especially Organizational Ethics, and how it relates
to economics and politics
2 May 03
issues essentially involve
the exercise of human choice and the prospects of achieving
shared purposes. All values and principles can be tracked
to just these two aspects of the human experience. Ethical
issues that rise to the level of policy, in an organizational
context, involve significant harm or benefit to self or
others. Developing notions of social responsibility and
business ethics, among all of the concerns of applied ethics,
are inseparable from the ethical issues that permeate organizational
of ethics is to rationalize morality and provide
a set of values and rules to guide the choices and actions
of individual human beings within a larger community. Organizational
ethics is concerned with the structures, systems, practices,
and protocols necessary for a given organization, in
a given context, to inspire, encourage, support, and
require its stakeholders, as appropriate, to abide by its
values and rules in order to achieve their shared purposes.
ethics of purpose is the sense that in organizational
life what is good and what is evil can be derived from the
shared purposes of the organization and its stakeholders.
is an evolutionary exercise in self-understanding aimed
at that union of harmony, intensity and vividness that involves
the perfection of importance for that occasion. It can be
viewed as either constructive or constraining, but we see
it as an essential process toward self-realization. Human
beings and societies are evolving members of an evolving
world, and as such, neither the peak nor the end of all
evolution. With our power to influence evolution, "to
learn" is a fundamental ethical imperative.
has evolved. At first, it was concerned with relations
between individuals. Later ethics dealt with the relation
between the individual and society. The latest step in the
evolution of ethics is the human being's relation to the
land, and the animals and plants that grow on it. In a sense,
ethics is beginning to return to the cultural morality of
connection to the world with which we evolved. more
is both a reasoned and an emotional aspect to ethics.
There is a temptation to try to reduce ethics to simple
awareness, multiple step decision-making models, or sets
of principles. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Ethics and policy engagement is an inherently complex endeavor
requiring attention to the full range of human intelligences.
quarrels in values can be traced to evolutionary causes.
The structuring of morality into evolutionary levels gives
shape to all kinds of blurred and confused moral ideas that
are floating around in our present cultural heritage. For
example, "vice" is a conflict between biological quality
and social quality. Things like sex and booze and drugs
and tobacco have high biological quality because they feel
good, but are harmful for social reasons. They take all
of your money, they break up your family, and they threaten
the stability of the community. This whole century's been
about the struggle between intellectual and social patterns.
Is society going to dominate intellect or is intellect going
to dominate society? An evolutionary morality says it is
moral for intellect to seek to subjugate society, to escape
from the constraints of society, but it also contains a
warning: Just as a society that weakens its people's physical
health endangers its own stability, so does an intellectual
pattern that weakens and destroys the health of its social
base also endanger its own stability. More
principle of ethics: A thing is right when it tends
to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the
community while permitting its further evolution. It is
wrong when it tends otherwise. More
Codes are necessary because evolution, in liberating
humankind from complete dependence on instincts, has also
made it possible for us to act with a lack of understanding
that no organism ruled by instincts alone could possess.
Ethics, however, involves good judgment, sensitivity, and
imagination as well, not just obeying rules. Ethics codes
should be seen as providing limits to the means that may
be employed to achieve organizational aspirations, but otherwise
freeing the moral imagination to reach for them.
Imagination broadens and deepens the context for
judgment, action, and assessment to include the less tangible,
but more meaningful feelings, aspirations, ideals, and relationships.
More Ethical judgment
consists in making this context explicit, judging its implications
for action, and taking responsibility for learning through
tendencies in evolution that drive the purpose of
Changes that lead toward harmony within the community
(i.e., the ability to obtain energy through cooperation
and utilization of unused energy).
that lead toward entropy within the community (or ways
of obtaining energy for one's purposes through exploiting
other organisms, thereby causing conflict and disorder).
biological evolution occurs through genes, cultural evolution
occurs through genes and memes. More
Organization is an artificial person to be sure.
