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Business Ethics- Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and the Categorical Imperative by Kant


Samsung is one of the leading electronic-manufacture companies on devices like smartphones, refrigerators, microwaves, televisions, sound systems, and electronic chargers, among other electronics. Widely it’s known for the quality phones it has been producing and hence its a success. However, the company faced a major downfall in 2016 after some customers reported that one of its products (Galaxy Note 7) exploded due to faulty casings and batteries. However, Samsung professionally took the situation by first accepting their mistake of replacing over two million phones globally with improved Galaxy Note 7s. This greatly aligns with the Kantian approach to ethics and central principles like the categorical imperative and organizational culture. This essay will discuss how the categorical imperative could be part of the corporate culture. Additionally, it will explore if categorical imperative can be effective in the business context. The personal relevance of the categorical imperative, especially regarding individual interests and career aspirations, will be discussed in the essay.

The Categorical Imperative and Organizational Culture

Immanuel Kant argued the categorical imperative as a moral principle that calls for people to act based on maxims they would wish for to be universal laws. By adopting this crucial principle, organizations will likely have some essential traits like promoting ethical decision-making, a sense of moral duty, and maintaining the rights and well-being of different stakeholders (Robinson 39-62). Samsung followed this principle when it took responsibility for producing faulty products. This showed that the company adhered to the categorical imperative after being concerned about its customers’ satisfaction and safety.

Categorical imperative might be a part of organizational culture in various ways. One of the key ways it can be achieved is through ethical leadership. Any organization with ethical leadership is likely to succeed and achieve this. Leaders and managers adhere to ethical principles, which motivate junior employees also to follow these ethical principles. Additionally, it is essential to have an ethical decision-making process to encourage employees to reflect on the potential consequences of their choice of actions. It also calls for justice and fairness in making decisions. Adopting clear values and a code of conduct could also be vital. This is by having ethical guidelines with values that will act as a reference in decision-making and monitoring the behavior of everyone in the organization. The categorical imperative can be used in company culture to promote an ethical atmosphere where decisions are guided by moral obligation and the long-term welfare of everyone involved rather than just immediate benefits.

Applicability of the Categorical Imperative in Business

The categorical imperative can be applicable in a business context. However, there may be challenges while applying it due to conflicting interests and the complexity of the decision-making process. The categorical imperative, like the stakeholder-oriented approach, long-term perspective, and ethical supply chain management, can be used.

Ethical supply chain management is applied when the business is keen to affirm that everyone’s practice in the business or relationships in the supply chain aligns with ethical principles identified by the business. This could include responsible sourcing and fair labor practices. On the other hand, the stakeholder-oriented approach further expands all stakeholders. Stakeholders have everyone related to the business, including shareholders, suppliers, consumers, junior and senior employees, and the surrounding community. All stakeholders should be involved in the business’s decision-making and treated with respect. A long-term perspective emphasizes ethical business practices that look beyond immediate rewards to consider activities’ long-term effects.

Personal Relevance of the Categorical Imperative

The categorical imperative is influential and hence applicable to personal or individual interest and hope for a career. This is influenced mainly by individual actions and the decision-making process. The categorical imperative principles may act as a reference for decision-making and monitoring ethical conduct (Armstrong 6-17). One can have the chance of selecting and evaluating the moral implications of their actions. As a result, one can also treat other people with maximum respect. It can also be a hope for a career as it gives a person some important attributes like social responsibility, ethical considerations, integrity, and leadership with influence. These are important in professional growth and hence advance in career development.


In a nutshell, as elaborated by Kantian, Samsung’s bold move of replacing the defective Galaxy Note 7 phones that had been reported as exploding relates to applying the categorical imperative in organizational culture. The categorical imperative can be achieved through ethical leadership, adapting an ethical decision-making process, and adopting clear values and a code of conduct. It is applicable in business through various means like stakeholder-oriented approach, long-term perspective, and ethical supply chain management. It can also be relevant for personal interest and career growth.

Works Cited

Armstrong, Anona. “Ethics and ESG.” Australasian Accounting, Business and Finance Journal 14.3 (2020): 6-17.

Robinson, Richard M. “Chapter 3: The Categorical Imperative Process and Moral Duties.” Business Ethics: Kant, Virtue, and the Nexus of Duty: Foundations and Case Studies. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2021. 39-62


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