Ethics, especially business ethics has many different ways of looking at a situation. A recent announcement by Apple has raised the ethical question of whether or not their decision to move the production of the Mac Pro back to China is ethically right or wrong. Some would argue that it is right, while others would argue that more information is needed in order to truly decide.
Up until now the Mac Pro was the only product manufactured in the United States. The last model was built in a plant in Austin Texas, allowing each computer to have an 'assembled in the USA stamp', which was part of the company’s “$100-million Made-in-the-USA push.” Production in Texas cause many headaches; it was slowed and constrained the ability to meet demands of this computer, mainly because 80% of workers were contract employees who were paid for eight-hour days at minimum wage. They did not care about finishing the days’ work, rather they would leave and leave the lines running, causing production to stop and resume when the next shift arrived. Later in 2016, engineers proposed the idea of moving production back to Asia, because not only was it is cheaper, but the manufacturers have the skills required to build these products. (Kubota & Mickle, 2019)
The Mac Pro is a desktop computer with the “power to change everything.” It is a computer that is marketed towards business professionals, engineers, and designers who need “ultimate in CPU performance.” Apple claims that this Mac is extreme in every way. With the greatest performance, expansion, and configurability yet. It has many industry first features including its own cooling system, not just one but two powerful graphics cards, a second connector, high-speed connections, and eight PCI Express expansion slots. It also features new software, security and storage options. These features set this computer to be priced around $6000 without any accessories and is expected to hit the market in the fall of 2019. (Mac Pro)
Two theories of ethics prove that this business move is ethically correct - utilitarianism and individualism. Utilitarianism ethics is theory that determines ethical significance by looking at the consequences instead of the act itself; basically, if it is generally good for the most amount of people then it is ethically right and if it does not, then it is ethically wrong. This thinking causes utilitarian’s to be more pragmatic, believing no act is ever right or wrong in every situation. Individualism is the idea that the self-interest of one person is more important that the interest of an entire group. (DesJardins, 2014)
Within the utilitarian view of ethics, it could be argued that Apple moving production of the Mac Pro to China is ethically right. By moving production to a place where there are experts in assembling these computers, it is more efficient to import parts, and employees that are dedicated to their work, it means a faster production time and less expensive prices for consumers. These reasons alone are cause to believe that this production move provides the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Individualism would also argue that this business decision to restart production of the Mac Pro in China is ethically correct. This is because within individualism, the decision maker is only worried about how this move will affect him/her, not the other stakeholders involved. This move increases profit and production time, therefor it is an ethically correct decision.
Two other theories of ethics would argue that more information is needed in order to decide if these issues are ethically rights - Kantianism and Virtue Ethics . Kantianism is a theory of ethics that requires us to treat all people with respect. Virtue ethics asks questions about the type of person someone is or the type of act they perform. (DesJardins, 2014)
Kantianism and Virtue Theorists would question this business move to relocate the production of the new generation Mac Pro. They would question the condition in which the workers at the new facility are treated. If in fact they are treated fairly, then this issue would be ethically right, but if these workers are treated so poorly as an escape then it is ethically wrong.
DesJardins, J. R. (2014). An introduction to business ethics. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Kubota, Y., & Mickle, T. (2019, June 28). Apple Moves Mac Pro Production to China. Retrieved July 24, 2019, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-moves-mac-pro-production-to-china-11561728769
Mac Pro. (n.d.). Retrieved July 28, 2019, from https://www.apple.com/mac-pro/?&cid=wwa-us-kwgo-mac-slid---mac%2Bpro-e&mtid=20925top39173&aosid=p238&mnid=soIJ82Nn3-dc_mtid_20925top39173_pcrid_353336933486
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