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Bhopal Disaster - Case Study Example

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Bhopal Disaster

These include non-compliance with safety rules, lack of employee training to deal with safety standards, location of the plant close to a densely populated area and other reasons that surfaced right after the disaster.
Business ethics refers to the corporate philosophy and mindset about the rights, obligations, duties, responsibilities and conduct for doing business. There is no universal principle for ethics, however several theories were proposed.
Right after the disaster, Union Carbide (UCC) and their local partners in India, Union Carbide of India Limited (UCIL) started blaming each other and tried to pass the buck in hope of saving themselves for being responsible for the disaster. Hence, they failed to display Duty Ethics that refers to carrying out activities based on objective duties and obligations.
The Golden Rule of ethics is to act in a way one wants others to act towards him/her. Similarly, 'the professional ethic' paradigm 'asks to take actions that a disinterested panel of professional colleagues would view as proper' (Laczniak, 1983). The Utilitarian Principle for ethics refers to acting in a way that is best for the greatest number. However, as seen from the case, UCC made no real effort to ethically justify their actions in the Bhopal disaster. Though they maintain that they acted in the best interests of the public after the disaster, yet there is no independent confirmation of this claim. They even failed to pass the TV test as Laczniak (1983) defines as 'Would I feel comfortable explaining to a national TV audience why I took this action'
After the disaster, UCC remarked that it 'had never had a presence in India and that UCIL was essentially an autonomous operation' (Sharplin, 1989); although, Browning (1993) explained that 'UCC owned over 50% of the plant that was operated by UCIL'.
UCC has never apologised to Indian people regarding the incident and carelessness on behalf of both the principals and the operators. Subsequent forensic investigations identified a serious lack of commitment by management to ensure implementation of health and safety standards at the plant. Many observations were noted by scientists and plant auditors, yet none of these was implemented till the disaster struck. These facts show that the company seriously violated ethical standards of utilitarianism and ethics of duties; they showed lack of respect for a large population of Bhopal and never accepted their responsibility towards doing their jobs, that is to ensure the safety standards at the plant.
Corporate Social Responsibility
The corporate social responsibility concepts require that companies take the responsibility to ensure the safe and secure environment for the benefit of general public. In addition, these call for establishing a standard to contribute to the society in general, and then compliance with that corporate social policy or standard to enhance the quality of life for general public in the area where a company operates. However, as evident, no such responsibility was exhibited by either ...Show more


The unfortunate incident that took place on December 2, 1984 in the Bhopal state of India is the classic example of unethical practices by a corporation that resulted in loss of thousands of precious lives.
The incident was attributed to water leakage into methyl isocyanide (MIC) holding tank, due to slip blind water isolation plates that were excluded from another tank's lack of maintenance procedures' application…
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