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.

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.

 

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.

Let’s explore ethics in Anaheim!

ethics clipartThe AOM annual meeting is just around the corner. If you are like me, you are sifting through the ginormous digital program to constructyou a personal schedule– and hoping it will require you to run around too much in order to attend the sessions that interest you.

If ethics is a topic of interest, perhaps this compilation of sessions will help you find the ones you want to attend:

Sessions about Ethics 
AOM 2016 Annual Meeting Custom Program for Ethics

Of course, I hope you’ll join us in the Ethics Education Committee Open Forum sessions on Saturday! All are welcome: students, practitioners, new and experienced academics from any Division.

These Open Fora give us a chance to discuss issues and concerns related to our membership in the Academy of Management as well as in our academic and professional lives. The Ethics Education Committee truly listens to the dilemmas and great examples shared in the sessions and we use the notes to guide our activities in the coming year.

Open Forum on Ethical Scholarship
Program Session: 423 | Submission: 18385 | Sponsor(s): (AAA)
Scheduled: Saturday, Aug 6 2016 4:00PM – 5:30PM at Anaheim Marriott in Elite Ballroom 1

Facilitators Janet Salmons, Deborah Mullen, and Charles Fenner will catalyze discussion about ethical dilemmas in research, instruction, and publication arenas. 

The 2nd forum will focus on global issues in Academy membership and our field. Luckily, no running is involved between our sessions!

Open Forum on Global Ethics for Business & Academia
Program Session: 454 | Submission: 18386 | Sponsor(s): (AAA)
Scheduled: Saturday, Aug 6 2016 5:45PM – 7:15PM at Anaheim Marriott in Elite Ballroom 1

Special guests: Jonas Haertle, Head, Principles for Responsible Management Education Sec & Academic Affairs, UN Global Compact Office, United Nations

and

Mark Meaney, Chairperson, North America Chapter
Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME)

PDW Making Ethical Codes Meaningful

SIM and the Ethics Education Committee collaborated on a caucus held in Vancouver. In small groups, participants examined themes and potential revisions to the AOM Code of Ethics. We are now using the notes from that caucus as we work to propose changes to the content and format of the Code. In Anaheim, SIM will offer an excellent opportunity to continue the conversation, and consider ethical codes in the context of this year’s theme of “Meaningful Organizations.” I invited Scott Taylor and Laura Spence to share information about this important PDW, and I hope to see you there! –Janet Salmons, Chair, EEC

Making Ethical Codes Meaningful – Change, Community and Voice
Scott Taylor and Laura Spence

#161 MAKING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION MEANINGFUL: MOVING FROM DE JURE CODES TO DE FACTO PRACTICE
Friday August 5, 4.15-6.15pm
Sheraton Palm Hotel, Palm East. All welcome!

If we know anything with certainty in the field of business ethics, it’s that ethical codes don’t guarantee ethical actions. Many colleagues use the Enron code of ethics in teaching to demonstrate this – a spectacularly detailed, glossy, hortatory 65 page document, that was systematically ignored and derided by most working in that unhappy organization. An extreme example of code-practice disconnect, for sure, but one that we should always have in mind when we develop and promote ethical codes, such as the one to which all AOM members are automatic signatories. Need a reminder of what it you have agreed to? Take a look here.

It is no surprise that we don’t all have the content of the AOM code memorised, and that needn’t mean that we are acting in contradiction to it. Or indeed our practise might naturally exceed the expectations set out in the AOM code. However, there are times when observable practice contravenes the code.  Whatever your position on the value of codes of conduct – and they are subject to critique themselves of course – if you are member of AOM, you have committed to following this one.

To think through and act on the potential for code-practice disconnect, we decided to put together a PDW in Anaheim this year on the topic of bringing codes into practice with a view to identifying practical steps through an interactive workshop. We asked people from Africa, Europe, North America and South America to come together and make provocative presentations about putting formal professional ethics into meaningful practice. Presenters and discussants will talk about their experiences of working with police forces, social movements, and academic colleagues, in practising and analysing how ethics happen in complex organizations.

