Ethics at the Interface

 


When we interface as individuals, as citizens, or as representatives of institutions or organizations, we often encounter ethical dilemmas. As the description of this year’s conference theme suggests, we might need to navigate uncertain boundaries between insider and outsider status, and determine whose power is legitimate, whose voices are heard. We confront these questions whether we are teaching a class of culturally, racially (and politically!) diverse students, collaborating on research projects or articles, consulting with clients, or making decisions about an AOM activity. What is the right way, the ethical way, to handle our differences, so we can learn, study, or work together?

When we join AOM we commit to uphold the Code of Ethics, which offers some guidance about the necessity of standing for fair, respectful, inclusive practices when we find ourselves at the interface:

AOM members respect the dignity and worth of all people and the rights of individuals…AOM members are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status, and they consider these factors when working with all people. AOM members try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases based on these factors, and they do not knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon such prejudices.

This year the Ethics Education Committee invites you to discuss common dilemmas and to consider ways to address them. Please join us, all are welcome! After the conference in Atlanta we plan to share what we learn in a series of posts on The Ethicist Blog.

Building a Culture Of Respect: Teaching and Conducting Research in a Complex World
Session Type: PDW Workshop
Program Session: 70 | Submission: 15995 | Sponsor(s): (D&ITC, GDO)
Scheduled: Friday, Aug 4 2017 10:00AM – 12:00PM at Hilton Atlanta in Galleria 1
Organizer: Janet E. Salmons, Walden U.
Organizer: David B. Zoogah, Xavier U.
Organizer: Louise Kelly, U. of La Verne
Organizer: Deborah Michelle Mullen, HealthPartners Inst./ U. of St. Francis

Teaching Ethics & Social Responsibility in a Conflicted World
Program Session: 178 | Submission: 16055 | Sponsor(s): (SIM)
Scheduled: Friday, Aug 4 2017 5:00PM – 6:30PM at Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Marquis M304
Organizer: Janet E. Salmons, Walden U. and Vision2Lead
Organizer: Lynn Wilson, Walden U. and SeaTrust Institute

Ethics Education Committee Open Forum on Ethical Scholarship
Session Type: Meeting
Program Session: 433 | Submission: 18158 | Sponsor(s): (AAA)
Scheduled: Saturday, Aug 5 2017 4:00PM – 5:30PM at Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Lobby L404

Ethics Education Committee Open Forum on Global Ethics for Business
& Academia

Session Type: Meeting
Program Session: 469 | Submission: 18159 | Sponsor(s): (AAA)
Scheduled: Saturday, Aug 5 2017 5:45PM – 7:15PM at Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Lobby L404

UN Sustainable Development Goals: What Can We Do?
Session Type: Caucus
Program Session: 1823 | Submission: 15758 | Sponsor(s): (CAU)
Scheduled: Tuesday, Aug 8 2017 11:30AM – 1:00PM at Hilton Atlanta in Room 203
Organizer: Janet E. Salmons, Walden U.
Organizer: Mark Edward Meaney, U. of Colorado, Boulder
Presenter: Lynn Wilson, Walden U.

Growing Pains: Globalization and the Threats to Research Integrity
Threats to Research Integrity
Session Type: Caucus
Program Session: 2059 | Submission: 16581 | Sponsor(s): (CAU)
Scheduled: Tuesday, Aug 8 2017 3:00PM – 4:30PM at Hilton Atlanta in Room 203
Organizer: Joseph Lampel, The U. of Manchester
Organizer: Benson Honig, McMaster U.

Join the Ethics Ed Committee in Atlanta!

Yes, we were hacked!

Image result for hackersIn case you were wondering… we did not write that post about casinos! We were hacked! We are trying to diagnose the problem so hopefully you will not see any more oddball posts.

Confidential

By Nancy Day, AOM Ombuds

Our jobs as faculty can be among the most satisfying – at least in terms of Hackman and Oldham’s (1975) Job Characteristics Model. We use a lot of different skills, often find our work meaningful, and we have a great deal of autonomy. BUT – our jobs can also be among the most stressful: publication pressures, student demands, and difficulties working with colleagues, both other faculty and administrators.

As members of the Academy of Management, you are fortunate to have resources to help you navigate conflicts and related issues. The AOM Ethics Ombuds Committee is composed of three members, all of whom are trained ombudspersons, who will try to understand your story, clarify your goals, help generate options that may resolve the issue, and assist you in planning your next steps.

As member of the International Ombudsman Association, we adhere to four Standards of Practice: Informality, neutrality/impartiality, independence, and confidentiality. In our last contribution to the Ethicist Blog, Ombuds Committee member Mary Sue Love covered neutrality and impartiality. Today, I’d like to describe confidentiality.

