Self-responsibility and interest can be examined in different perspectives. By nature, a person usually expects to reach his goal without considering the possibility of his or her decision and how it may affect the community around them. It is often times very difficult to differentiate responsibility from self-interest due to the fact that the consequences of being responsible conflict with the achievements of personal goals.
According to the A Brush with AIDS case study, the character faces the problem of making a decision, based on her self-interest and social responsibility. The consequence of choosing creates many risks, not only for her career, but for her reputation as well. If a decision gives benefits to a single person, and not to a whole society, the decision can be judged as being a responsible one. The risk is derived from making a responsible decision without considering the benefits to one’s self.
The character’s career becomes very successful when she is promoted from a sales representative to a senior market manager. She begins to earn a bigger income and more responsibility from her company, Sharp’s. The company is doing very well since the sale of its’ health products went from $9.6 million to $135 million in annual sales. The character does not foresee any future problems with her career.
But soon, problems start to arise. It comes to light that some of Sharp’s containers broke in cold temperature, causing product failures that put housecleaning personnel and nurses in great risk. The risk of being infected with deadly disease, such as AIDS, rises for hospital employees, because of the poor quality of Sharp’s products.
The character recognizes the product’s failure, but still must fight with herself to whether or not replacing the old Sharp’s products will benefit her future career and whether or not it is worth it. If the product is replaced, it will require additional costs, as well as delays with the expected profit plans for the company. She suspects that the promotion she expects will also be put on the backburner for at least another 18-24 months, not to mention the delay on the profit targets. She is in a great dilemma because everything she has always wanted (e.g. money and a high-ranking decision) will be hers, if she only decides to go after her own self interests. Without altering the Sharp production plan and obeying her director’s orders, she will be well off though at the same time she will be neglecting the safety of hundreds of innocent people who are using or will use Sharp’s defective product.
And what if the Sharp product is modified, what then? The new product introduced to the market could end up being defective as well. This could cause another production failure. The corporation also needs to decide to take risks on new product investments. The character could possibly lose her job because she is responsible for the success and failure of each new production. If she is lucky, she will be promoted and earn high respect from her fellow employees. She can either win or lose.
Without relying on her self-interest, the character can offer several explanations on new production to the board members. Despite and excessive sale of Sharp products, the corporation will earn a large sum of money in the short run, but in the long run, the corporation will face further customer complaints and jeopardize its’ reputation because of its’ faulty products. With the number of expected sales from Sharp products’, a gross profit of $128,000 and an expected profit of $29.4 million is estimated to be only 4% of the expected annual profit. If the corporation would be willing to invest 4% of the expected profit to invest in a new modified product; the patients’ or hospital employees would be willing to pay a higher price, since medicine and health supplier are imperfect goods.
Sharp’s old inventory could be disposed and recycled to create the new, improved product. The corporation could take advantage of the new product and eliminate other Sharp product suppliers from the market. Also, if the CDC and OSHA could test that the new product was effective and safe to use, the corporation could also take full advantage to promote the new product and acquire a larger profit in the near future.
The customer complaints about the 1987 needle sticking could also be evidence for the character to persuade the board members to approve the funds to modify the product and the director’s orders could then be overruled. The former annual profit plan would have to be eliminated, but the corporation would be producing better health care products to provide to the health care community.
The ethical issue can be discussed on the decision of the character to either make a choice based on self-interest or one based on social responsibility. The responsibility of supplying defective Sharp products to hospitals, thereby increasing the risk of diseases such as AIDS, which would not be an ethical decision. If the character wanted to earn a promotion by meeting the annual profit plan, without investing on the modifications of a new product, then that would not be considered an ethical decision.
On the other hand, if the character could persuade the corporate board members to invest on the new product, it would be considered ethical decision-making. The chance that diseases could infect the hospital employees would be low and health care services would be more efficient and effective to new patients.