Bullying and the AOM Code of Ethics

Bullying is not mentioned by name in the AOM Code of Ethics. However, principles laid out in the Code make it clear that such behaviors are not appropriate. Members commit to uphold these principles when joining the association. By understanding AOM’s expectations and knowing about the help available for dealing with problematic situations, we can improve our own professional ethics and serve as a resource to others.

  • The principle of responsibility points to the importance of trusting relationships and the necessity of avoiding conflicts of interest that could lead to exploitation or harm.
  • The principle of integrity states that members treat students, colleagues, research subjects, and clients with respect, dignity, fairness, and caring.
  • The principle of respect for people’s rights and dignity affirms the worth of all people and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination. This principle clarifies the expectation for awareness and respect for cultural, individual, and role differences. Members try to eliminate the effect on their own work of biases based on these factors, and do not knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon such prejudices. The AOM and its members are committed to providing academic and professional work environments that are free of sexual harassment and all forms of sexual intimidation and exploitation.

AOM’s principles are guideposts for members’ attitudes and actions. The Code of Ethics is enforceable when we are interacting with others in our Divisions or Committees, at conferences or AOM-sponsored events. In other words, we have the right to address any issues we experience or observe.  Review the Policies and Procedures or send an email to the Ombuds Committee with any questions:  ethics@aom.org. While not enforceable outside of AOM activities, the Code articulates aspirational goals that guide us toward the highest ideals of research, teaching, practice, and service.

The annual conference for 2018 focused on Improving Lives, and the conference for 2019 will focus on Inclusion. These themes call us to re-examine our academic and professional lives and recommit to principles articulated in our Code of Ethics.

The following post was previously published on SAGE MethodSpace.

Bullying: Bad for People, Bad for Scholarship

Bully

Bullying in the academic workplace keeps coming up in conversations with faculty and graduate students. I’ve discovered a new term for the safe spaces where people reveal such confidences: hush harbors (Nunley 2011). I would like to think that a commitment to higher education translates into a commitment to acting from a higher calling, but alas, when I find myself in a hush harbor, stories about bullying abound. I’ve had enough first-hand experience to know that these stories are real.

I decided to take a look at the literature—what do researchers find when they study their own workplaces? What strategies do they recommend? This is far from an exhaustive exploration of research on bullying, but hopefully you will find some helpful background on the problem, and tips for preventing or addressing it.

Is bullying endemic to academia?

While bullying is present in all kinds of workplaces, such behaviors are apparently exacerbated by power structures particular to higher education.  One adjunct instructor, frustrated by inaction at her university, observed that “the highly competitive, hierarchical atmosphere of academia is well-known as a fertile breeding ground for bullying behavior” (Anonymous, 2018). While much of this activity is private, unreported, and hidden, the incidence of bullying is much higher in academia than in other professional settings (Hollis, 2013).

Bullying in academic institutions has implications beyond the individual suffering. These behaviors can also create a chilling effect on the important work of academia: to teach and develop future scholars who are respectful of each other and can work across disciplines and diverse cultures to conduct and write about research. Keashly and Neuman (2010) found that intellectual inquiry, independent thought, and reasoned discussion suffer in environments where bullying is allowed to continue without consequence. Victims (and those around them) too often remain silent, in fear of retaliation that could sabotage their graduate studies, opportunities to publish, and/or careers.

What is bullying?

Bullying is a pattern of behavior involving repeated unreasonable actions of an individual or group of individuals toward another, which have the intention of shaming, dishonoring, intimidating, and disheartening, and which create a risk to the health or safety of another (SHARP, 2012). Academic incivility includes rude and disrespectful behaviors such as

  • giving colleagues or subordinates the silent treatment
  • micromanagement
  • constant criticism
  • gossip
  • exclusion
  • patronizing behavior
  • belittling others’ work
  • taking credit for others’ work. (Clark et al., 2013).