Confidentiality means we won’t divulge what you tell us to anyone, unless you give us permission to do so. Confidentiality is critical so that our “visitors” (the folks we’re trying to help) feel they can be candid and complete in telling their stories. Like all organizational Ombuds, we keep no records, so there’s nothing that will come up in any legal discovery process, should that occur. The only people who will know about your consultation with AOM Ombuds are you and us, unless you choose to tell someone else. Our confidentiality standard requires we neither confirm nor deny who’s consulted with us.

Confidentiality is critical so we can effectively help Ombuds visitors. Exceptions to it are very limited: If we believe there is “imminent risk of serious harm” to an individual or the Academy, we are obligated to report that to the appropriate person.

As Ombuds, our goal is that by telling us your story, you’ll have both a clearer understanding of the situation and some ideas about how to move forward in a positive direction. In our next few blog posts, we’ll explain the other Standards of Practice, independence and informality.

So if you want an avenue to confidentially try to resolve Academy-related issues, please contact us at ombuds@aom.org. You can find more information on the Academy’s Ethics webpage: www.AOM.org/ethics.

Giving Voice to Values in the Classroom

The news of the day filters into our classrooms. Students think about how they can reconcile the desire to address social ills and injustices with success in the business world. Those of us who teach are challenged to find productive ways to bring ethics into the conversation. Giving Voice to Values (GVV) offers a timely set of FREE resources for doing so and they are available online. Also see a recent Harvard Business Review article: Talking About Ethics Across Cultures by Mary C. Gentile, December 2016.

GVV is not about persuading people to be more ethical. Rather GVV starts from the premise that most of us already want to act on our values, but that we also want to feel that we have a reasonable chance of doing so effectively and successfully. This pedagogy and curriculum are about raising those odds.

Rather than a focus on ethical analysis, the Giving Voice to Values (GVV) curriculum focuses on ethical implementation and asks the question: “What if I were going to act on my values? What would I say and do? How could I be most effective?”

Here are some tips for discussing ethics and values in your classroom:

  • Try using some GVV-style, post-decision-making case studies, that end not with a protagonist who has decided what is right and invite students to work together to craft, script and  share effective action plans for getting the right thing done.
  • Be sure to focus on cases that feature protagonists are various levels in the organization, not just the CEO, so the students can begin practicing how to create effective strategies right from the start.
  • Provide opportunities for peer-coaching around the most promising scripts and action plans. See the “Guidelines for Peer Coaching” document in the GVV Case Collection at http://store.darden.virginia.edu/giving-voice-to-values
  • Use the popular GVV exercise, “A Tale of Two Stories” as an introduction the approach, also available at http://store.darden.virginia.edu/giving-voice-to-values

GVV is being used all over the world– in over 970 business schools, businesses and other settings. This approach to leadership development was pioneered by Ethics Education Committee member Dr. Mary C. Gentile. GVV cases and materials draw on business practitioners’ experiences, as well as social science and management research.

For More Information on GVV, Contact: Mary C. Gentile Ph.D., GentileM@darden.virginia.edu, 978-468-2757  and visit:  www.MaryGentile.com and www.GivingVoiceToValues.org

 

Independence – A Central Tenet of the Work of an Ombuds

by Gregory K. Stephens, Ph.D., AOM Ombuds

On occasion, when faced with knotty disputes, I have shared the issues with a long-time mediation partner (now retired) and asked for feedback and creative insight. Part of the reason those conversations were so valuable to me was because, though she was insightful, wise, and careful, she had (as we say in Texas) “no dog in the hunt.” That is, she was an independent resource, one who I could depend upon to be thoughtful and unbiased, and who would not be obligated to share my challenges with someone in authority.

This, at its core, describes the first of the Standards of Practice under which we operate as Ombuds for the Academy of Management — Independence. We are independent from other organizational entities, such as the Ethical Adjudication Committee. We do not hold other positions within the AOM that might compromise our independence. Within the constraints of the other IOA Standards of Practice, Confidentiality, Neutrality, and Informality (to be discussed in our next blog post) we have discretion over whether or how to act in response to  an individual’s concern or trending issues of concern to multiple individuals. In short, we do not have pressures to reveal information or act in any obligatory way, outside of our concern for the individual.

In practical terms, what this means is that we can help our “visitors” navigate the policies and procedures of the AOM organization, see their issues through different eyes, explore different ways of handling their concerns, and even deal with both parties in a dispute (again, acknowledging and abiding by expectations for confidentiality, impartiality, and neutrality). Because we are independent from formal disciplinary mechanisms, we are not obligated to reveal information shared in conversations with our visitors, nor are we expected to share individually identifiable issues with others in the AOM hierarchy.

