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Business Ethics: The Martian
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Upon viewing the movie a while ago, certain ethical leadership skills can be drawn from
the movie. The Martian, on its debut in October 2015, grossed an amount close to 228 Million
dollars. This film was a worldwide sensation during its premiere, and I’ve always been quite
curious about what its content is. The fact that this movie is all about space is what motivated
me. Space is one interesting thing that has human beings exploring it for generations. Space
travel and exploration in America is entirely supportive, and it’s, therefore, motivating as it
instills patriotism and national pride. The worth of the exploration of space is quite important.
The citizens in America have different views on NASA, but I believe that it’s a good investment
that would constantly quench man’s curiosity and I am extremely optimistic about the future of
space exploration. That is the reason behind this choice of film.
The story line behind the movie starts with a crew of the Ares III mission to Mars,
exploring Acidalia Planitia on Martian solar day expedition in the year 2035. To be honest, it
sounds frightening but at the same time brave. On their expedition, Mars being prone to strong
dust storms, they were faced with a dust storm, and they had to evacuate therefore aborting their
mission. In the process of their excavation, Mark Watney, an astronaut, is hit by debris and he
gets lost in the sandstorm. As the team looks for him through the suit, there is no response. The
crew believes that he is dead and the commander, Melissa, is forced to abort and return to their
orbiting vessel, therefore, evacuating Mars (The Martian, 2015).
Mark manages to survive the storm and awakens to the sound of a low oxygen warning,
and he heads to the habitat, which was the crew’s base of control and operations. He is injured
and he, therefore, performs a self-surgery due to the damage by the piece of the antenna which
ended up damaging his torso. He later documents his experience and learns that the only means
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of survival is to be at the Schiaparelli crater to meet with the Ares IV crew which is four years
He immediately starts to calculate the chances of his survival during that time. He
narrows down to the concern that the food supply won’t be enough. Mark being a botanist, he
devises a way to grow plants inside the Hab. He uses human waste as his manure for the
fertilization of the Martian soil. He produces a way for water formation and uses the potatoes
intended for Thanksgiving. He prepares the rover for the long journey ahead. On Earth, NASA
presumes he is dead and holds a funeral for him. Mindy Park, a satellite planner, notices certain
evidenced of Mark’s survival on Mars. The heads of NASA, Teddy, Annie, and Vincent release
the new found information to the public but fail to inform the Ares III crew fearing the jeopardy
of their mission (The Martian, 2015).
Mark, later on, finds a way to communicate with Earth by taking the rover to recover the
Pathfinder probe which stopped functioning in 1997. NASA directs Mark to modify the rover’s
code to link with Pathfinder for effective communication. Mark is devastated when he finds out
that his crew hasn’t been informed of his survival after all that time, but the crew is notified soon
after. NASA back on Earth arranges for Watney to receive a space probe that would deliver
enough supplies to last until the Ares IV arrives. Although due to a malfunction on both sides,
NASA and the Hab back at Mars, Mark’s crops are destroyed leaving him to think that he’s
going to die and the rocket at NASA with the supplies had a malfunction that caused an
explosion (The Martian, 2015).
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The Taiyang Shen is offered by the China National Space Administration that could
deliver the supplies to Mars. An aerodynamicist, Rich, comes up with a plan that would divert
the Hermes back to Mars but with the addition of 566 days more. The director of NASA refuses
but the team votes against it and decides to get Mark.
Mark, on the other hand, begins the 90-sol journey to the Schiaparelli Carter. For Watney
to accurately connect with the Hermes, he has to disorient the components from the MAV to
lighten it. Due to a few malfunctions, the Hermes and Watney cannot meet pushing the crew to
take on dangerous measures. Mark is however rescued and reunited with the team. Watney, later
on, becomes a survival trainer for astronaut applicants and five years later, the Ares V mission is
launched successfully (The Martian, 2015).
What virtues does astronaut Watney demonstrate?
Themes behind the film The Martian have always been special. They reveal to us how
humanity can operate when we give it our all and reach out to the farthest of our capabilities.
This shows that no matter how much wrong happens in the world, there will always be a chance
for the opportunity for good and through working together, great minds can achieve great things
for the benefit of the future or the deal at hand. Based on the outstanding adaptation of the novel,
the film showed us more to Watney and his strong positive character that relied on holding on
and continuous resourcefulness (Jones & Parker, 2005).
One of the virtues demonstrated by Watney include perseverance, and some of the
principles learned, in association with leadership include, knowing and acknowledging the
situation that is at hand. Making sense of the situation, analyze the options, choosing and
developing a strategic plan which might not be the easiest, identify the strengths and weaknesses
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and factors that go in line with the right values. Develop an inspirational vision for the ones
involves and learn how to rely and depend on each other when the going gets tough. Mark didn’t
let any misfortunes hold him back as he insisted on moving forward regardless of the situation
and keeping in mind the big picture of his survival as a motivating factor (Machan, 2007).