One of the intellectual reasons for putting this workshop together was the realisation that management researchers and educators have been writing and talking about the gap between codes and practice for as long as management and organization studies has been taught and written. This observation was the central pillar of, for example, Melville Dalton’s classic book Men Who Manage (first edition 1959!): official behaviours, represented in codes and guidelines, and unofficial actions, observed in everyday organizational life, were universally characterised by being markedly different. Why have codes if we don’t intend to act on them? And as the entries on this blog to date show, the key first step is to think, talk, and write about the gaps. That’s the first purpose of this workshop.

Like Dalton, though, we also want to take a second step, towards taking action. To that end, we’re creating a space where people can listen to and talk about very concrete possibilities: social activism, implementing quotas, protecting the conditions for voices to be heard, and occupying formal offices (in AOM and in our own employing institutions). None of these things are easy to do, especially when the everyday demands of academic work is so high, and when so many positions are precarious, framed by short-term contracts, pressures to publish, managerialism, and student assessments of our teaching.

However, if we don’t take up the challenge to bring what we know about ethics to our own profession as well as to the organizations that our students work in, then what, really is the point? First, we leave ourselves open to accusations of hypocrisy – if our own house isn’t clean, then we have no right to tell others how to maintain theirs. Second, we’re likely to experience significant cognitive dissonance – and again, we know from the research we do as a community, that’s not great to live with. Finally, it’s simply the right thing to do – as a profession, despite steadily degrading working conditions, many of us still have the privilege of being (mostly) in control of our own workplaces, institutions, and practices. In that sense, we have the freedom to think about and take pro-social, progressive action in our own working lives, as well as promoting this to others.

Do join us, and come armed with your challenges and solutions relating to the practice of ethics in the Academy of Management. We are keen to have a diverse and engaged workshop, so bring some innovation and energy too!

#161 MAKING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION MEANINGFUL: MOVING FROM DE JURE CODES TO DE FACTO PRACTICE
Chair:
Laura Spence, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

Presenters:

  • Rafael Alcadipani, Sao Paulo School of Economics/FGV-EAESP, Brazil. Practising diversity in extreme organizations.
  • Yvonne Benschop, Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University, Netherlands. Formal and informal networking to promote diversity and inclusion.
  • Lauren McCarthy, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. Social movement and action, technology and feminism for inclusion.
  • Patrizia Zanoni, Hasselt University, Belgium. The challenges of engaged scholarship on diversity and inclusion.

Panel:

  • Alex Faria, Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration /FGV-EBAPE, Brazil. Practising diversity and inclusion through post- and decolonial thinking.
  • Sarah Gilmore, University of Portsmouth, UK. Bureaucracy and holding office in service of inclusion.
  • Scott Taylor, University of Birmingham, UK. Building inclusive communities.

    Discussants:

  • Eileen Kwesiga, Bryant University. HRM and diversity.
  • Nceku Nyathi, University of Cape Town, South Africa. Values based leadership.

Sponsored by the Diversity & Inclusion Theme Committee, Critical Management Studies, Gender & Diversity in Organizations, Social Issues in Management.

 

 

Ethics: What is expected of AOM Members?

ethics-cropped-1024x555Did you realize that as a member of the Academy of Management you “agree to uphold and promote the principles of the ‘AOM_Code_of_Ethics’ and to adhere to its enforced ethical standards”? Do you know what principles and standards you agreed to uphold?

Like most people, you probably think the Code of Ethics exists as a reference to consult when things go horribly wrong.   Understandably, studying the AOM Code of Ethics is probably at the very bottom of an extremely long to-do list.

So why would you read and think about the AOM Code of Ethics? First, yourightandwrongdecisions might want to know what the AOM expects of you as a member, and what you can expect of other members. Are there specific ethical guidelines you should know about, as related to participation in activities in your Divisions, committees, the annual conference or other AOM events? What about guidelines for your professional life outside of AOM– as a researcher, instructor, consultant, or as a student?