Independence of the Ombuds in any organization is important to avoid both the reality and appearance of divided loyalties. As Luis Piñero,  University of Wisconsin-Madison Assistant Vice Provost for Workforce Equity and Diversity, said, “Ombuds cannot be seen as extensions of the power structure. If they are not perceived as independent, people may not seek them out.” Our whole goal is to help our visitors to find ways to resolve their concerns and disputes, with a goal of avoiding the blunt instrument of formal authority. Achieving that goal would be difficult or impossible without independence.

We (the AOM Ombuds) are here to help, and want to serve the dispute resolution needs of the members of the Academy of Management. We commit to abide by the Standards of Practice of the International Ombudsman Association, including independence, and the Academy of Management has likewise committed to those standards. If you have questions or if you are in need of our services, please reach out to us at Ombuds@aom.org.

Plan now for MED event: Center for Civil and Human Rights

Center for Civil and Human Rights

MED members: Please join us for a very special evening at the Center for Civil and Human Rights on Saturday, August 5 from 7-10 p.m. as MED, in conjunction with OBTS, NDSC, and Pearson Education, host an AOM experience to remember. The Center, located in the heart of this year’s conference area, celebrates providing a space for visitors to “explore the fundamental rights of all human beings so that they leave inspired and empowered to join the ongoing dialogue about human rights in their communities.” We are excited to hold our reception in a place that respects and honors MED members from all backgrounds, and look forward to enjoying an evening of desserts and conversation with you all!

www.civilandhumanrights.org

AOM, Political Positions & Realities

In this tumultuous political climate, many professional associations and research institutes are finding themselves in a challenging situation. The AOM is not immune. Indeed, the global nature of the Academy means we have a number of complex dilemmas to consider, as well as practical problems associated with travel to the annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia next summer.

The Academy’s Executive Committee advanced a proposal to amend the policy on political stands:

“On February 5th, the Executive Committee unanimously approved an amendment to allow stands on an exceptional basis. This amendment was approved on February 10th in an extraordinary meeting of the Board of Governors. The AOM will take a stand when our purpose, existence, or function as an organization is threatened. The policy will be embargoed for 90 days while a task force explores how the policy will be elaborated and implemented (please see below for additional information on both the policy and the task force).”

In the meantime, it is important that leaders and members know what can and can’t be said and done in the name of the Academy of Management.  Please take a moment to review updated answers to frequently asked questions.

The mission of the AOM is to “To build a vibrant and supportive community of scholars by markedly expanding opportunities to connect and explore ideas.” Our Code of Ethics reminds us of of our commitment to “respect the dignity and worth of all people” and points out that “Academy members have a duty to consider their responsibilities to the world community.” Standing for our values and principles is easy when they aren’t tested!

We are also exploring a range of member suggestions, such as increased reliance on web-based technologies and video-conferencing. If you are directly affected by the ban, or you have suggestions for other ways in which we can support and enable scholarly participation by affected scholars, contact Taryn Fiore at tfiore@aom.org.

 

Theory Meets Practice: Executives in the Ethics Classroom Let’s Compare Notes!

by Diane L. Swanson, PhD    Kansas State University

theory-73181_1280Why this blog?

I am sharing my experience in team teaching ethics with a corporate executive because I want to hear from others who have done something similar. It is difficult to find such experiences documented anywhere; therefore, it would be ideal if Academy of Management members would share their thoughts on this subject here.

How my team teaching with an executive started:  

Approximately four years ago, I started team teaching my graduate professional ethics elective in our college of business with a recently retired senior executive.  This came about because the then dean of our college stopped me in the hall one day and asked if I wanted to team teach with our newly arrived executive in residence.

I usually pause for at least a few minutes before making any decision, not to mention one that affects my classes. However in this case, I quickly said “yes.”  Although I hadn’t yet met this gentleman, the dean told me of his stellar career with a Fortune 500 company and of his sincere interest in business ethics education.   I also knew that he was still serving on three boards of directors.

That was enough for me.

To make a long story short, this executive and I soon met to plan our experiment in team teaching. This coming fall will be our fourth semester team teaching this graduate course.

In due time, the dean put me in touch with yet another executive who helped me create an ethics teaching module for my MBA triple bottom line class.  Soon afterwards, a law partner of a large global firm started flying to campus twice a year to give lectures on ethics in my undergraduate and graduate classes and to our college’s professional advantage students.

I can attest to the advantages of these arrangements, especially the benefits from the team teaching arrangement.

