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Operations Management and Ethics

Essay by   •  February 7, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  699 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,502 Views

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Richard Branson once wrote that, "If you run one business well, you can run any business well." (Business). In one short sentence, Branson defined his vision of operations management. Regardless of the business being a record label, an airline, or a cellular phone company, operations management is a process of implementing policies and tasks as necessary to satisfy ownership, employees, and customers (Operations Management). Operations management is also the management of the processes that create goods, like records, and services, like air travel, that consumers utilize in the market (Ops). Because of the diversity of products and services in the market today, operations management can incorporate many different styles, strategies, and objectives.

Operations management is a loose term describing the conversion process raw goods are transformed into finished products. The transformation process includes the concepts of product / service, plant, processes, programs, and people as they apply to the creation of output (Introduction to Production and Operations Management, 2005). Each main concept introduces different management focuses that are filter through the entire operation. From Ford Motors approach to managing quality to Toyota's quest for continual improvement through kaizen, companies implement strategies to better manage their operations. These strategies can focus on improving quality, managing capacity, driving down costs, improving efficiency, reducing waste, or motivating employees to perform at a higher standard. For most companies these strategies all correlate to one primary objective, making more money. Whenever money is involved, the ethics and integrity of the people involved will be tested. The constant demand to generate higher profits creates ethical challenges in operations management.

Throughout my career, I have witnessed several ethical dilemmas relating directly to operations management. A very common problem occurs when companies decide to reduce the quality of their product to increase their profits while believing customers will not recognize the difference. Another problem occurs when employees inflate the number of hours worked on a project to generate additional revenues for the company and compensation for themselves. In each case, the driving force behind the ethical challenge was money. When these problems occur, some employees get caught between protecting their customers and protecting their jobs. With one such problem, I made the decision to seek new employment.

In my previous job, I was unfortunate enough to witness my employer make several decisions I believed to be very unethical. In each case, the dilemma was very similar. My company promised to deliver goods and services to a customer for a set price and then added several unapproved (and unnecessary) services to the billing after the job was completed. I became aware of the situation when a customer called me to complain that his billing was thousands of dollars higher then

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