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The Microsoft Corporation is a fortune 500 company that ranked # 35 on the fortune 500 list in 2013 (Fortune 500, 2013) and is one of the largest business corporations in the world. It was founded in 1975 by two guys named Paul Allen and Bill Gates, the business developed very rapidly as the years went by and reached a marker of 89,000 employees, with a revenue of $62 billion dollars and had offices located all over the world (Fortune 500, 2011).
From the initial headquarters that is held in Albuquerque New Mexico, the Microsoft Company steadily increased the offices held within the United States and expanded that to include more than 100 countries abroad. This expansion into different countries became a challenge because of having to deal with new lifestyles, new cultures, people, and languages. Proper research needed to be conducted not to mention the implementation of a proper working strategy to help the integration of these new ethics and cultures into those of the Microsoft Corporation.
The homepage of the Microsoft Corporation shares a summarized version of its culture and says “We as individuals and as a company value honesty, integrity, constructive self criticism, openness, mutual respect, and continual self improvement” (Microsoft Corporation, 2011). The Microsoft Corporation also presents their official responsibilities as part of their ethical obligation. “We at the Microsoft Corporation hold ourselves accountable to our shareholders, customers, employees, and partners, and we do this by honoring our commitment, providing results, and striving for the highest quality possible” (Microsoft Corporation, 2011).
When making a move into new cultures and countries, it becomes very important for employees old and new to not only understand but also accept the Microsoft Corporations ethics and culture. As we all know Microsoft products are used all over the world in both businesses and homes. When they first made the decision to open an office in Lebanon, a majority of the computers ran on the Microsoft Windows operating system and the Windows Office program was the most popular word processing and spreadsheet program.
However, there was a problem and that problem was the fact that there was a bunch of versions of this system that had been pirated and distributed in that country. In a country where buying a five dollar pirated software program from a local computer store made it a little hard in terms of convincing some people that it was not only unethical but also illegal. This brings about the question of, “How is The Microsoft Corporation going to sell authentic versions of their software when there are pirated versions being distributed at such a cheaper price not to mention a lack of government control involved”?
Because of this, Microsoft proceeded to send letters to these major organizations warning them against using this pirated software. They also offered to visit these businesses in order to conduct a site survey so that assessments could be made in terms of what software would fit the company the best and at what the cost would be. The Microsoft Corporation also provided the organization that behaved ethically and invited Microsoft in for the survey assessment; Microsoft turned around and gave them a very good price deal on the software.
Microsoft also introduced to them a payment facility for the companies that had to make large purchases of the software in order to get licenses for the pirated software they already had in place. Everyone knows that not all organizations and businesses operate within ethical boundaries. Lebanon, just like the U. S. , is similar in the fact that it is an individualist culture. However, bribery is common throughout this country. Microsoft has an ethical standard that is against these types of acts and it is totally against their integrity.
It was however, improbable to sell these authentic copies to many of these businesses without presenting these managers with some type of gift in exchange. Some of these organizations proceeded to offer gifts to the Microsoft Corporation’s employees. They in return were hoping for some type of special discount, or a deal would not work out. The Microsoft Corporation has an ethical obligation to their shareholders and that obligation is to protect and increase the value of the shares. The Microsoft Corporation has to be able to earn a said profit in order for the share values to increase.
On a bad note, Microsoft cannot legitimately sell software copies in a country that has corruption and bribery within its ethics and culture. According to Transparency International “The transparency in Lebanon ranked 2. 5 out of 10 in the world in 2010” (Corruption Perception Index 2010 Results, 2010). When comparing that score to 8. 9 out of 10 in Canada and 7. 1 out of 10 in the United States, the difference is quite staggering. Microsoft has to be able to find a way to adapt their approach in order to conclude some type of successful business in the country of Lebanon.
According to the text book “The biggest source of anxiety for business people in America who operate abroad is the expectations of bribes and payoffs” (Trevino & Nelson, 2007). When the Microsoft management team was faced with bribes or offerings in order to sell their software to the organizations who where operating on pirated copies, they in return chose to use an ethical model in order to make a decision in regards of choosing which course of action would be best to take.
The judicial systems of these countries that have a low transparency, that are similar to those in Lebanon, are very weak. So filing a lawsuit against the businesses that are running the pirated versions of the Microsoft software programs would turn out to be very costly, time consuming and may end up yielding no type of results in the end. Management teams that are faced with different types of ethical situations can apply different types of ethical models in order to help assist in the process of decision making.
In the case of bribing a manager of an organization in order to purchase software that is legal, it is possible that they could apply the utilitarianism ethical model. By looking at the result, it might be easy to try and make a decision on whether or not the employees at the Microsoft Corporation may try and bribe a business into purchasing Microsoft software that is legal. On a positive note, Microsoft selling more software to organizations and businesses that need it or may already be using it may help in the reduction of software being pirated within the country.
The share prices at Microsoft are being maintained by the revenue and the employees receiving a commission. On the negative side, if a bribe is being paid to an employee or a member of the business or an organization who is purchasing the Microsoft software. The Utilitarianism’s ethical model shows approval of this as a decision that is ethical. Being able to apply different ethical models, such as the deontological model may end up having different ending results. The question that this raises is “Should all
businesses or organizations pay some type of bribe or bribes in order to help sell their products? ” The answer to this naturally is, “no”. Global businesses are faced with many different challenges everyday as they expand into different foreign organizations. Ethical challenges will always arise for an organization as they expand. The ethical decisions made in regards to different business matters can usually be solved by applying the different ethical models that are available.
There are plenty of tools available for helping solve arising ethical problems and they need to be used so they may be helpful in making solutions. With the launch of Microsoft in the country of Lebanon they need to confront these ethical issues of bribery so that they can enter the market. The Microsoft Corporation must learn to adapt their policies in order to comply with the ethical standards they have in the country of Lebanon. References Corruption Perception Index, 2010 results (2010).
Transparency International Retrieved August 11, 2013 from http://www. transparency. org/policy_research/surveys Fortune Global 500 (2011) CNN Money, Retrieved August 11, 2013 from http://money. cnn. com/magazines/fortune/global500/2011 Microsoft Corporation (2011) About Microsoft, Retrieved August 10, 2013 from http://www. microsoft. com/about/en/us/default. aspx Trevino. L. K & Nelson. K. L (2007) Retrieved August 9, 2013 from Managing Business Ethics (4th Ed). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.