Second, you might want to know where you can find help or answers when you encounter ethical dilemmas. Who should you go to within the Academy? What are the roles of the Ethics Committee including the Ombuds Committee, the Adjudication Committee, as well as the Ethics Education Committee (EEC)?

Finally, you might want to know what is contained in the current Academy of Management Code of Ethics, so you can provide input on periodic revisions. How can we make sure this Code is up-to-date and relevant given emerging dilemmas in our world?

The Ethics Education Committee is here to help. At the coming Annual Meeting in Anaheim we can offer the following types of sessions for your meeting, Division Consortium or Committee:

  1.  Presentation and Discussion: A 60-minute interactive session on business and professional ethics, values and the AOM Code of Ethics.
  2. Overview and Q & A: 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.
  3.  Discussant: An EEC member can attend an ethics session you are offering, 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.

The EEC will also be offering these opportunities for discussion at the Annual Meeting:

  • Open Forum on Ethical Scholarship on Saturday, August 06 from 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM Anaheim Marriott, Elite Ballroom 1.
  • Open Forum on Global Ethics for Business & Academia on Saturday, August 06 from 5:45 PM – 7:15 PM at the Anaheim Marriott, Elite Ballroom 1.
  • Committee Meeting: If you are interested in joining us, our (open) meeting will be held Sunday, August 07, from 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM at the Anaheim Marriott, Elite Ballroom 1.

 

 

 

Invitation to Publish Ethics Teaching Tips

 

The Academy of Management Ethics Education Committee (EEC) focuses primarily on “educating” AOM members about how to understand our Code of Ethics and use ethical practices in our work as researchers, practitioners, and teachers. When we are in instructional roles, we have a responsibility to develop the next generation in the management field—hopefully with some sense of ethical ways to practice their chosen professions. We may teach courses devoted to business ethics, but more likely, we may want to create opportunities to incorporate a focus on ethics in courses on other leadership and management topic.

To encourage an exchange of ideas and approaches, the EEC is partnering with the Business Ethics Education Initiative at Kansas State University to publish novel tips for teaching ethics in virtual and face-to-face classrooms.  Presently, seven such tips are published on the K-State Initiative website in the section called “Ethics Education,” and soon these tips will be published here on The Ethicist as well.

The AOM Ethics Education Committee invites Academy members to submit your Teaching Tips by sending an abstract of 50 to 100 words that describes your novel method for teaching ethics, along with a link to the fuller description. Please send tips to ethics[at]vision2lead.com. For format guidance, see the examples of Teaching Tips published at the Kansas State University site in the section called “Ethics Education” at this link. Select Teaching Tips will be published here and on the K-State Ethics Education Initiative site.

See a popular example from Diane Swanson, Professor of Management at Kansas State University and Ethics Education Committee member. She uses three Star Trek characters to introduce students to ethics in decision making and the importance of moral courage. Students read her short essay “To Go Boldly! Trekking for Moral Courage” as a point of departure for exploring these topics in class.

We hope by sharing our approaches online throughout the year and at the annual conference, we can create a worthwhile forum where members can interact regarding their roles as ethical instructors who practice what they teach.

 

 

 

The Meaning of Ethics

We’re long overdue here at the Ethicist to get back into the swing of things! Obviously, we’re now looking forward to the annual meeting in Anaheim, which has an especially fortuitous theme for the Ethics Education Committee. As this year’s program chair, Mary Ann Glynn, points out, meaning and ethics are closely related issues for organizations:

Recently, there have been highly publicized corporate scandals, Wall Street corruption, and failures of government to meet the needs of its citizens, with a resulting rise in public distrust and questioning of organizations’ reasons for being.  We often take as given that an organization’s purpose to produce economic value; and, although economic value can often add to social value, sometimes it does not.  This disjuncture raises the question of meaningfulness.

