Dexter Morgan

Professor Waddell

WRT 202.01


Research Proposal

Topic Question

Business ethics. What is business ethics? Many people say business ethics is a contradiction in terms. Business ethics can destroy a successful company, and many questions arise when discussing the subject of business ethics. How do unethical decisions in the business world affect the people involved, andhow can a business be sure its executives are making decisions based on the company’s interests and not their own?


The information I collect is intended to be used to understand why some businesses seem to have trouble making good choices. It is important that executives take time to consider the ramifications of the decisions they are making on a daily basis, and to help others understand how their behaviors can affect more than themselves. I anticipate the readers of this study’s results to be those interested in how choices made in their business’ can affect others. Unethical business executives who read this study may have a corrupt attitude of the business ethics subject, which can cause a great dilemma within that corporation, but I believe most readers to have a neutral outlook on the ethics subject.


I hope my research will assist those considering whether or not a decision they are about to make may have ethical issues attached to it, and what the results of those decisions may be. In informing business executives and students, I hope to enhance their viewpoint so they do not decide their little untruth will never affect them or their peers. I plan to bring the information about ethics in the business world directly to the reader’s attention, and help them understand how doing right will improve their own well being, and hopefully help them avoid getting caught up in the next Enron scandal.

Proposed Line of Inquiry

I intend to research business ethics by reading reports of unethical decisions certain business have chosen to make. Enron, for example, being the biggest news worthy case of how business ethics is present today, will be a main point of my research. I have read their code of ethics and it is clear that CEO Kenneth Lay knew his actions were wrong. Other examples are WorldCom and Tyco. Reading how business executives are trying to improve their organization’s views and educate how business ethics are necessary throughout their organization is another method of research I am using to investigate my thesis. What are business ethics, and how can the decisions business officials make affect those around them. What do people view as ethical or unethical, and do they think their choices do not affect others, or just not care. I intend to focus on these questions while doing my research and writing my research paper. I plan to do primary research for my research paper and survey what people think of as ethical or unethical, a lie that affects no one, or a lie that may damage something. The questionnaire I devise will be used to deduce what people’s perceptions of ethics really are.


I am qualified to perform this research project because I am currently enrolled as a business administration major at York College, and I am taking business courses, currently Intro to Business, which I am gaining experience identifying how decisions made in businesses can be viewed as ethical or unethical, as well as the results from such decisions. I plan to use this research to gain knowledge about business ethics to allow me to become without a doubt, an ethical business person.

Proposed Timetable

I plan to finish my research proposal and project over the next few weeks as laid out in the chart below.

Date / Objectives
10/22/2007 / Conference on proposal rough draft.
10/23/2007 / Finish proposal rough draft.
10/24/2007 / Peer reviews.
10/25/2007 / Edit proposal rough draft.
10/26/2007 / Roundtable sharing research proposal ideas.
10/27/2007 / Finish research proposal.
10/31/2007 / Research proposal due.
11/01/2007 to / Work on research paper.
11/26/2007 / Research paper rough draft due. Peer reviews.
11/27/2007 to / Finish research paper.
11/30/2007 / Research paper due. Presentations.

Annotated Bibliography

Brewer, Lynn. "Is There a Little Bit of Enron in All of Us." The Journal for Quality & Participation (2007): 26-28. Academic Search Premier. EBSCOhost. Schmidt Library, York, PA. 17 Oct. 2007. Keyword: business ethics.

Former Enron executive Lynn Brewer wrote the article “Is There a Little Bit of Enron in All of Us" about some of the unethical actions she observed while working for the company. She goes on to say the employees at Enron who “performed” the best, by manipulating profits, were rewarded and encouraged to continue doing so. The more who did so, the more acceptable the actions became at Enron. Her final point is that if nothing is done to stop these actions from occurring, that “little bit of Enron” could come out in all of us. This final point is very relevant to my research because it shows how a little lie can snowball wildly out of control in large successful corporations, ultimately ending with that company’s demise.