Benefits of the team teaching:

  • The very presence of this executive in the classroom speaks volumes to students about the importance of ethics in the workplace.
  • The executive boosts this subject’s relevance by giving concrete examples of how and why ethical behavior in the workplace matters. Student teaching evaluations show as much.
  • Students are looking for role models. They want to take advice from a successful business executive, especially when it is given face-to-face in an ethics classroom.
  • What this executive has added to the class has influenced the topics covered in this course. Notably, given my teaching partner’s experience as a former senior vice president of a Fortune 500 firm and his role as a current board member for three organizations, I have added material on corporate governance to the course.
  • This executive has touched the lives of students in ways he may never know. I have heard from former students who tell me that their interactions with him made a positive difference in their professional lives. Three of them have offered to give back in kind someday. There could be a chain reaction taking shape!
  • The executive tells me that he enjoys helping students and giving back to society in this role.
  • I continually learn about developments in practice, especially those that affect the C-suite.

Our method in brief:  

My teaching partner is active in our classroom. (I now think of it as our classroom!)  He attends classes, meets with students in groups, and gives them thoughtful feedback on their presentations.  The method that works best for us is that I teach the models and then ask for his comments and observations.  Examples of the questions I pose to him include: How is this model relevant to practice in your view?  How is it not?  Could the model be altered to address practice better?

The most interesting conversations begin.  Essentially, we engage in looking at the models and material more critically.   Since this elective is just as much a course in critical thinking as it is a course in professional ethics, these conversations are a real plus.

Let’s compare notes!

Again, please feel free to use this blog site to weigh in on this topic. It would be nice to create some notes on best practices!

 

Diane L. Swanson, PhD
Professor of Management and Edgerly Family Endowed Chair of Business Administration
Founding Chair, Business Ethics Education Initiative
Kansas State University http://cba.k-state.edu/departments-initiatives/business-ethics/index.html
Co-editor: Advancing Business Ethics Education (2008) and Toward Assessing Business Ethics Education (2011)

Ethics? Let’s talk! Plan now for Atlanta sessions.

rightandwrongdecisionsWhat does it mean to act ethically?

Is it basically to “do the right thing”? We only have to peer out of our office windows to see that what one thinks is the right thing, the appropriate attitude, justifiable behavior, is utterly, perhaps terrifyingly wrong to someone else. What is the right thing, and who is the arbiter?

As academics, scholar practitioners, or students, much of our work is done privately. No one can see what we’re doing when we’re crafting a paper, analyzing data, or conducting a peer review on someone else’s work. If we cut corners or cheat the risk may not be obvious, or it may take time before those closed-door deeds become public. Other activities are public, and may have an immediate impact on other’s well-being, or careers. Even so, the right action, the ethical behavior, may not be entirely clear.

Members of the Academy need to be on the same page about what is right, and we can readily find that page– it’s called our Code of Ethics. The code spells out expectations for all of us in General and Professional Principles. Ethical Standards spell out “enforceable rules” for activities within the context of the AOM.

All members are expected to uphold the Code, but it is clear that many have not reviewed it to see what they have endorsed by joining the AOM, or perhaps wait until a problem arises before consulting it.

Like any document of this kind, it is useless unless we bring it to life in the ways that we think and act. The Ethics Education Committee (EEC) is responsible for bringing the Code of Ethics to the attention of our members– and the Ombuds Committee is responsible for providing guidance when dilemmas arise. EEC members are available to assist your Division Consortia, or other sessions you offer at the annual conference. We offer a flexible menu of options, and encourage you to contact us to discuss the best way we can work together in Atlanta.

We can offer the following types of sessions for your meeting, Division Consortium or Committee:

  1. Presentation and Discussion: A 60-minute interactive session to provide a broad overview of business and professional ethics, values and the AOM Code of Ethics.
  2. Focused Session and Discussion: A 30 to 60-minute session on a specific topic such as academic honesty, ethical dilemmas in collaborative research and writing, or an area you identify.
  3. Q & A Forum: Collect the questions your doctoral students or early career faculty have about ethics and the AOM in advance, and will come prepared to answer, and discuss them.
  4. Code and Procedures FAQ: A 30-minute introduction to the AOM Code of Ethics, who does what at the Academy in the ethics area, including the role of the Ombuds and ways to get help.
  5. Discussant: An EEC member can attend an ethics session you are offering in a consortium, PDW, or symposium, and answer questions as needed about the AOM Code, Ombuds roles etc.

Please contact EEC Chair Janet Salmons (jsalmons[at]vision2lead.com or with the contact form below) to discuss ways the EEC can help ensure that new and returning members your area of the Academy are familiar with the principles and standards they agreed to uphold.