There is no clear consensus on whether management is a science or a craft. Recognizing management as a profession and enforcing strictly defined professional standards may promote the former approach but will not be easy to implement. A managerial code of conduct based on the stakeholder theory and enforced by a professional association could potentially increase management’s social responsibility, but it will take time to do so.
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Envisaging the code of conduct for managers is inextricably linked to making management a profession in the truest sense of the word. This perspective has its basis in the difference between leadership and management. While leaders have followers and may operate in any context, managers are only managers insofar as they have employees and occupy a corresponding position. Since the definition of management describes a professional arrangement, management can definitely “strive to become a profession” (Khurana & Nohria, 2008, p. 72). If one accepts this idea, one should also agree that management should embrace a professional code of conduct. It may be based on such prominent concepts of business ethics as corporate social responsibility and stakeholder theory, stressing the manager’s obligations to society at large rather than the enterprise alone (Freeman & Dmytriyev. 2017). Enforcing these codes would require creating professional associations that would establish and maintain educational standards as well as monitor pertinent ethical issues through peer review (Ibrahim, 2016). Yet even if all these suggestions come to pass, it will still take years for a new generation of managers to emerge and make a difference.
To summarize, the idea of making management a proper profession is not without merit. There are theoretical underpinnings for it, and practical models of enforcing codes of conduct in other professions. However, this transformation is bound to take a long time for the new institutional practices to settle and start making an impact.
Freeman, R. E., & Dmytriyev, S. (2017) Corporate social responsibility and stakeholder theory: Learning from each other. Symphonya: Emerging Issues in Management, 17(1). Web.
Ibrahim. L. Y. (2016). Ethical issues and professional code of conduct as moral and social obligations for sports management practitioners in Nigeria: A paperwork. European Journal of Physical Education and Sport Science, 2(3), 15-28.
Khurana, R., & Nohria, N. (2008). It’s time to make management a true profession. Harvard Business Review, 86(10), 70-77.