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Lockheed Martin’s Corporate Ethics Case Study

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Updated: Jun 13th, 2020

Lockheed Martin is the corporation that occurred as the result of Lockheed Corporation and Martin Marietta merging. It is a large corporation that has about thirteen thousands of employees. Lockheed Martin is one of the most prominent representatives of the US Defense industry. One of the distinct features of the company’s strategy has been the attempt to create a socially approved corporate image. The best way to develop this positive image is the compliance with the laws and ethics. Therefore, Lockheed Martin has strived to stick to the high standards of ethical and legal organizational behavior by applying various methods and programs that have led to the controversial outcomes.

For any company in the Defense industry politics is of the primary importance because it has deep connections with the economy and, therefore, profitability. Together with this, Lockheed Martin paid a lot of attention to the development of the ethics programs with the main purpose of establishment of the socially-friendly behavior. The company emphasized the compliance with the legislation but has paid great attention to the creation of values and value-based strategies. When the company is managed with the value-based approach, it seems to be more efficient when talking about the regulations and control policies.

When the employees are simply obligated to obey some external rules, there is a lack of motivation and inspiration to follow these rules. Although the employees can be aware of the punishment for the violations and the management can make efforts to detect and prevent the illegal behavior, the results still will be less efficient than when staff members are motivated by the shared values that provoke bonding and stimulate the intentional compliance to regulations and laws. Therefore, the values provoke the employees’ self-discipline and contribute to the development of the sound working environment.

Ethical business conduction and the inner organizational ethics has been regarded by Lockheed Martin management and executives as of the greatest significance, and they have made “a conscious and sustained effort to make ethics an integral part of Lockheed Martin’s ‘value’ as a corporation” (Terris 3). The company arranged a variety of programs and contributed a lot to the employees’ education and raising awareness of ethical and legal issues. Lockheed Martin hired about sixty-five ethics officers who have been responsible for the constant monitoring of the efficiency of the ethical program and detecting the defects in it. They also are responsible for the employees’ consultation and resolving and evaluation of all the ethical incidents in the organization. Lockheed Martin’s great efforts, the constant improvements, and consideration of the previous mistakes and experiences allowed the elaboration of the excellent programs that consolidated the values and organizational and social integrity.

Lockheed Martin’s programs have addressed the matters of mutual respect and trust, responsibility, and organizational citizenship. These concepts became the basis for the organizational ethics. The open communication, the responsible attitude towards the work, and the perfect obedience to the laws were aimed at the development of a positive working environment. Moreover, the value of corporate citizenship that implies the high level of self-regulation can be regarded as the expression of the attempt to represent itself as a good American citizen and to increase the social approval and integrity.

Although the company’s focus on ethical approach evidently has many positive outcomes, especially in the organizational culture itself, the integrity of Lockheed Martin’s values with the values of the American society hasn’t been accomplished to its full extent. “The corporation’s quest to be seen as an active force for good in American life remains, at best, incomplete” (Terris 117). The reason for this is in the American citizens’ overall perspective on corporate behavior, especially in large organizations, such as Lockheed Martin. Since the corporation’s programs were addressed primarily to individuals and their personal experience, Lockheed Martin failed to address the issues of systematic organizational behavior.

“When it comes to addressing the moral character of the corporation’s leaders, the conduct of the corporation toward its customers and competitors, the company’s treatment of its employees, its impact on its various communities, and the ethical considerations regarding the profit within its industry, Lockheed Martins’ programs leave major questions untouched” (Terris 117). Therefore, the programs were effective in the creation of the organizational and cultural integrity within Lockheed Martin’s numerous departments and branches across the USA. Nevertheless, the lack of consideration of the ethical issues from the wider point of view provokes the lack of public trust.

Lockheed Martin’s programs need to develop more efficient strategies for prevention and response to future ethical dilemmas and conflicts. Currently, the organization primarily deals with the ethical issues that have already happened in the past. Although the examination of the past incidents helps to acquire experience, there is still a tremendous possibility for the unexpected challenges emergence.

The lack of predictability is one of the programs’ weaknesses, and it is significant is underlined by the fact that the Lockheed Martin’s leaders are those who usually participate in the ethical scandals. The leaders regarded as the representatives of the company by the public. Therefore, the executives need to be integrated with the organizational culture and share the values equally to all the staff members. The leadership’s failure to stick to the rules of the ethical conduct impugns the whole effort to be a good corporate citizen.

Lockheed Martin’s ethical programs need to involve the training and education of the organization’s top leaders. It could be useful to create a special program for those who are in charge and organizational governance with the emphasis on the ethical and legal violations, the leaders’ responsibilities, and duties. The better engagement of the Lockheed Martin’s Leaders in the organizational programs would contribute to the more efficient incidents prevention and development of strategies. It would increase the level of public credibility as well. However, the total success in efforts to be regarded as a good corporate citizen would be achieved only in case Lockheed Martin addresses the ethical issues of a wider range.

The results of the Lockheed Martin’s ethical programs are controversial: some goals were achieved, but the others failed to come to success. The values of responsibility, citizenship, and trust helped to consolidate the integrity within the corporation. The company has faced many incidents of the leaders’ unethical conduct that harm Lockheed Martin’s positive image as the American corporate citizen. It jeopardizes the efficiency of the ethical programs as well because of the lack of the leading control makes the prevention of the ethical incidents a difficult task. Therefore, the involvement of the executives in the Lockheed Martin’s programs, the increase in the sense of responsibility, and raise of awareness could have positive impacts on the variety of aspects of this issue.

Works Cited

Terris, Daniel. Ethics at Work: Creating Virtue in an American Corporation, Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2005. Print.

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