In our information-intensive age, many of these forms of bullying can take place online, with repercussions that extend beyond one’s own department. The Internet and social media offer new ways for bullies to transmit harmful text messages, photos, or video, sometimes anonymously (Washington, 2014). It is easy to share private information without permission (Condon, 2014), for example, forwarding personal email, posting someone’s ideas out of context, or distributing work-in-progress shared in an informal setting.

What can we do about bullying? 

All of the writers referenced here discussed the fact that having a policy in place is essential but inadequate. A policy document buried on the university website is useless without ongoing attention to the problems. Wright and Hill (2015) suggest that institutions define and discuss a clear strategy for confidential reporting with impunity for victims, and establish consequences for the perpetrators” (p. 17).  An ombuds office that offers a neutral advice about how to address a situation can be an important component of a holistic campus-wide approach.

Wright and Hill (2015) recommend making collegiality, that is, demonstrating a spirit of community and collaboration, a key component of tenure and promotion requirements and faculty evaluations. Rather than pretend that bullying doesn’t exist, discuss and address incidences of incivility. Mentoring and coaching by chairs or senior faculty, particularly with new faculty and graduate students, can help to communicate expectations and options for dealing with difficult situations (Metzger, Petit, & Sieber, 2015).

At the individual level, speaking up is easier said than done and confrontation with the bully is almost never productive (King & Piotrowski, 2015). Practical advice for individuals includes keeping records of specific incidents, submitting corroborative evidence of incivility or incidents directly to the bully’s immediate supervisor, and documenting any and all complaints (King & Piotrowski, 2015).  Sedivy-Benton et al. (2015) suggest a key survival strategy: detachment from the environment in which bullying occurred and attachment to another positive, supportive environment. In such an environment, a hush harbor, collegiality and productive relationships can take away some of the pressure inherent in a hostile environment.

Karen Pyke, past president of the Pacific Sociological Association, called for sociologists “to embrace our professional responsibilities and apply our scholarly knowledge and commitments to the reduction of inequality in our own workplace. If we can’t do it here, can we do it anywhere?” (Pyke, 2018) Surely her question applies to all disciplines! How will you—and your institution—answer it? Please use the comment area to share relevant studies or strategies.

 

References

Anonymous. (2018). We need a bigger conversation about bullying in academia. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2018/jan/26/we-need-a-bigger-conversation-about-bullying-in-academia

Clark, C. M. (2013). National study on faculty-to-faculty incivility: Strategies to foster collegiality and civility. Nurse Educator38, 98-102.

Collins, N. R., & Rogers, B. (2017). Growing concerns with workplace incivility. Workplace Health & Safety, 65(11), 564-564. doi:10.1177/2165079917719468

Condon, B. B. (2014). Incivility as bullying in nursing education. Nursing Science Quarterly, 28(1), 21-26. doi:10.1177/0894318414558617

Keashly, L., & Neuman, J. H. (2010). Faculty experiences with bullying in higher education: Causes, consequences, and management. Administrative Theory & Praxis32, 48-70.

King, C., & Piotrowski, C. (2015). Bullying of educators by educators: Incivility in higher education. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 8(4), 257-262.

Metzger, A. M., Petit, A., & Sieber, S. (2015). Mentoring as a way to change a culture of academic bullying and mobbing in the humanities. Higher Education for the Future, 2(2), 139-150. doi:10.1177/2347631115584119

Misawa, M., & Rowland, M. L. (2014). Academic bullying and incivility in adult, higher, continuing, and professional education. Adult Learning, 26(1), 3-5. doi:10.1177/1045159514558415

Nunley, Vorris L. 2011. Keepin’ it hushed: The barbershop and African American hush harbor rhetoric. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University.

