteristic of the business today is that there is a great degree of interdependence between various business functions. Production cannot happen without marketing and sales and vice versa. In order to survive in the competitive sphere organizations try to reduce the costs involved in production processes. This cost efficiency is sometimes achieved at the cost of quality. Poor processes and technology is used to keep the cost down, this is especially true for small players who cannot afford economies of scale. Having said this there are also examples of industry giants that compromised on certain production processes, cola companies make up for a good example.
All the production functions are governed by production ethics but there are certain that are severely harmful or deleterious which need to be monitored continuously. The following are worth mentioning:
There are ethical problems arising out of use of new technologies that are deleterious to health, safety and environment. Technological advancements like genetically modified food, radiations from mobile phones, medical equipment etc are less problems are more of dilemmas.
Defective services and products or products those are innately deleterious like alcohol, tobacco, fast motor vehicles, warfare, chemical manufacturing etc.
Animal testing and their rights or use of economically or socially deprived people for testing or experimentation is another area of production ethics.
Ethics of transactions between the organization and the environment that lead to pollution, global warming, increase in water toxicity and diminishing natural resources.
Dilemma of Ethics in Production
There are certain processes involved in the production of goods and a slight error in the same can degrade the quality severely. In certain products the danger is greater i.e. a slight error can reduce the quality and increase the danger associated with consumption or usage of the same exponentially. The dilemma therefore lies in defining the degree of permissibility, which in turn depends on a number of factors. Bhopal gas tragedy is one example where the poisonous gas got leaked out due to negligence on the part of the management.
Usually many manufactures are involved in the production of same good. They may use similar or dissimilar technologies for the same. Setting a standard in case of dissimilar technologies is often very difficult. There are many other factors that contribute to the dilemma, for example, the involvement of the manpower, the working conditions, the raw material used etc.
Social perceptions also create an impasse sometimes. For example the use of some fertilizer by cola companies in India recently created a national debate. The same cold drinks which were consumed till yesterday became noxious today because of a change in the social perception that the drinks are not fit for consumption.