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Case Study BP Texas Refinery Introduction According to Lewicki Saunders Minton 2003 adopting an unethical approach to negotiation in business can have serious consequences A recent explosion at the British Petroleum BP Texas refinery on 24 March 2005 reiterated this and demonstrated the effect of an unethical approach to negotiation with the death of 15 contract workers Ethical behaviour refers to the standards of conduct such as honesty fairness responsibility and trust Lewicki et al 2003 These standards are broadly applied and determine whether a course of action is right or wrong in a given situation Lewicki et al 2003 According to Es 1955 advocates of the absolutist position hold a rigid view of what is right and wrong In contrast a relativist approach would suggest ethical behaviour be contingent in nature therefore having no set definition of what is right and wrong History is fraught with examples of unethical behaviour from Nazi Germany of 1945 to recent atrocities in the Balkans and Rwanda However in those instances there was no negotiation involved There are also numerous examples of unethical behaviour adopted in negotiation that have occurred in modern society These have ranged from large scale unethical business issues such as the recent BP Texas refinerys failure on safety provisions Patricks wharf workers incident and the Hardies asbestos compensation dispute to smaller everyday unscrupulous business dealings Research into ethics and negotiation is primarily focused towards examining the standard of truth Lewicki et al 2003 Attempting to define truth raises a number of controversial issues For example what constitutes a lie and are there situations where not telling the truth may be considered acceptable or even necessary Lewicki et al 2003 pp167 The inherent competitive nature of most negotiating situations would suggest a certain degree of deceptive behaviour was a necessary component of negotiating Friedman Shapiro 1995 Thus ethical negotiation becomes a question of distinguishing those behaviours which are
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