A Reflection on the Defining Moments by Joseph Badaracco

AReflection on the DefiningMoments byJoseph Badaracco

AReflection on the DefiningMoments byJoseph Badaracco

Thesignificance of ethics in the contemporary society cannot beoveremphasized. Indeed, part of the criticality of ethics isexemplified by the heightened organizational emphasis on individualethical conduct both at personal and professional level. Theproponents avow that one way in which institutions, as well as thesociety, can achieve their goals is by embracing ethical conduct.Such views can be welcomed as plausible because ethical practices arenot only costly to the organizations, but also to the individualsinvolved. For instance, unethical conducts such as corruptionstypically cost the organizations the loss of funds and reputationsthat compromise their ability to realize their goals. In the sameway, individuals found to have been involved in such practices facedifferent forms of adverse penalties such as job loss andimprisonment (Russell,2013).Whilethe society has welcomed the notion of ethical conduct, the path tointegrating the practice in all spheres of human life has tended tobe a somewhat challenging endeavor that is constrained by theinherent lack of a straightforward framework for addressing variousethical dilemmas. Therefore, in light of this view, the question ofhow the society can cultivate ethical behaviors is not onlyintriguing but also critical in responding to different forms ofchallenges. Joseph Badaracco, in DefiningMoments, presentssome of the interesting insights regarding the subject of ethics,which if embraced, will undoubtedly go a long way in enabling onerise above the associated challenges. The purpose of this paper is toreflect on the relevance of Badaracco’s viewpoint on personalethics journey.

TheInfluences that Have Shaped your Ethical Values

Oneof the strong points that can be inferred from Badaracco is thatindividual’s moral values do not just occur spontaneously. Rather,they are instilled and cultivated (Badaracco,1997).A reflection on personal ethical journey creates the allowance toidentify three forces behind the ethical values that I hold: culture,experience, and institutional policies.

Thecultural background is perhaps one of the most significant sources ofmoral values. I was raised in an environment that instilled moralvalues in me. The lessons on morality I learned were essentiallybased on affiliated religion, which required one to uphold thereligious values in making decisions and acting in all area sphere oflife, including at personal and professional level. Some of the morallessons include having respect for human life, obedience to parentsand institutions.

Mysecond valuable source of ethical values is the experience. Sincechildhood, life has exposed me to different forms of experiences,creating an allowance to learn. In some cases, the experiences havebeen a positive outcome, but in some cases adverse result. Ideally,the negativeoutcome experiences have always served to send a strongmessage that the decisions I undertook were not the best and that Ishould change. Positive outcomeexperiences, on the other hand, havealways played out strongly as reinforcement that certain ethicalcourses I pursued were appropriate, and that I should keep them up.

Lastly,I also consider institutional policies and rules and the source ofethical values. Essentially, I have been a member of differentinstitutions, which all happen to possess set out rules and policies,some of which have happened to be a universal code of ethics. Theexamples of derivative ethical values include professional andorganizations ethical conduct such as non-discrimination.

HowPersonal Influences and Defining Moments Affect My Decision-making inthe Workplace

Accordingto Badaracco (1997), individuals usually find themselves in thesituations that compel them to choose between two or more competingright choices, rather than between right and wrong choices. In manycases, they are driven by the personal desires to live up to theirpersonal values and standards and, at the same time, satisfy thestakeholder expectations. Under such circumstances, individuals wouldwant to strive and straddle with different aspirations andresponsibilities, which are inherently difficult to satisfy at a go.The scenarios in which individuals are confronted by the right versusright choices are what Badaracco calls the defining moment. Suchmoments play a crucial role in revealing the basic values, testingthe strength of an individual, and shaping the character (Badaracco,1997).Suchan insight creates the allowance to single out different ways thatpersonal influences and defining moments influence the manner that Imake decisions at the workplace.

Areflection of my personal ethical journey has revealed that thecourse of making decisions is, indeed, not a straightforward one andthat I cannot be an all-round ethical person unless I learn andcultivate the values. While culture, experience, and encounter withinstitutions have provided opportunities to verse with what is wrongand what it is right, I still know little about what is more rightthan the other, which is a revelation that I might most likely belimited in resolving dilemmas in which the right decisions arecompeting. Therefore, in another way, the encounters with thedefining moments have served as a test of my capability in makingethical decisions by identifying the areas of strengths to capitalizeand weaknesses to work on. In doing so, the personal influences andmy defining moments have shaped my decision-making in the workplaceby providing an opportunity to conceptualize and understanding whatethical decisions need. In particular, I believe decisions would onlybe said to be ethical if it is both moral and well reasoned.

TheExample of Ethical Conflict Experience

Thecase of ‘Sole Remaining Supplier’ describes a heart pacemakertechnology. Although it is an innovative life-saving device, it alsoraises ethical questions concerning its effectiveness. The device hasthe capability of making automatic adjustments depending on thedeviations from normal heartbeats. The device has the ability tostimulate heartbeats to prevent heart failures resulting to death.Additionally, the device also consists of delicate transistors, thedelicacy of which increases the probability of the instrumentbecoming faulty. The device use raises concerns and prompts asupplying firm to question whether it should continue dealing withthe instrument. If the company stops supplying the transistors,people are likely to miss the devices, yet other individuals in thechain of business would also suffer from the loss (Shanks,2017).On the other hand, if the supply process continues, people are likelyto be victims of the failed devices. Thus, the crucial questionpertaining to the dilemma is what course of action a transistorsupplier should take.

