Ethical Issues in Organizational Communication


EthicalIssues in Organizational Communication

EthicalIssues in Organizational Communication

Thecase of U.S oil Companies paying less return to the government is atypical example of a clash between the goals of corporations and thepublic interests. While the growth of corporate goals and objectiveslead to benefit the society around it, the same could have seriousnegative effects to the community. In 2013, the Huffington Postreported that the United States government is not doing enough to getfair returns from the oil companies (Sheppard,2013).To peruse their goal, the U.S oil companies set up oil drills inpublic land.However, the occupation of the land did not consider the interest ofthe locals since the companiesoverlookedand ignored the social-economic concerns of the people(Sheppard,2013).The case of U.S oil Companies presents a scenario where the companieswere at a crossroads on whether to continue with their planned goalsor put the interest of the public.

Thecase of U.S oil Companies locating their factories for therevolutionary car in the region presents an ethical dilemma as wellas a case of failure of corporate communication. In the dilemma ofethics, there are issues that arise from the case which project thecompanies’ relationship with the community. According to Sheppard(2013),the ethical concern is whether the government is getting fair returnsfrom the oil companies or not and whether the government shoulddemand more from these companies. The companies do not consult withthe local members of the public to determine what they needed andwhat they expected from their operations in the oil fields. As aresult, the local community felt robbed their land and their sourceof livelihood.

Theperspective of organizational communication in this case is broughtout in the oil companies have handled the situation in terms ofcommunication. The U.S oil Companies did not carry a preliminarystudy to understand the concerns of the public before settling theiroil drills there. The ethics of not communicating is another ethicalperspective that arises from the case is the extent at which largecorporate organizations go to fulfill their ambitions without regardto ethics (Morsing&amp Schultz, 2006).This shows that the companies did not intend to consider theinterests of the public.

Accordingto Jondleet al (2011), organizationalculture of companies should be reflected in the actions of firms intheir operations. The U.S oil Companies are is highly regarded fortheir wealth and also commitment to social responsibility andcommunity development. However, in the case of establishing the oilbusinesses in public land without fair payments are not ethical dueto the failure to consult the community as well as importantstakeholders. This helps the companies to balance their situationsand ethical fundamentals and communicate their values (NortheasternUniversity, Week 3). This presents a typical culture of largemultinationals to carry projects without necessarily communicating tothe stakeholders that will be affected.

Thecommunication strategies that would be used by the Companies would befor internal and external benefits. One of the communicationstrategies that U.S oil Companies could have used would becampaigning in the local media of the project and requirements fortheir success. According to May (2013), this would help the communityto understand the situation the Companies are exposed to. Secondly,the companies would have communicated through invitations toconsultative meetings on how to acquire land for their oil business.Moreover, the companies could have communicated directly to localsthat would be affected by the factory and understood their concernsas well as their interests in terms of social-economic well being.

Asa result of the failures in terms of ethics and communicationstrategies of U.S oil Companies, some recommendations for strategiesare important to highlight. The first recommendation is that acompany should carry out an analysis of interests in terms of theethical and communication concerns that surround the case (Morsing&amp Schultz, 2006).According to Northeastern University (Week 1), this can be done usingthe Individual vs. Community interest to determine the conflictingvalues. According to Northeastern University (Week 1), the conflictof the interests between an individual organization and the communityleads to negative effects on the organizational image of thecompanies. In the case of U.S oil Companies, the ethical andcommunication concerns reflected their relations with the public andgovernment.

Secondly,the U.S oil Companies should start communication campaigns thataddress issues of concern to the society, the industry. The use ofregular communication of an organization is important to manage theirethics, transparency and public relations. An example of a companythat has embraced communication methods for transparency is IBM.Through the use of podcasts, the IBM has embraced an effectiveorganizational communication that has protracted their ethical andoperational culture to a large audience. According to IABCMagazine (2008), IBMpodcasts are audio and digital files that are released on a regularbasis through the online media. It is a communication strategy thatthe company has employed to reach a number of audiences, especiallythose who are interested in the company. According to IABCMagazine (2008),the podcasts of the company have attracted a considerable number ofaudiences who want to learn the tale of the company regardingtechnology and innovation.

U.Soil Companies should also have communicated their goals clearly topeople so that they can buy into the vision and mission of the firm.The decision for the company as to whether to continue with theproject or not should actually be supported by the community. Theregular communications are therefore part of the marketing strategythat convinces customers and local community to buy into the firm’sgoals. As the companies communicate their vision, it should alsocover varied topics, they involve a wide coverage of knowledge andadvancements that are not directly related to the ethics of thecompanies.

Finally,the U.S oil Companies should embrace the opinion of the community byconsulting with the leaders in the society. This will make thecompanies socially responsible as well as politically respectful tothe leadership in the community. One of the ethical dilemmas that theU.S oil Companies case presents is the political role of largecompanies in the society. There is concern that most multinationalstend to act as if they are above the political authority, especiallyin the developing countries. Therefore, consultation with thepolitical leaders in the community affected by the project wouldplace the U.S oil Companies in a better position to establish biggerprojects in future.


Thecase of U.S oil Companies locating their factories in public landwithout fully catering for fair compensation presents issues ofethical concern and failure in communication. While the oil fieldsmay lead to benefit the locals, the company did not focus on thesocial-economic interests of the people in the land. Therefore, thesecompanies should engage proper communication strategies of informing,consulting and inviting all the stakeholders into the project. Thiswould be a strategy of selling their goals to the public, so as tocreate a sense of responsibility and ethical sensitivity to the localcommunity.


IABCMagazine, 2008. Companies whose cultures are largely opaque need toundergo a change process in order to embrace the principles oftransparency. InsideOut, Communication World November–December 2008

Jondle,D., Shoemake, R.C., &amp Kowske, B. (2011). Assessing the EthicalCulture. HighPerformance Institute white paper

May,S. (2013). Casesin Organizational Communication. Ethical Perspectives a andPractices. Universityof North Carolina, London: Sage Publications Inc.

Morsing,M., &amp Schultz, M. (2006). Corporate social responsibilitycommunication: stakeholder information, response and involvementstrategies. BusinessEthics: A European Review Volume15 Number 4 October 2006

NortheasternUniverity, Week 1, EthicalIssues in Organizational Communication.Class Notes

NortheasternUniverity, week 3,. ClassNotes

Sheppard,K. (2013). U.S.Is Making A Lot Less Off Drilling On Public Lands Than It Should Be.Retrieved From,&lt 06, 2014