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Articles on Ethics

While culture enables sustained collective action by providing people with a similarity of approach, outlook, and priorities, these same shared values norms, and assumptions can also be a source of danger if they blind the collective to vital issues or factors important to performance that lie outside the bounds of organizational perception. Cultural blind spots can lead an organization down the wrong path, sometimes with dire performance consequences.

Karl E Weick & Kathleen M. Sutcliffe 2003

“Moral person and moral manager: how executives develop a reputation for ethical leadership”, by Linda Klebe Trevino, Laura Pincus Hartman and Michael Brown (California Management Review, Summer 2000, p 128-142), commences, “Plato asked, which extreme would you rather be: “an unethical person with a good reputation or an ethical person with a reputation for injustice?” Plato might have added, “or would you rather be perceived as ethically neutral–someone who has no ethical reputation at all?” Plato knew that reputation was important. We now understand that reputation and others’ perceptions of you are key to executive ethical leadership. Those others include employees at all levels as well as key external stakeholders.” The authors assert, “A reputation for ethical leadership rests upon two essential pillars: perceptions of you as both a moral person and a moral manager.”

Hanover Street, North End, Boston, Mass (More)

Paul F Buller; John J Kohls & Kenneth S Anderson, in “When Ethics Collide: Managing Conflicts Across Cultures” (Organizational Dynamics 28 (4), p 52-66, 2000), discuss human right issues where countries may appear to endorse practices at variance with those of the country of the parent country and provides a decision-making model to address conflicts. The authors conclude that when top managers value ethics the organization engages in a collaborative learning process with employees, suppliers and customers, the HR management practices are designed to build and sustain an ethical climate in selection and performance appraisal and in compensation and recognition systems. They give a particularly interesting example of a situation in Bangladesh concerning child labour.

In “Ethical Consulting does not have to be an Oxymoron” (Organizational Dynamics 28 (4), p 38-51, 2000) Lee M Ozley and Achilles A Armenakis assert that a truly independent consultant/client relationship is one in which the consultant only does for the client “what they cannot and/or will not do for themselves” and the consultant and client mutually agree on what those are. The consultant and the client must mutually work to maintain this relationship of cooperation, participation, coaching and facilitating.

A report by Priyanka Banerji (HCL Technologies, Noida, India) and Venkat R Krishnan (Xavier Labour relations Institute, Jamshedpur, India) on “Ethical preferences of transformational leaders: an empirical investigation” (Leadership & Organization Development Journal 21(8), p 405-413, 2000) reveal interesting correlations between preferences for unethical behaviour including bribery, favouritism, lying and personal gain. The study is based on a sample of 100 pairs of managers and subordinates from four multinational companies in India. One of the conclusions is that transformational leadership is unlikely to raise the level of human conduct and ethical aspiration of both leader and follower.