The greater capacity and ease, with which information technology allows all employees to access and manipulate potentially sensitive company property, creates far more opportunities for employees to behave inappropriately in order to undermine their firms. Unethical behavior is an issue for all employers and all industries; however, the moral risk associated with this power is even greater for mankind. While ethics involve considering the interests of others to help ensure an individual’s interests are satisfied, morals are an effort to aspire to an ideal in order to improve society as a whole. Due to globalization, information technology both impacts the professional conduct, i.e. ethics, of individuals and their moral behavior as human beings.
Business ethics exist to ensure a firm does not undermine the integrity and longevity of its industry as well as itself. Consequently, ethics also represent an attempt to address factors, which cannot be overtly assessed, to ensure success now and in the future. Although the need for ethics may appear to be a moral issue wrapped in subjective reasoning, ethics are actually a major concern for any business viewed as an enduring entity designed to last. On the other hand, ethics are not morals. Although the interests of society should represent the long-term interests of a company, the short-term interests of businesses can conflict with the interests of society. This means ethics are not enough to control the moral issues associated with information technology.
While the most distinct, dramatic moral issues in business come from the executive world, all employees now face far more moral quandaries. Because the use of technology distances individuals from humanity, especially when it involves the worldwide web, employees are encouraged to make decisions without considering the harm done to real people across the globe. As information technology further improves communication methods and replaces human workers, the moral risk will grow. Certainly, unethical behaviors like corporate theft are more likely due to the impact of information technology, yet the moral risk in business from technology is the objectification of people that justifies employee abuse and practices that harm communities.
Furthermore, when personal computers and email took over the business world, employers were able to communicate so quickly that management decisions could be dispatched almost instantaneously. Coupled with the ability to minimize human input and to abruptly adapt operations through the use of sophisticated information technology, improved modes of communication have transformed business operations from a more intimate, localized affair to a bureaucratic, global operation. As a consequence, the responsiveness of modern business infrastructure farther distances management from those impacted by their decisions and makes them less responsive to moral issues.
As new technology infiltrates a community, it changes how people behave and respond to each other. In the business world, information technology has and continues to alter how employers and employees influence the entire globe. Corporate entities have, in fact, used this technology to make themselves far more influential than many governments, especially in the wake of globalization. With this newfound power, which firms may not fully recognize or be able to cope with, comes the need to understand what and how moral issues influence the decisions both employers and their employees make on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the distance created by technology undermines this increased need.
Moreover, the distance between executives and workers produced by information technology, as well as firms and the communities of the world, creates greater moral risk. In tandem, the efficiency and flexible nature of this technology limits the human component in business while the speed of technology allows decisions to be made so quickly it is difficult for the decision makers to consider their impact on communities and individuals. This leads to damaging consequences for faceless people, especially those workers in third world industries. Consequently, the objectification of humans is the moral risk associated with technology in the business world.