Connolly, Michael B. International Business Finance. 1st ed. New York, NY: Routledge, 2007. 166-173.

These eight pages of Michael Connolly’s book, International Business Finance, deal with corporate scandals that have rocked the corporate world in the past few years. These scandals include the Enron scandal of 2002, the WorldCom scandal in 2005, and the Tyco International Inc., Bermuda scandal of 2002. All of which have brought charges against their CEO’s including insider trading, fraud, and tax evasion. The book continues by describing the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002, which is a direct result of the earlier scandals.

This information is very useful while researching business ethics because it discusses some of the mistakes and issues companies have made falsely maximizing their corporation’s profits, many times lining their own pockets.

Federwisch, Anne. "Toward an Ethical Culture: Characteristics of an Ethical Organization." Apr. 2007. Santa Clara University. 17 Oct. 2007 <

The article “Toward an Ethical Culture: Characteristics of an Ethical Organization” by Anne Federwisch is her view of how business ethics has gained a new influence in organizations today. Acts such as the Sarbanes Oxley Act (2002) and other sentencing guidelines challenge corporations to deal with ethics head on. The article points out that without proper enforcement from a senior executive, who has authority in the company, leading an ethics counsel that regularly attempts to correct ethics issues, all efforts to be an ethical company may be futile. This article is pertinent to my research because it points out how although companies may have good intentions when it comes to business ethics, without proper enforcement those intensions could become unsuccessful.

Koehn, Daryl. ""Business Ethics" Goes Beyond Contradiction in Terms." Houston Business Journal. 4 Dec. 1998. 17 Oct. 2007 <

“Business ethics goes beyond a contradiction in terms” written by Daryl Koehn is a defensive piece about how business ethics is joked about in the business world as a contradiction in terms. The author remarks how ethics in medicine or law are hardly ever questioned, but business people often remain considered unethical because of their profession. Daryl Koehn comments how business ethics is in fact a large part of business people’s lives, and is not an oxymoron. This article is helpful for my research because it portrays the thoughts of a business ethics teacher about how business ethics is somewhat falsely depicted in the professional world.

Palmeri, Christopher. "What Went Wrong At Mattel." Business Week Online (2007): 7. Academic Search Premier. EBSCOhost. Schmidt Library, York, PA. 21 Oct. 2007.

“What Went Wrong at Mattel” written by Christopher Palmeri is about how toy manufacturer Mattel has outsourced much of its toy manufacturing to China. Recently a barrage of toy recalls have plagued the toy company, all from toys made in China. This raises the question of how can Mattel effectively monitor its plants overseas. Mattel is renowned for being an ethical manufacturing company, even allowing outside audits of its plants, and is in the process of testing every batch of toys coming through production, whereas the company used to only test random batches of toys. The article also takes into account how these recent recalls may affect holiday sales this year. “What Went Wrong at Mattel” is relevant to my research on business ethics because it reveals how an ethically run company who outsources work overseas can face challenges it would otherwise not face if the work was being done in the United States.

Pasha, Shaheen. "Enron Founder Ken Lay Dies." CNNMoney.Com. 5 July 2006. 28 Oct. 2007 <

Lay, Kenneth L. "Enron's Code of Ethics." 1 July 2000. 17 Oct. 2007 <

Enron is the most infamous corporate finance scandal of the decade. Enron CEO Kenneth Lay was convicted of ten counts of fraud and conspiracy in the Enron accounting scandal of 2002. Since the scandal Enron has filed for bankruptcy and gone completely out of business, losing investors everything. Kenneth Lay passed away July 5, 2006 while awaiting trial for the scandal that ruined the company he started. The smoking gun article is interesting because it is Enron’s Code of Ethics from the company handbook. The code of ethics memo, which is signed by Lay, is a precursor to the Code of Ethics and states what Lay expects from his employees, to be responsible and ethical. I find it very interesting that less than two years later he was involved in the scandal. These articles are relevant to why business ethics is important because they show what can happen when the regulations a company sets are blatantly ignored.