Managerial Ethics & Social Responsibility

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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Ethics and ethical behavior are difficult to touch upon, especially in current times when institutions are riddled with corruption, and driven by desire for money and power. We live in an environment where acting ethically for the sake of dignity can cost a person their job, family, and in extreme cases, their life.

You may have heard about the tweet that cost Elon Musk billions of dollars. Musk tweeted, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” This message caused Musk’s actions to send the stock market into a frenzy, increasing by more than 10 percent on the first day.

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Although it boosted the value of the shares on the Stock Exchange, this was not necessarily good.

This was already reflected in the stock market a few days after the incident, as its stock fell about 5 percent. However, the problem is not only losing the capitalization that had been won in recent days, but also the possible sanctions by the SEC. Furthermore, Tesla could be affected not only in the image of the brand, but in rare cases, also in operation, due to a post perceived as unethical. Musk valued Tesla at $420 per share, which translates into $71 billion, according to CNBC. Musk’s net worth is based on Tesla shares, therefore his reputation and capital are tied to the company as well. Tesla declined in a matter of two months from $20 billion to roughly $500 million, according to Forbes. All this was due to Musk’s unethical use of social media. We know that the CEOs of big brands not only direct but also serve as ambassadors, since the public relations they conduct through media and social networks have become the strengths and weaknesses of the firms they lead. In this case, they have had a negative effect.

Musk made a potentially misleading statement about taking Tesla private due to alleged sufficient funds, which caused the market to move drastically. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched an investigation to analyze and determine if Musk’s statements on Twitter are truthful and not an attempt to falsely market Tesla’s impact on the markets, thereby increasing the capitalization value of the company. The dispute resulted in a $40 million settlement with the federal government. In Musk’s words, the settlement was “worth it,” according to Business Insider, due to the exposure his company received.

Unethical behavior can be legal but not ethical; in this case, I believe that’s what happened. This message caused the actions of Musk to send the stock market soaring by more than 10 percent, which I believe is a genius strategy. The way he manipulated social media in order to increase his stock within a matter of hours was highly strategic. In principle, it becomes important to reflect on the meaning of ethics. Ethics is the discipline that deals with what is morally good or bad, or right or wrong. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, there is a ‘natural moral conscience’ that allows human beings to intuit their moral obligations. This awareness is based on fundamental principles of obligations that human beings must fulfill, regardless of the consequences that might result from their actions. According to Kant, moral actions must be based on a ‘supreme principle of morality’ that is objective, rational, and freely chosen. However, the consequences that certain acts can cause cannot be ignored. Only the final result of an action determines its moral character. According to Hobbes, anyone would be better off living in a world ruled by moral rules than in one without them. Such rules are those that allow civilized coexistence. The minimum requirements of a civic ethic are based on the values of freedom, equality, and solidarity, focusing on the autonomy of individuals to decide for themselves how they want to pursue happiness.

Now, with the idea that social management intervenes and directly impacts a social group, which has rights, needs, expectations and deserves respect, the action of the social manager must always be marked by an ethical attitude. In this, they should excel at values such as searching for the common good, as opposed to an individualistic vision, and the pursuit of equity. At the end of the day, the principal moral responsibility of the social supervisor is to seek social change that prompts increasingly impartial, inclusive, and fair social orders in the decision process.

Fottrell, Q. (2018, October 01). Elon Musk’s tweets cost him $20 million-here are 5 of the costliest tweets ever. Retrieved from
Ferris, R. (2018, August 09). Tesla weighs taking company private, but no decisions made yet. Retrieved from
Matousek, M. (2018, August 13). ‘It was, at best, hasty and naive, and, at worst, manipulative’: Experts slam Elon Musk’s confusing defense of why he tweeted ‘funding secured’. Retrieved from
del Carmen González Vega, A. M. (2018). Repensando la responsabilidad social y ética empresarial. Una revisión del pensamiento de Gilles Lipovetsky. Gestión y Estrategia, (53), 83–91.

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Managerial Ethics & Social Responsibility. (2022, Aug 18). Retrieved from