The Ethics of Strategic Ambiguity

Pages: 7 (2547 words) Published: December 10, 2009
Sun Tzu, The Art of War
This paper examines Strategic Ambiguity and the need to have an ethical direction for a favorable outcome for any business model. I will bring to light how unethical behavior can decrease a favorable outcome, and could in fact taint a company forever, such as it did with the case of "Strategic ambiguity and the ethic of significant choice in the tobacco industry's crisis communication"2. As a reader you will walk through different scenarios and draw from the vast knowledge of subject matter experts in this subject and understand how strategic ambiguity can be obtained to gain and edge or help stay afloat. At the conclusion you will notice that there is an underlying fundament ethics that strategic ambiguity must meet in order for a company to grow and live harmoniously with the truth. A favorable outcome that is being achieved while ethical decisions must be made in order to achieve a successful way of communication. SUMMARY:

The ethics of strategic ambiguity
Also in the “The ethics of strategic ambiguity” a receiver will "attach a meaning that is congruent with his attitudes, thus assimilating the message" (Goss & Williams, 1973, p. 166). Williams and Goss (1975) describe this use of strategic ambiguity as "a kind of character insurance for people who are perceived as credible" (p. 265). This is important if any miscommunication is present and there is deniability for useful for preserving future options. In other words you are saving face. On the other hand if an Organization is in a crisis and trying to quickly point blame away from itself it could tarnish the groups branding like it did in the case stud of Jack in the box article. Crisis communication that privileges the needs of a few crisis stakeholders over others, by introducing biased and/or incomplete information regarding questions of evidence, intent, and locus, is unethical. Even though this is an Organization their meaning is not congruent with their attitudes, since they are trying to point blame on external stakeholders which tells people that their character is able to accept blame. There is also the deniability factor that this article keeps on bringing up in their article. This has both a positive and negative side to it. The positive side is that it allows people to save face, delaying conflict, testing reactions to ideas, and avoiding personal responsibility (Clampitt, 1991). The negative side to this is that “Strategic ambiguity may emphasize goal-attainment at the expense of ethics” and that Eisenberg and Goodall (1993) suggest that the utility of strategic ambiguity for escaping blame may limit its usefulness for ethical communication in organizations and might hinder its forward movement. This subject seems to be one of the key points the other articles refer back to as the Corporations try to shift the blame unethically and keep whatever footing or hyper competition they might still have. {draw:frame}

Tobacco Strategic ambiguity and the ethic of significant choice in the tobacco industry's crisis communication The article goes on to point out about organizational crisis and significant choice. Where strategies run the risk of violating ethical standards if the information shared amongst the originations is unnecessary ambiguous or incomplete. Nielson (1974) offers the following criteria for evaluating the information: “Misinformation can be of various kinds. It is certainly not necessary for a speaker to make demonstrably false-to-fact statements in order to mislead his [sic] listeners. The information may, for instance, be incomplete; the selection of information may be biased; statistical units may be inadequately defined or incomplete; vague or ambiguous terminology, in which listeners find erroneous meanings may be used; relationships may be implied between the issue under discussion and other issues when, in fact, no relevant relationship exists (e.g., in guilt by association); the issue...

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Whinston, Andrew B and Geng, Xianjun: (2004) Operationalizing the essential role of the information technology artifact in information’s systems research: gray areas, pitfalls, and the importance of strategic ambiguity, MIS Quarterly. Minneapolis: Jun 2004. Vol. 28, Iss. 2; pg. 149, 11 pgs
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