Organizations and Society
In today’s world a great majority of citizens of the first world countries take almost everything as granted. Those people love to consume, love to buy high qualitative products and to enjoy life. However, one thing that most of those people do not do is to look beyond the price tag of the products. They do not ask questions such as: Where is that product produced? How are the working conditions in the factory? Why is it possible to produce the product for that price? They are rather happy that they have a certain standard of living, are able to consume almost everything and are especially happy whenever they make a good deal.
This paper is going to look beyond the price tag of products by analyzing the ethical issues shown in the documentary ‘Darwin’s Nightmare’ which was filmed in Mwanza, Tanzania where a great amount of fish is processed in order to export it to first world countries, and to find a solution how to improve the current situation. Firstly, the most important ethical issues of the documentary are presented. Secondly, the ethical issues of a concrete situation are analyzed. Thirdly the stakeholders are analyzed. Fourthly, a way how to
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After those four steps it is possible to draw finally a conclusion. 2. Ethical Issues: After reflecting critically the documentary it is obvious that in Mwanza many ethical issues occur. Ethical issues always occur whenever wrongdoing, injustice or unfairness happens (Buchholtz & Caroll, 2009). The movie demonstrates the exploitation of the African continent, more precisely of the city Mwanza in Tanzania, with its’ natural resources, its’ citizens, and its’ ecosystems. Most of those problems are linked with each other and the greatest of all occurring issues is the exploitation of people.
In the course of globalization production is going to cheap labor countries to increase profit margins. Therefore low wages are paid, long working hours are required, the equipment is not the best available and safety issues are not as strict as in the developed countries. Exactly those issues are seen in the documentary. The employees of the fish factory, including the fishers are not benefiting from the factory as much as the factory is benefiting from its’ workers since low wages are paid which is not enough to raise the standard of living and supply a roof and enough food for the whole family.
That is why families are more or less homeless, children are left to their own devices and society is not able to protect themselves against any kind of health issues. If the factory workers and fishers would earn more money they would indirectly help the local economy since they would be able to consume more goods, such as the processed fish and pass the money on. If this would be the case also other citizens of Mwanza would have more money to consume. Therefore there would be a slow, but continuous upwards movement. However, currently the managers of the fish factory do not consider all stakeholders.
To put it in Milton Friedman’s words, their social responsibility is to increase profits. Therefore they are only trying to maximize shareholder value and that is why the lowest possible salaries are paid or no engagement into social activities can be seen (Friedmann, 1970). Besides the low salaries it is also necessary to criticize the working conditions the workers are set out. The fishers who are supplying the fish are exposed during their work in old fisher boots which are not always in the best condition. Further, their working environment is full of crocodiles and they are not protected against them at all.
A last point which demonstrates the exploitation of people can be seen by the prostitution. The suitors of the prostitutes are foreigners which are somehow connected with the fish factory such as pilots. For them this “service” is comparable cheap and they do not respect the women at all. In one case it is even reported that one suitor killed one of the prostitutes without any consequences. Not only people are exploited but also the resources of the country or to put it in a brighter perspective the resources of the entire continent are exploited.
The factory takes away fish which the country could use to ensure their own feeding. In return for this resource workers are paid very little and this salary is partially taken away by selling the litter of the fish processing to the citizens instead of just giving it away for free. This situation will be further analyzed later in the paper. It is further reported that weapons from western countries are exported to Mwanza in order to sell them in surrounding countries to foster the civil war since great amounts of money is earned by those sales.
That is why it is possible to claim that in this case an unstable situation is more profitable since more weapons are demanded and it is possible to take away the resource money which must be earned beforehand somehow. Also if you look in the surrounding countries you can defiantly see that the fish is just a metaphor for the resources which is taken away. Other African countries are supplying crude oil or diamonds for instance. A last factor which is exploited is the environment. The fish which is processed in order to export it to Europe is not originally from Lake Victoria.
It was put into Lake Victoria for an experiment and now it is destroying the ecosystem in the Lake. The bright spectrum of different kinds of fishes which were native to the lake are nowadays decreasing rapidly. In addition to that reflecting the environment which is presented in the movie it seems that everything is not very sustainable and environmentally friendly. You are able to see wracks from planes just lying there wherever that plane crashed and children play with plastic garbage and even use the plastic as a drug since they are melting it and then sniff it.
All in all it can be said that through the natural and human resources which in this case Mwanza provides it attracts investors, which does not automatically mean a bad thing, since it provides labor, income, taxes, and investments in infrastructure. However, since those investors are very shareholders focused and therefore are trying to maximize profits the general African society, except a small group of people, is not benefiting that much from those investments. They are engaging in a bad exchange, giving away their resources in return for very little.
That is why it is impossible to raise the standard of living and provide their next generations a brighter future. Also by not paying attention to sustainability of those investments the African society might end up in an even worse condition as before. 3. Analysis of a concrete passage 3. 1 The Analysis of theoretical concepts This part of the paper is presents an analysis of the passage of the documentary in which fish frames are transported to the rural area. This analysis of the passage is based on three business ethics approaches – the conventional, principles and ethical test approach.
The conventional and ethical test approaches are briefly described, while the principles approach is presented more into detail due to its various theories. The Conventional Approach According to Bucholtz and Caroll (2009) the conventional approach to ethics concentrates on comparing practices to the norms of acceptability which are communicated to each individual by the society, family, local laws, employers and many more. This concept of ethics seems to be easy and clear to apply in many situations in one community.
However, when thinking as a European about the passage in the documentary where the action takes place in Africa, this conventional way of seeing ethics might unveil some challenges. The main struggle is to decide whose norms should be used for judgment, the European ones or the African ones. The following question tackles the norms that are the most important. As an example, we can take a person that grew up in Europe and watches the part of the documentary where the fish frames are brought to an extremely poor village.
The first thoughts could be: Why does the rich fish company bring only fish frames to the people in need? Why does not the firm supply some fishes for the poor people? Why does not the firm provide any clean room in which the fish frames could be stored in basic standards? These questions and many more might come up in the mind of the European viewer while taking into account his own norms of acceptability. In the first moment, the viewer’s opinion of the firm will be rather negative concerning its ethical behavior.
Therefore in order to make an ethical judgment there is a need for a different perspective. A second person, in this situation an individual knowing well the African reality, would most probably have a different point of view than the European perspective. Due to the second person, the viewer’s negative opinion might change to more neutral or even slightly positive, because he might understand that the African people from the rural village are happy to get fish frames, which result in food and jobs for local people.