Are the Actions of People in the Workplace a Consequence of Individual or Organisational Characteristics? What Would Promote Ethical Behaviour at Work?

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Chapter 7

Managing for Ethical Conduct

Contents: (Please note: the Instructor Guide for every chapter will follow this structure.) 1. Chapter Outline
2. Teaching Notes
3. In-Class Exercises
4. Homework Assignments
5. Additional Resources

Chapter Outline

I. Introduction

II. In Business, Ethics Is about Behavior

A. Practical Advice for Managers: Ethical Behavior

III. Our Multiple Ethical Selves

A. The Kenneth Lay Example
B. The Dennis Levine Example
C. Practical Advice for Managers’ Multiple Ethical Selves

IV. Rewards and Discipline

A. People Do What is Rewarded and Avoid Doing What is Punished B. People Will Go the Extra Mile to Achieve Goals Set by Managers C. How Goals Combined with Rewards Can Encourage Unethical Behavior D. Practical Advice for Managers: Goals, Rewards, and Discipline E. Recognize the Power of Indirect Rewards and Punishments F. Can Managers Really Reward Ethical Behavior?

G. What about the Role of Discipline?
H. Practical Advice for Managers: Discipline

V. “Everyone’s Doing It”

A. People Follow Group Norms
B. Rationalizing Unethical Behavior
C. Practical Advice for Managers: Group Norms

VI. People Fulfill Assigned Roles

A. The Zimbardo Prison Experiment
B. Roles at Work
C. Conflicting Roles can Lead to Unethical Behavior
D. Roles Can Also Support Ethical Behavior
E. Practical Advice for Managers: Roles

VII. People Do What They are Told

A. The Milgram Experiments
B. Obedience to Authority at Work
C. Practical Advice for Managers: Obedience to Authority

VIII. Responsibility Is Diffused in Organizations

A. “Don’t Worry – We’re Taking Care of Everything” B. Diffusing Responsibility in Groups
C. Diffusing Responsibility by Dividing Responsibility
D. Diffusing Responsibility by Creating Psychological Distance E. Practical Advice for Managers: Personal Responsibility

IX. Conclusion

A. Am I Walking My Ethical Talk?

X. Discussion Questions

XI. Case: Sears, Roebuck and Co.: The Auto Center Scandal

XII. Short Case

Teaching Notes - Discussion Questions

1. Have you ever been in a situation, especially a work situation, where the norms supported a particular behavior, ethical or unethical, where you felt pressured to go along? Explain.

Undergraduate students have limited work experience. But, they will often cite examples from summer jobs, such as working in a fast food restaurant, where the rules said you could not eat the food, but everyone did. Or, they may have had a job where they worked hard at first, but after being charged with "rate-busting," slowed down to match the work levels of regular workers.

Graduate students with work experience will have lots of examples - some good and some bad. It is good to solicit both. That way the message is clear that organizations and managers vary and perhaps one should attempt to learn about the ethical values of an organization or manager before accepting a job.

Probes to Stimulate Discussion

With examples of pressure toward unethical behavior, ask:
"What was the nature of the pressure? Why did you feel you should go along? What options did you think you had, if you did not go along?"

With examples of pressure toward ethical behavior, ask:
* "How did you feel about the pressure?" Often the reaction is quite positive. Rather than pressure, they may experience it as "support" for doing the right thing. Discuss the difference.

* "Do you think it is okay to pressure people to do 'the right thing,' such as supporting a blood drive or the United Way?"

2. Have you ever been in a situation where the rewards explicitly or implicitly supported unethical conduct? Explain.

Again, the discussion will depend upon examples generated by the...
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