Individual and Organizational Ethics
Ethics is the study of what is considered good or bad, including related actions and values. Apart from the question whether an action is right or wrong, the question of duty and obligation and moral responsibility is also present in ethics. Individual ethics are the values that an individual holds dear and therefore characterize his/her behavior. These values, which are also referred to as moral values, are shaped by experiences an individual goes through in his/her life. An individual’s behavior is affected by many variables, which are values, attitudes, motivation, ability, perception, personality and learning (Griffin, 2007).
The learning process, which results in a permanent change of behavior because of experience, plays a major role. Whatever an individual learns from his environment is subjected to the law of effect. The law of effect determines whether a behavior will be repeated or not, depending on the consequences of that behavior. For example if a child stole a mango and was beaten, this will make him refrain from stealing the mango again because he fears being beaten. Eventually, the child will grow up not stealing mangoes because he knows it is wrong. Some of the values I possess are integrity, empathy, hard work, transparency, patience and doing to others, what I would like them to do for me.
Organization’s ethics are the values that an organization follows as it executes its everyday activities. These values differ from one organization to the other. There are three dimensions that organizations explore in coming up with their ethical standards. These are profit maximizing, trusteeship and quality of life management (Griffin, 2007). These three levels can be likened to Kohlberg’s levels of morality whereby profit maximizing is related to preconvention morality. In this case, the organization focuses on individual gain and avoiding punishment. Trusteeship reflects conventional morality whereby the organization strives to satisfy the expectations of others and higher authorities and finally, quality of management which relates to post conventional morality. In this case, the organization does what is right over and above self-interest and apart from the views of others. The ethics of the organization I work for lie on the profit maximizing or preconvention morality. The most valued principle is that the end justifies the means.
The organization’s ethics differ with my personal ethics grossly. While I value transparency, the organization works on the principle that the end justifies the means, which means that some information that would lead to financial loss is not disclosed in the financial records. It also encourages impunity since most of the directors walk scot-free even after vandalizing the property of the company. Many disputes that should have resulted in legal litigations have also ended up being settled by arbitration but this has not ensured justice to the aggrieved parties. Empathy and patience is one of my values but this is does not apply in my company because it focuses on profits therefore there is a high turnover in the organization. Since learning takes different periods in individuals, I believe it is good for the organization to know the strengths and weaknesses of its employees and know where to give additional training to an employee who did not get a concept in an initial training. This would motivate the employees to do well in their work and to do more research on the subject.
Although I experience conflict of personal ethics and organization’s ethics, there is a chance that I can facilitate change in the organization. Citing the benefits of post-conventional morality for example, a good public image that will attract the best employees with good morals and the advantage of being given contracts, which we are currently being denied, will make the directors’ change the values for the organization.
Griffin, Ricky. Fundamentals of Management. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning, 2007. Print.