Pyke, K. D. (2018). Institutional betrayal: Inequity, discrimination, bullying, and retaliation in academia. Sociological Perspectives, 61(1), 5-13. doi:10.1177/0731121417743816

Sedivy-Benton, A., Strohschen, G., Cavazos, N., & Boden-McGill, C. (2014). Good ol’ boys, mean girls, and tyrants: a phenomenological study of the lived experiences and survival strategies of bullied women adult educators. Adult Learning, 26(1), 35-41. doi:10.1177/1045159514558411

SHARP (Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention) Program. (2012). Workplace Bullying and Disruptive Behavior: What Everyone Needs to Know. Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

Washington, E. T. (2014). An overview of cyberbullying in higher education. Adult Learning, 26(1), 21-27. doi:10.1177/1045159514558412

Covert Research & Consent: RM Winning Paper

“Reconsidering the Value of Covert Research: The Role of Ambiguous Consent in Participant Observation”  (Roulet, Gill, Stenger, & Gill, 2017) will be awarded best paper for 2017 by the Academy of Management Research Methods division. The study was published in the SAGE journal, Organizational Research Methods, and is open access through this link.

This thought-provoking paper raises a number of questions not only about the nature of informed consent in organizational research, but also about constraints presented by the codes of ethics and guidelines researchers are compelled to follow. To learn more, I posed a few questions to lead author Thomas Roulet.


JS: You mentioned the Academy of Management Code of Ethics, which specifically states that informed consent should be obtained for all research. Do you recommend that this language be amended? If so, what would you suggest to change the wording, while respecting the principle of “Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity” spelled out in the AOM Code?

TR: Yes, our point is that obtaining full “informed consent” from all participants is more of an unreachable myth than anything else in ethnographic research – because consent is by nature ambiguous. Participants might consent at a point in time then change their mind, they might not comprehend the role of the researcher or the purpose of the enquiry in the same way the researcher does, etc.

Consent does matter in most cases, but the limitations of this mechanism need to be acknowledged in the AOM codes of ethics. The nature of the consent should definitely be documented in research papers, but a requirement to obtain informed consent is probably too strong.

JS: You discuss the perspective that “if something can be unanimously accepted as positive, it is the right course of action” (p. 502). In practical research terms, how could this perspective be used? Who would need to be consulted to verify that the agreement is unanimous? For example, if the managers or gatekeepers are unanimous about a covert study of employees, but no employees are consulted, would researchers proceed or insist that some employees be included in a discussion of the merits of the study?

TR: There we talk about the consequentialist perspective as one way to justify covert research – The consequentialist argument is the most commonly used in support of deception in research design as it stresses the necessity to be under cover in some cases to research important topics and produce work that can have positive social impact. As we point out, this approach is important but can be a bit simplistic – how do we compare the cost and benefits of a course of action? (the Rawlsian critique). That’s why we advance a situated ethics perspective where researchers are asked to revise their evaluation of the ethicality of their research on a regular basis.

Ethics committees in universities could examine whether the benefits of a research for society would justify deviance from the norm of informed consent.

Managers and gatekeepers can be unanimous about a covert study (that’s what can be understood in the case of Bernstein’s study of a Chinese factory) but involving employees into assessing risks and benefits of the study would be indeed more respectful and avoid the study being seen as managerial tool rather than objective and useful research.

JS: I spent a lot of my career as a research supervisor for doctoral students. The situated ethics approach you recommend seems to suggest that researchers reflect deeply and “morally question” potential actions and choices (p. 503). Do you see a role for research supervisors in facilitating such reflection? Do you think situated ethics should be taught in research methods courses? For that matter, should students be taught skills associated with researcher identity?

TR: The “situated ethics” perspective is sort of a “Bayesian” approach to ethical questioning in research – the researcher needs to question and challenge her or his moral situation at each stage of the data collection.

Supervisors can definitely play a role by questioning the ethical aspects of their students’ work and research design. Situated ethics do require confrontation of points of view and external assessment – although not necessarily possible during field work- can be of great use.

