Philosophical Schools of Ethics in Thesaurus Form - Click Here for chart
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.
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.
Ethical Case Study in Restrictive Gifts
This example comes from Herbert S. White’s book, Ethical Dilemmas in Libraries.
The Gift of a White Elephant
The university president, while agreeing privately that the Hazeltyne collection probably doesn’t warrant housing as a separate entity in the university library, argues that this is necessary to please the donor and to secure other donations from him. He notes that the library has room, and that he will supply any funds necessary to make this happen. Library director Joanna Miller argues that giving this collection separate status would be a waste of space and make the university a laughing stock.
In this case the donor, Hazeltyne, wants his collection to be housed separately and has said if this happens he will possibly donate $50 million to the university. The president wants Miller to take the collection and has even offered funding for it. He has also said if Hazeltyne donates the $50 million the library will see a benefit.
Most libraries have collection development policies and discuss restrictive gifts. See this link for one such policy:
Should the university president be making such a request of Miller? Is it okay for the library to suffer if the university benefits from it? Whose policy reigns supreme? The library’s? Or the university’s? The library is part of the university and therefore shares its goals. Should Miller allow the special collection because she knows the library will benefit in the future? Can the president’s word be trusted? What happens if Hazeltyne leaves his money to another institution? What should happen to his collection then? If Miller makes this concession how will it affect future gifts?
Steven Cox gives some helpful examples of how to handle donors here.