General Introduction to Management Ethics

Benefits of Ethics in Management

According to Johannes J. Britz – ethics is a branch of philosophy that deals with human conduct and character. Ethics reflects questions such as what would be the right thing to to? et al. He furthers states that the process of ethical decision making consists of the identification and assessment of the problem, the choice to act and the action itself which is based on ethical norms and principles.

For the information professional such as the librarian Britz applied the concept of information ethics which is defined as professional ethics that deals with ethical issues such as professional gathering, organizing, value adding, storage, retrieval, distribution and management of information products and services on behalf of a third party (public). Thus the librarian should uphold the ethics of individual and collective responsibility towards knowledge, its production, communication and use.

Ethical Issues

  • Right to access information
  • Right to intellectual property
  • Quality of information
  • Right to privacy
  • Public funding issues

Managing Ethics in the Workplace

Elizabeth A Buchanan states it is best to have a Code of Ethics in libraries as it provides a framework of guidelines for justice, beneficence, independence, objectivity and professionalism. As such, a Code of Ethics should be viewed as a set of ‘best practices’ as it will reduce anxiety and pressure to living up to the code. The Code reflects professional ethics of obligations to society, obligations to employer, obligations to clients and obligations to colleagues and organizations. As a result, it is important that persons be educated about ethics starting at school and continuing in the workplace.


According to Hauptman (1988) self regulation can be affirmed through a set of operative ethical principles.

1. Respect the integrity of data and information.

2. Do not purposefully or inadvertently distort, fabricate, plagiarize or manipulate in order to give a false impression.

3. Do not attempt to control others’ articulations and thereby control their thought.

4. Respect professional confidentiality

5. Distinguish between personal commitment and professional obligation.

Other benefits that can redound to an organization with an ethics program are as follows:

· Social responsibility

· Maintain a moral course

· Cultivate strong teamwork and productivity

· Support employee growth and meaning

· Ethics help ensure that policies are legal

· Ethics help manage values associated with quality management, strategic planning and diversity management

· Ethics promote a strong public image.

It is said best by Donaldson and Davis, in “Business Ethics? Yes, But What Can it Do for the Bottom Line?” (Management Decision, V28, N6, 1990) ethics legitimizes managerial actions, strengthens the coherence and balance of the organization’s culture, improves trust in relationships between individuals and groups, supports greater consistency in standards and qualities of products, and cultivates greater sensitivity to the impact of the enterprise’s values and messages.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Homeless Case Study

Post your comments about the homeless case study here. We will discuss this in class tomorrow.


Sarah said...

This case study discussion brought up some important issues -- who does the library serve? Do we really mean it when we say "equal" access?

I think that the wisest and most ethical course of action is to focus attention on behavior rather than to talk about attributes of groups. If the behavior of one patron truly interferes with the ability of another patron to use the facility, then I believe it is ethical to consider asking the first patron to leave.

Nuisance policies, or rules for conduct in the library, can ensure equity if they are applied equally.

However, I'm bemused by the idea of a nuisance policy that says that patrons must be actively doing something "libraryish" while in the building. What if I come to the library to drink coffee and listen to my iPod for several hours? I'm clearly in violation of the nuisance policy -- would I be asked to leave? Probably not.

It's important to look at such policies and evaluate them to make sure that they're designed to ensure equitable use of the library by all patrons -- and that such policies aren't being used as a veiled method of institutionalized classism.


Rhonda Clark said...


Thanks for your comment. I agree with your post and appreciate your reasoned approach to the topic. I especially appreciate your idea that behavior should be the focus rather than a label. Many in class felt that way as well. The case study focused on one group for the purpose of giving a specific example discussed (and so named) in legal and other arenas, but the point is well taken that any person (such as the offensive perfume wearer) can be seen as the "nuisance" and any other person could be seen as the one to have rights defended. When we speak here of defending the rights of the patron, we are speaking of all patrons. I was hoping for some productive answers to the issues raised, such as an active discussion of the rights of all patrons, especially those ejected from the library, in the third case scenario where complete denial of entrance occurred. Thanks so much for your comment.

Coral said...
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