JS: The use of covert observation or covert participant observation in online studies has been widely discussed. Did you examine any online studies, or did you purposely decide to focus on studies conducted in on-site organizations?

TR: We did mostly focus on physical presence but you raise an important question and I’m not familiar with the work you mention. Consent in netnography is indeed quite often neglected – online data can be collected without the knowledge or consent of participants.

Covert research is in some way easier online as people can more easily create fake persona for themselves (I’m thinking about this paper:  Brotsky, S. R., & Giles, D. (2007). Inside the “pro-ana” community: A covert online participant observation. Eating disorders15(2), 93-109.)

JS: Briefly describe how and why you and your co-authors decided to write this article. Given the ethical dilemmas and gray areas you discussed in the article, were all of you in agreement? What was most challenging about the process?

TR: My co author Seb Stenger and I published a paper based on covert participant observation (published in the journal of the British Sociological Association – Work employment and society). We had a lot of discussion – also with Michael and David Gill who shaped the paper with us. Michael brought a lot of methodological expertise, and I brought my understanding of various ethical perspectives.

Stenger, S., & Roulet, T. J. (2018). Pride against prejudice? The stakes of concealment and disclosure of a stigmatized identity for gay and lesbian auditorsWork, Employment and Society32(2), 257-273.

JS: Did you receive any push-back from the journal about the content of the article? Did reviewers raise questions? Did you have to make substantive revisions?

TR: Overall the reviewers and the editor were very supportive – they asked us to beef up the aspects of the manuscript about the ethics of research and offer a wide range of perspective. We were also pushed to compare different fields, which I think was very useful to develop the manuscript. We had three rounds of fairly intense revision but it was a very developmental and enjoyable process (and we know how revision can be very painful!).

JS: What suggestions do you have for researchers who want to rock the proverbial boat and publish articles that question established traditions?

TR: I think it can be very hard to publish more controversial papers (counterintuitive results, or methods). You have to provide stronger evidence, stronger and more developed arguments. But once published the impact on the field is greater and hopefully it can open up new debates!

 

Roulet, T. J., Gill, M. J., Stenger, S., & Gill, D. J. (2017). Reconsidering the value of covert research: The role of ambiguous consent in participant observation. Organizational Research Methods, 20(3), 487-517. doi:10.1177/1094428117698745


Learn more about research ethics from resources collected in these SAGE Research Methods Reading Lists!

 

Note: This post previously appeared on SAGE Publications MethodSpace.

Interactive & Lively: Ethics Events in Chicago

The AOM Ethics Education Committee believes that dialogue is critical. As scholars, we need to identify ethical dilemmas and figure out how to study them. As students, academics, and practitioners, we need to figure out how to interpret and act on ethical principles.  In both cases we must wrestle with implications for our own professional and personal lives.

We invite all members– including new and student members– to join us for meaningful discussions. After the conference, we will post the insights and practical strategies that emerge from these sessions.

eec-at-aom-2018

  • Integrity Meets Creativity:
    Keeping Honest in Academic Writing 

    PDW Workshop. Session Sponsor(s): (MED)
    Friday, Aug 10 2018 8:00AM – 10:00AM
    at Hyatt Regency Chicago in Gold Coast

    Moderator: Janet E. Salmons, Vision2Lead
    Presenter: Nancy E. Day, Member & Ombuds Ethics Committee Chair
    Presenter: Rebecca Wendy Frankel, Sage Publications Presenter: Rachel McCullagh Balven, Arizona State U.

    Academic writers must find a balance between presenting original work expressed in our own scholarly voices, and situating that work within the literature of the field. This classic challenge is made more difficult in the cut-and-paste digital age. The AOM Code of Ethics and guidelines for scholarly journals clearly discourage plagiarism. While it is essential to avoid plagiarism, this is a low standard for AOM members, who should be making significant contributions to the advancement of our field. This workshop will focus on promoting originality and honesty in research and writing. We will review intellectual property laws relating to copyright and image permissions that can trip up well-intentioned researchers who seek to publish their work. We will frame the discussion using the originality continuum (Salmons, 2007, in press http://bit.ly/2AEnIwb) that differentiates between writing that is unethical, such as plagiarized writing, and writing that is not only ethical, but creative and nuanced.