Perseverance is the shining light that keeps us in check during our goal pursuing in life.
Not everything will be perfect and, therefore, there will be mistakes and wrong turns made.
Watney taught us that there will always be hope to move forward to achieve the goals set
regardless of the situation. This film places the notion that anything can happen in an impossible
environment and the fact that being in a difficult position helps in accomplishing the task.
Innovation benefits the society and inspires the notion that there will always be overwhelming
amounts of chances and there are great minds and personalities that would see it through (Jones
& Parker, 2005).
Mark identifies with the situation that he is and apparently sees the bright side of it.
When he finds himself alive, he sees that his injury apparently saved his life. He later makes
meaning of the situation. At this point, this would require the strongest to create that inner
meaning. He later chooses the best alternative after reviewing and calculating his opportunities,
and he goes with the one that will benefit him in the long-term. He then creates an inspirational
image that would motivate him to do whatever it takes, regardless of the outcomes. Through
teamwork, Watney relies on the team and they work together (Bevan, 2008).
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Was the NASA director justified in withholding information about Watney’s survival from
the Aries crew?
Not really. Okay, I admit that coming from the director’s point of view; he may have
been considering all the input, resources, and effort that were used to ensure the success of the
mission of Ares III to Mars. Also the fact that the director would have been coming from a
selfish point where he thought that telling the rest of the crew would distract them from their
The director at first would have considered the crew because leaving a mark on Mars on
the assumption that he was dead was difficult decision for them as well. Also, mentioning the
guilt weighing on his conscience for the rest of his life due to choosing to leave a man behind on
a foreign planet and all in the name of following orders. If Henderson hadn’t sent the details to
Hermes surreptitiously, it would mean that Watney was doomed for disaster on Mars. This
means that due to that disobedient act, it saved Mark’s life.
Was it Ethical for the mission director to disobey his boss and leak information to the Ares
Moral, ethical principles are universal. While making a decision, a leader must use his
gut and conscious. In the Martina, Teddy displayed two accounts of not using the moral and
ethical code of making decisions as a leader and on his behavior. The first instance is when we
suggested that the Ares III crew not to be informed of the survival of Mark on Mars and when he
was against the use of the Chinese booster to resupply the Hermes for the additional 566 days on
account of saving a life. He argued that it was risky for the crew because it was unplanned. The
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mission director sends the details to Hermes behind Teddy’s back, therefore, leading to the crew
voting to save mark thus rendering them powerless (Machan, 2007).
A leader should be sensitive and considerate to the difficult situations of other people. In
an ethical situation, a leader should never speak or do anything without reviewing the content as
beautiful, true and meaningful. A leader should have a vision, which in this case, the director of
NASA was well equipped with although he failed on the consideration part. Therefore, it was a
necessary evil for the mission director to disobey orders, but it was for a good cause which
indeed helped and was a meaningful one (Duska, 2007).
Was the rescue of a single astronaut worth risking the lives of the rest of the crew? Would
you feel the same if the mission had failed?
Ethical leadership leads to sacrifice for the greater good of others. So yes, the rescue of a
single astronaut was worth risking the lives of the rest of the crew. Every life counts. In this
situation, the risk was somehow great because there were several chances of failure in the
retrieval of Mark. Through the saving of Mark, there was the development of the survival
program in training for astronauts. This led to the formulation of solutions to any astronaut who
would find themselves in that situation. The risk was worth it because the commander of Ares III
had a mission and crew to take care of and that meant all of them. Therefore, it meant that the
leader or the commander, in this case, had an obligation to do so. A leader should be able to find
solutions to any threatening situation. Thus, it meant that for the leader to be rendered ethical and
with morals, he had an obligation to take care of their own, and therefore that meant the retrieval
of Mark (Duska, 2007).
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In films or books such as the Martian, they inspire imagination and hope. If the mission
would have failed, in the retrieval of Mark from Mars, it would have been devastating. Imagine
all the horrible things that could happen if Mark was left in space with no way of returning. All
through the hard work and sacrificial actions done by the crew, the mission had chances of
failure, but they did it regardless. Failure in an ethical stance, means changing strategy and
looking for other solutions to solve the problem. A person with a conscience wouldn’t be the
same after witnessing a fail in an important mission. It’s a film, yes, but if the risky rescue
mission of Mark had failed, it would be moving in a frustrating, depressing way. This might
mean that even though the world is your mirror, not everything works out as planned.
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Bevan, D. (2008).Philosophy: A Grounded Theory Approach and the Emergence of Convenient
and Inconvenient Ethics. Cutting Edge Issues in Business Ethics M. Painter-Morland and
P. Werhane. Boston, Springer.
Duska R. (2007). Contemporary Reflections on Business Ethics. Boston: Springer.
Jones & Parker, M. (2005). For Business Ethics: A Critical Text. London: Routledge.
Machan, T. R. (2007). The Morality of Business: A Profession for Human Wealthcare. Boston:
“The Martian (2015)”. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 13, 2016