But organizations of all stripes provide some degree of
hope, identity, and purpose. But for the harmony, intensity,
and vividness of organizational integrity, they require
the communication and culture of real people. They require
responsible people adept at learning together to achieve
shared ends. More
purpose of Organizational Ethics is to guide the
design and development of structures and systems to evolve
toward Organizational Integrity. It does so by:
and intensifying existing potentialities of its involved
and affected stakeholders.
their number and scope.
them so their conflicts will be harmonized.
all their energies of will and intellect to move them
aim of Organizational Ethics is that union of effectiveness,
efficiency, and excellence that involves the perfection
of importance toward achieving organizational aspirations.
first principle of Organizational Ethics: An organization
is a community part of larger communities still, and inconceivable
without them. More
foundation of Organizational Ethics is trust, without
which effective, efficient, and excellent action is not
possible over time.
Ethics is concerned with developing community and
encouraging values and principles-based decision-making
rather than rule-following behavior. It recognizes that
policy is important in implementing the organization's values.
Organizational life, however, is now so complex and changing
that a predominance of rules-bound stakeholders will never
achieve organizational aspirations. More
Ethics is embodied in policy choices: documents;
structures and systems; principles and practices; and culture.
Economics & Politics
makers have recognized that there is an integral relationship
between ethics, economics, and politics, at least since
the time of Aristotle. As dEPICted in the figure opposite,
none of these fields of endeavor stands alone. There is
much to be gained by studying them independently, but much
lost if they are not treated together.
is primarily concerned with the individual pursuit of prosperity
through markets. The economic goal of prosperity includes
three dimensions: efficiency, growth, and stability.
primarily focuses on the community's pursuit of justice
through government. The goal of justice includes the three
dimensions of individual freedom, equity in the distribution
of benefits and burdens, and social order.
economics, and politics are ultimately concerned
with promoting well-being by maintaining trust, prosperity
and justice. What binds these three disciplines together
is the concept of "excellence." It is a word that
suggests not only "doing well" but also "doing good."
on excellence presupposes a particular sense of justice
in which merit-excellence-is encouraged, defended, and rewarded
within the respective spheres of government and the marketplace.
Justice, moreover, involves a sense of caring. To be just
we must care about ourselves and our reputations, those
we feel akin to and responsible for, the world. Built into
any such system is the demand that we not take into account
factors irrelevant to the task or beyond the individual's
is measured by its purpose. Excellence is both cooperation
and competition contributing to the larger whole. Excellence
is a function of mutual inspiration and support in pursuit
of a shared purpose. Its opposite, mediocrity, is a function
of the mutual insecurity and enforced conformity that results
where shared purpose is replaced by instinctive survival.
marketplace is an efficient arrangement for the satisfaction
of economic interests. The realization of values, however,
depends upon community-wide dialogue about the symbols,
ideals, principles, and ideas of its culture.
economics and politics not founded on the Ethics of the
community are without purpose and meaning. Ethics without
economics and politics has no means to achieve community
as Communities. Organizational integrity is ultimately
tribe-like, but it is a tribe that learns. It is the purposeful,
knowledgeable, trusting exercise of authority in service
to a broader community. Such an organization meets the seven
parameters of organizational integrity summarized below:
Community-We are first and foremost members of organized
groups, with shared histories and established practices,
and the organization itself is a member of a larger community.
and recognition are integral aspects of membership in
a community. In any organization, there are overlapping
and concentric circles of identity and responsibility,
and a virtue in one arena may conflict with a virtue in
organization must encourage and insist upon service with
excellence and defend the ideal of a meritocracy, a system
in which excellence is honored and mediocrity is not.
sense of wholeness, integrity includes both one's sense
of membership and loyalty and one's sense of moral autonomy.
It invites rather than discourages ethical dilemma because
identities and responsibilities overlap, and one must
often make one's rules rather than follow them.
is no mechanical decision procedure for resolving most
disputes about justice, and what is required, in each
and every particular case, is the ability to balance and
weigh competing concerns and come to a "fair" conclusion.
increasingly important term in ethics and managerial thinking,
holism encourages and ultimately requires reference to
"the big picture," to the overall context in which an
organizational decision must be made, to the whole rather
than just a part.
and Hope-As a members of concentric communities, including
the world itself, successful living requires confidence
that one is participating in some endeavor with a purpose
bigger than oneself that has intrinsic value. It is this
sense of trust and hope that is sustaining.