Avoiding scandal and fostering trust is arguably the very meaning of ethics. And if it is true, as I think it is, that communities are essentially constituted by their ethics (show me your ethics and I’ll tell you a great deal about what kind of community you’ve got) then there’s no doubt that frequent scandals and and deepening mistrust would raise fundamental questions about an organization’s “reason for being”. What’s going on? What’s it all about? Why are we here? What does it all mean? Important issues to think about.

Nor is the academy (and even the Academy) able to keep itself entirely aloof from these questions. In the world of research, there have also been scandals and mistrust, and we need to face these issues squarely in our own research practice and communities. That’s where the Ethicist and the Ethics Education Committee would like to be of help.

We’re currently reaching out the AOM divisions to offer our help in developing and implementing ethics modules in their PDW’s and consortia sessions. It is our view that ethics is best approached as a conversation, not a merely a code of conduct. While we have the Code to guide us, the  really interesting work happens in a discussion of the details. And that conversation always has to be anchored in the actual practices that constitute the wide variety of research communities with the Academy of Management. Accordingly, our first responsibility as ethics educators is to listen and learn from members about the situations they face.

This post, then, is an invitation to engage in conversation. Feel free to leave comments below about the sorts of issues you think need to be faced, either by your own discipline or by the management field in general. Also, I am coordinating our consortia contributions this year, so if you are leading a consortium session for your division and would like include the EEC, either in your presentation or in your planning, please contact me by mail so we can work out the details.

 

The Obligation to Publish

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit melancholy about the my obligations to speak publicly about what I know. This has affected both my contributions to this blog, and my work on my longstanding blog about academic writing. It’s not, of course, that I don’t know anything, nor that I don’t have anything I want to say; it’s just a sort of reticence about engaging with others. It will, of course, pass in due time, and it’s probably not something to worry about. But it does raise an interesting ethical question: do we have an ethical obligation to say publicly what’s on our mind?

The Code tells us that we have an obligation

2. To the advancement of managerial knowledge. Prudence in research design, human subject use, and confidentiality and reporting of results is essential. Proper attribution of work is a necessity. We accomplish these aims through:

  •   Conducting and reporting. It is the duty of AOM members conducting research to design, implement, analyze, report, and present their findings rigorously.

I imagine most people read this with an emphasis on “rigorously”, i.e., as a responsibility when we do conduct research and report it to do so rigorously. But I think we do well to keep in mind that if we spent our entire scholarly careers conducting no research at all, or not reporting whatever research we did conduct, we would in fact be shirking an important responsibility.

Reporting our research opens it to criticism by our peers. It allows us to be corrected in our views wherever they happen to be erroneous. One of the most important reasons to publish, that is, is to give our peers an opportunity to tell us where we have gone wrong, so we can stop misleading our students about it, for example. But it is also a way of informing others about results that might call their previously held views into question. If I know that something you think is true is actually false (or vice versa) then I have an obligation to share that knowledge with you. That’s part of what it means to be an academic.

There’s an interesting variation on this theme in the current discussion of the publication of “null results”. If 9 out of 10 studies show no significant effect of a particular managerial practice, but only the 1 out of 10 studies that shows an effect is published, then we are being systematically misled about the efficacy of that practice. And yet, in today’s publishing culture, authors and journals are much less incentivized to publish null results than significant ones.

The Code does say that it is the responsibility of “journal editors and reviewers [towards the larger goal of advancing managerial knowledge] to exercise the privilege of their positions in a confidential, unbiased, prompt, constructive, and sensitive manner.” Perhaps I’m once again grasping at straws, but it is possible to construe “unbiased” as requiring us to publish valid but insignificant findings, i.e., studies that show no effect where one was hypothesized.

This becomes a personal ethical concern for individual scholars when they don’t publish results that call their own favoured theory into question, always, of course, citing the unwillingness of journals to publish null results. But whether it’s the authors or the editors that are to blame, the overall effect is that the truth remains hidden. So, in a sense, it is a species of dishonesty.

For that reason alone, I hope this melancholy of mine soon passes and that I once again start doing the responsible thing, namely, putting my ideas out there for all to see.