Assignment on Ethical Dilemma

Added on - 16 Sep 2019

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The Parable of the Sadhu1by Bowen H. McCoyOn a mountain climbing expedition to the Himalayas, BowenMcCoy, a managing director of the Morgan Stanley Company,and his party found a pilgrim, or Sadhu, dying of cold. Althoughthe climbers helped the holy man, Mr. McCoy and his teamultimately pressed on with their trek, determined to reach thesummit. This unexpected ethical dilemma left themquestioning their values--and the values of business, whichoften places goal achievement ahead of other considerations.In this moving article, which received the Harvard BusinessReview’s Ethics Prize in 1983, Mr. McCoy relates hisexperience in the distant mountain of Nepal to the short andlong-term goals of American business.Last year, as the first participant of in the new six-month sabbatical programthat Morgan Stanley has adopted, I enjoyed a rare opportunity to collect mythoughts as well as do some traveling. I spent the first three months in Nepal,walking 600 miles through 200 villages in the Himalayas and climbing some120,000 vertical feet. On the trip my sole Western companion was an anthropologistwho shed light on the cultural patterns of the villages we passed through.During the Nepal hike, something occurred that has had a powerful impact onmy thinking about corporate ethics. Although some might argue that the experiencehas no relevance to business, it was a situation in which a basic ethical dilemmasuddenly intruded into the lives of a group of individuals. How the group respondedI think holds a lesson for all organizations no matter how defined.1. This article was originally published in the September-October 1983 issue of theHarvard Business Review(HBR). For its repoublicxation as a HBR Classic McCoy haswritten the commentary, “When Do We Take a Stand?” to update his observations.Bowen McCoyPhotos by MikeBrozda1
The Nepal experience was morerugged and adventuresome than I hadanticipated. Most commercial trekslast two or three weeks and cover aquarter of the distance we traveled.My friend Stephen, the anthropologist,and I were halfway through the 60-day Himalayan part of the trip whenwe reached the high point, an 18,000-foot pass over a crest that we'd haveto traverse to reach the village ofMuktinath, an ancient holy place forpilgrims.The SadhuSadhus, or holy men, roam thecountryside of India and Nepal,begging for food.Six years earlier I had suffered pulmonary edema, an acute form of altitudesickness, at 16,500 feet in the vicinity of Everest base camp, so we wereunderstandably concerned about what would happen at 18,000 feet. Moreover, theHimalayas were having their wettest spring in 20 years; hip-deep powder and icehad already driven us off one ridge. If we failed to cross the pass, I feared that thelast half of our "once in a lifetime" trip would be ruined.During the late afternoon, four backpackers from New Zealand joined us, and wespent most of the night awake anticipating the climb. Below we could see the fires oftwo other parties, which turned out to be two Swiss couples and a Japanese hikingclub.To get over the steep part of the climb before the sun melted the steps cut in theice, we departed at 3:30 a.m. The New Zealanders left first, followed by Stephen andmyself, our ports and Sherpas, and then the Swiss. The Japanese lingered in theircamp. The sky was clear, and we were confident that no spring storm would eruptthe day to close the pass.At 15,500 feet, it looked to me as if Stephen were shuffling and staggering a bit,which are symptoms of altitude sickness. (The initial stage of altitude sickness2
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