Ethics Through Controlling Culture, or Freeing It?

business_ethics_highlights_2When corporate scandals arise, the diagnosis is often cultural. Not “cultural” in the sense of having to do with nationality or ethnicity, but in the sense of having to do with the organization’s own corporate culture — its shared set of values, beliefs, and ways of doing things. But then if culture is often the problem, so is it often the proposed solution. As the writer below suggests, sometimes the proposed solution is for senior management to take stronger control of the organization’s culture. But in many cases, what’s really needed is less control, because what’s really needed is a widespread feeling of freedom to dissent, to ask hard questions internally, and ultimately if necessary to blow the whistle. >>>

LINK: ‘Command and control’ banks have got ethics and culture all wrong (By Carl Rhodes for The Conversation)

…Bosses respond to scandals by saying they can make everything right by increasing their levels of control. Control, that is, over the values, beliefs and behaviours of their employees.

The basic mistake is to assume that ethics is about one group of people (managers) dictating ethics to another group of people (employees). This is not about individual employees making choices for which they are responsible. It is about them doing what they are told.

This completely fails to acknowledge that the reason debates over ethics in banking are occurring is because of people who have criticised dominant corporate norms, not done what the corporation expected of them, and had the courage to bring them to public attention….

What do you think?

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  1. For change to occur, one must be open to change. Culture can only shift if everyone is willing to commit- and the company is willing to hire and promote in accordance with culture alignment not just skills.

  2. Shazia Khan

    The problem starts when management tries to control employees’ morality, rather than giving them freedom to find their way through ethical problems, organizations dictate them like ignorant individuals who have no idea of what morality is. This very notion is disturbing and should be questioned.

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