Centralto the subject is the obligations that vendors have in deliveringgoods. Suppliers are expected to deal in goods that would satisfy theneeds of the consumers. In essence, it is not always about supplyingthe goods, but also considering the effects that the suppliedproducts have on the users. The remaining sole supplier case invitesone to assess the impact of continuing the provision of heart deviceson the consumers, considering the associated regular device faultsresponsible for causing several deaths. The suppliers also haveethical obligations of meeting the interests of their clients, thatis, the parties in which they supply the products. The suppliersshould strive to ensure that their practices align with the goals ofthe clients. In essence, the suppliers have an ethical responsibilityof ensuring that their decisions do not hurt their customers. Forinstance, the ethical contract may imply that a vendor should notterminate the supply contract when such an act is expected to lead tothe collapse of the business of the client. The ethical issuepertaining to this point is whether the remaining sole suppliershould terminate the supply contract, even when the transistor supplydeal is part of the fault of heart assistive device. The ethicalissue further requires considering the benefits of having a businesscontinue running, even when some of its deals are sociallycounterproductive. In the convention, businesses exist for tworeasons: to meet the business goals of the owners, and to satisfy thedemand of the consumers (Shanks,2017).In this case, manufacturers of heart assistive devices are benefitingfrom the product sales — the economy can also be argued to bebenefitting. On the other hand, consumers have demands for the heartassistive device, albeit inherent regular faults — a demand thatneeds to be fulfilled by the manufacturers.

Badaracco`sfour-question framework is certainly relevant in addressing thedilemma. One of the questions to consider is which course of actionassure desirable outcomes? The second question is whether the actionis popular to other people? The third question is whether the plan isconsistent with personal values? The last question is which action isrelevant to the world? (Badaracco,1997).Relatingthis framework to the dilemma justifies for the need for the companyto continue supplying the heart-assistive devices despite theirfailures.

Question1: Which Course of Action Will Do the Most Good and the Least Harm?

Areflection on the issue creates the allowance to argue that theaction that would do the most good and the least harm would certainlybe the kind that would be guided by the consequentialism theory, andthat would certainly be for the supplying company to continuesupporting the device business.Question2: Which Alternative Best Serves Others` Rights, IncludingShareholders` Rights?

Inthis case, the best alternative that serves others’ rights,including the stakeholder is to continue supplying the heartassistive devices because they are in demand, while the essence oftheir existence is objective and oriented towards saving the lives ofthe patients with heart complications.

Question3: What Plan Can I live With, Which is Consistent With Basic Valuesand Commitments?

Theplan that I can live with, which is in line with thebasic values andcommitments is maximizing the happiness of all the persons involved.The decision is certainly oriented towards satisfying andguaranteeing happiness. I acknowledge that while moral values,virtues, and rules exist as a basic framework to guide one in makinginformed ethical decisions, they are not always flexible in assuringhappiness (Swanton,2012).In such cases, one may always break the rules just to guaranteedesirable outcomes. After all, the appropriateness of a decision isseldom judged based on the means of the actions, but theoutcomes.Question4: Which Course of Action is Feasible in the World as It Is?

Thebest course of action that is reasonable to the universal communityas it is the pragmatic kind, which is clearly tied to Machiavelli.The essence, core focus of pragmatism is the attempt to justify anaction based on its practicality and outcomes. The highlighted choicewould remain popular because it seeks to satisfy the interest of themany stakeholders involved.


Inconclusion, Badaracco presents some of the interesting insightsregarding the subject of ethics, which if embraced, will undoubtedlygo a long way in enabling one rise above the associated challenges.Reflection has provided an opportunity to see how defining momentshave revealed who I am as a decision-maker, tested my capacity on thestrengths and weaknesses as a decision-maker, and shaped myunderstanding of what ethics entails. To a great existent, the bookhas reinforced the view that the process of making ethical decisionsis never straightforward. Rather, it requires flexibility inthinking, yet the thinking should be oriented towards pragmatism andthe objectivity to maximize happiness. A reflection of my personalethical journey has revealed that the course of making decisions is,indeed, not a straightforward one and that I cannot be an all-roundethical person unless I learn and cultivate the values.


Badaracco,J. (1997). Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Rightand Right.Harvard Business Review Press

Russell,D. (2013). TheCambridge Companion to Virtue Ethics.New York: Cambridge University Press.

Shanks,T. (2017). The Case of the Sole Remaining Supplier. Retrieved fromhttps://www.scu.edu/ethics/focus-areas/business-ethics/resources/the-case-of-the-sole-remaining-supplier/

Swanton,C. (2012). VirtueEthics: a Pluralistic View.Oxford: Oxford University Press.