Liability and Punishment for CEO's - Ethical Considerations

Essay by acorns68University, Master'sA, July 2008

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In today’s world, CEO’s of major corporations or organizations have tremendous pressure on them to meet expectations and succeed. They are responsible for making the toughest decisions that affect many people. CEO’s often struggle with decisions because personal successes and morals confront each other. Normative ethics are important for CEO’s because their actions have an effect on people’s lives. Recently, WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers was sentenced to jail for 25 years because a jury ruled that he was responsible for an 11 billion dollar accounting fraud. His actions caused his cooperation to go bankrupt, which was at the time the largest bankruptcy case in U.S. history (Lazarus, 2005). Ebbers claimed he did not know what was going on, and others were to blame because he merely delegated tasks. Many people lost their jobs, many lost all of their savings tied to WorldCom stocks, and millions of people were affected by the actions that he made.

His decisions were strictly financial decisions and they appeared to be in his best interest only. The question then becomes, was Ebbers liable and did he deserve to go to jail? Some would say he made a business error and it ended up hurting his career, but jail was too harsh. Ebbers deserved to go to jail and deserved to be punished for his unethical decisions. Ebbers deserved to go to jail because he selfishly chose to exploit the rights, and ignore the consequences of the people he was going to affect. He had a duty to protect the contractual rights of his shareholders and partners. He intentionally deceived these people for selfish reasons and essentially stole from them. Ebbers actions illustrated he knew what was right and wrong and he knowingly made decisions that would hurt more people than help.

As the Chief Executive...