Identify the three steps in the Individual Ethical Decision-Making Process and discuss how characteristics of individuals and organizations can influence our ethical behavior
When making ethical decisions, a variety of steps must be followed; although the first three actions should be analyzed in detail. Thus, the first step an individual is to rely on is to gather the facts. It is necessary to remember that jumping to conclusions without the facts can lead to negative consequences. The second step involves defining the ethical issues (one is to ask himself or herself: does a problem really exist? What are the key causes of a problem?).
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So, there is a strong need to consider the ethical dilemma or problem in detail; the right decision depends upon an individual’s ability to focus on the most important problem at a time. Identifying direct/indirect stakeholders is also important, as seeing things on the third hand allows identifying the ethical dilemma in a proper way. Identifying the potential outcomes, actions, justice issues, and considering cognitive biases and opposite views are the most appropriate steps an individual is to follow before jumping to solutions. When making ethical decisions, it is necessary to remain open, as well as keep skills current.
When speaking about the characteristics of individuals and their impact on our ethical behavior, it is necessary to point out that ethical behavior depends upon a person’s moral awareness and moral judgment.
Moral awareness gives a person an opportunity to understand the moral nature of the ethical problem or dilemma and to make certain conclusions on the issue (moral judgment). Both – moral awareness and moral judgment depend upon moral development. This involves pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional stages. Organizations can influence our ethical behavior through reward systems, group norms and roles, authority figures, organizational culture and diffusion of responsibility.
“Government regulations force corporations to be ethical by making certain behaviors illegal”. Discuss this statement from the perspective of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act – why it was created and what it regulates
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act appeared in 2002. One of the key purposes of its creation was organizational ethics improvement. As far as the Act encourages whistleblowing and honest behavior, one can conclude that making certain behaviors illegal can be regarded as a punishable offence. The Act was created to reveal codes of ethics for all stakeholders. Keeping in mind that most of firms try to “legislate” ethical behavior, and their attempts are recognized to be inappropriate and ineffective, no wonder that government regulations caused more illegal behavior, as according to Laufer (1999) “firms can adopt a compliance program that provides the benefits of a mitigated sentence under the sentencing guidelines without actually changing the firm’s operations” (p. 1405-1406). Fraud reducing is also considered to be one of the major aims of the Act.
As far as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act encourages whistleblowing, one can notice that employees can experience the ethical dilemma: whether to blow the whistle or no. It should be noted that the decision depends upon three variables, namely: an individual’s attitude to the things, which can be defined as appropriate and inappropriate, a subjective norm, and an individual’s perceived behavioral control. The first variable involves a person’s behavioral expectations on potential consequences. The second determinant includes the social pressure (thus, an individual is deeply concerned about his colleagues’ viewpoints and cannot take any decision without third persons’ approvement). The last variable involves an individual’s past experiences. It is necessary to point out that the variables are considered to be rather relative; an individual’s intentions seem to be mostly affected by certain circumstances. For instance, social pressures individuals may face can differ; therefore, individuals’ behaviors can also vary.
Often employees are faced with a difficult ethical dilemma and may need to consider whether or not to blow the whistle. When might an employee be justified in blowing the whistle and how they do so responsibly?
Whistleblowing is considered to be rather contradictive issue, as it reflects a conflict between the duties of an individual in relation to an organization he or she works at and a common duty of an individual in relation to other individuals. A balancing of a wide range of duties may help understand when telling the authorities on somebody’s illegal actions, etc. can be morally justified. Whistleblowing is recognized to be morally problematic, as it causes conflict of interest. In other words, one can conclude that whistleblowing can be regarded as a threat to employees interests, employer interests, and social interests. Conflict of obligation also takes place.
To reveal the cases, when whistleblowing can be morally justified, the following issues should be taken into account:
- first of all it is necessary to consider potential harm whistleblowing can bring about;
- if an individual can provide the authorities with adequate evidence and understands the importance of all the facts, there is a chance that a whistle blower will succeed;
- it is necessary not only to know a person to whom some significant data can be revealed, but also how much data must be revealed. Thus, Ronald F. White (n.d.) is of the opinion that “Blowing the whistle in a responsible manner avoids charges of being merely a disgruntled employee” (p. 12);
- an individual must be well familiar with his or her responsibilities in relation to an organization he or she works at;
- finally, there is a need to evaluate the chances for success.
Whistle blowers are protected by government. Thus, existing legal protections involve the Whistle-Blower Protection Act of 1989, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, etc.
What is moral judgment, what influences it and how might we improve our ability to morally judge ethical situations?
Moral judgment is considered to be a kind of reasoning, when an individual tries to find morally right approaches toward certain things, etc. It should be pointed out that moral judgment is closely related to moral development. Moral development includes three levels, and each level involves two stages. Thus, preconventional level of moral development involves reaction to punishment and seeking of rewards. Conventional level is based on morality of a good person as well as law and order morality. Postconventional level includes social-contract orientation and universal ethical principle orientation.
One is to keep in mind that moral development influences moral judgment. Individuals try to behave ethically on the basis of different reasons. Most of individuals rely on moral judgment to avoid punishment or to get some rewards. In other words, such individuals experience preconventional level of moral development. Many individuals try to behave ethically, in order to be good citizens or to be responsive in relation to other individuals. Very few of individuals rely on moral judgment to do right things.
The key elements of moral judgment involve moral obligation, moral evaluation, moral imagination, moral competence, moral disagreement, and moral identification.
To improve an individual’s ability to morally judge ethical situations, it is necessary to change the modes of thought. In other words, individuals are to reconsider the ways they make ethical decisions. An individual should be deeply concerned about the ways he or she behaves within the ethics domain. A variety of ethical dilemmas an individual may face should be analyzed in a proper way; so, an individual is to rely on morally correct approaches. Generally, it must be noted that moral judgment improvement depends upon an individual’s stage of moral development.
What steps can a manager take to effectively manage ethics in his or her department?
The steps a manager can take to effectively manage ethics in his or her department are of wide range; although there is a strong need to remember that trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship are considered to be the most appropriate traits a manager is to possess. As far as employees should follow their manager’s example, a manager’s behavior seems to be of particular importance.
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To effectively manage ethics, a manager is to understand that decisions he or she makes are to be logically grounded. The conclusions should not be made on the fly. Goals clarification is another important step effective management requires. Thus, when specifying the goals, an individual should consider them on a priority basis. The short-term goals and the long-term ones must be identified. Facts determination is needed to analyze the most reliable sources individuals can work with. In other words, an individual is to define what information is of particular concern, and what points from a wide range of sources can be neglected.
Developing options is also an important step, as it gives an opportunity to consider a variety of potential solutions. A manager should show employees the importance of consequences analysis. Different decisions bring about different outcomes; for this reason, the decisions which can lead to the most beneficial consequences must be taken into account. Furthermore, when taking the decision, it is necessary to think about the steps the most ethical person in an organization would follow. Finally, if decisions cause no positive results, it is necessary to think about the most appropriate ways which can be followed to change the situation. A manager is to encourage a moral judgment is his or her department.
Laufer, W. (1999). Corporate Liability, Risk Shifting, and the Paradox of Compliance. 54 Vand. L. Rev., 1343, 1405–06.
White, R. (n.d.). Whistle-Blowing. Msj.edu. Web.