  • Ethics Forum — Giving Voice To Values: Being Ethical in a Conflicted World

    Sponsor(s): (AAA)
    Saturday, Aug 11 2018 4:00PM – 5:30PM
    at Hyatt Regency Chicago in Plaza A

    AOM Ethics Forum  Organizer: Janet E. Salmons, Vision2Lead
    Presenter: Mary Gentile, U. of Virginia Darden School of Business

    Giving Voice to Values (GVV) is an innovative approach to promoting a higher level of integrity in education and the workplace. Drawing on actual experience as well as scholarship, GVV fills a long-standing and critical gap in the development of values-centered leaders. 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 curriculum is about raising those odds. In this informal session, GVV founder and director Dr. Gentile will explain the rationale and principles behind this empowering approach to developing the ethical muscles – the skills and confidence – required to voice and act on our values.

  • Ethics Forum — The Internet Challenge to Publishing Ethics

    Sponsor(s): (AAA)
    Saturday, Aug 11 2018 5:45PM – 7:15PM
    at Hyatt Regency Chicago in Plaza A

    Organizer: Janet E. Salmons, Vision2Lead
    Presenter: Benson Honig, McMaster U.

    Publishing ethics evolved in the pre-Internet days. They are essentially a codification of best practice, where best practice reflects the publishing infrastructure of the time. Much as has changed. The Internet has made double blind reviewing more difficult. It poses challenges to authors as well as reviewers. Many conferences now demand that your paper has not presented in other conferences. Are you violating ethics if you present a version of your paper twice, to different audiences? Are you violating ethics if you present some of your results in a webinar, blog, or on social media? This open forum with current and former journal editors will offer the opportunity for a lively discussion about emerging ethical dilemmas for researchers who want to publish and present their work in-person and online.

  • Improving Grad Student Lives: Tools for When You Feel Powerless – Power Issues in AOM and Academia 

    Caucus
    Tuesday, Aug 14 2018 11:30AM – 1:00PM
    at Swissôtel Chicago in Rhone

    Organizers: Deborah M. Mullen, U. of Tennessee, Chattanooga and Rachel McCullagh Balven, Arizona State U.

    This caucus invites students and faculty to engage in a discussion about power issues inherent in graduate education, academia, and AOM. Using cases, the session will explore issue reporting, techniques for resolution, and tools for diffusing situations and self-care. Participants are encouraged to bring cases for discussion.

    Special thanks to the College of Business Ethics Education Initiative at Kansas State University for sponsoring events at this year’s conference!

EEC at AOM in Chicago

Join us! Get involved! 

PDW: And Yet She Persisted: Tools for Succeeding as a Woman Academic

The AOM Ethics Education Committee welcomes the focus on ethics themes by members who are presenting valuable sessions at the annual conference. This is one of the sessions we are highlighting. Find others here. After the conference, we welcome these presenters to share insights, themes, or resources on The Ethicist.

All are cordially invited to this AOM All Academy Theme PDW focusing on the biases women academics face at work and how they overcome them or persist throw them. Bias in the workplace is a both a practical challenge with which many of us grapple, as well as an ethical issue. The AOM Code of Ethics calls us to “respect the dignity and worth of all people” and core to that mission is seeking to remediate the biases in our environments. We would love to add your voices to this conversation.

Women academics face challenging circumstances in their professional lives. Relative to their male colleagues, they can expect longer review times (Hengel, 2016), less credit for their research contributions when working in a team (Sarsons, 2017), biased evaluations of their teaching from students (Mengel, et al., 2017, Boring, et al., 2016), and more. This PDW seeks to raise awareness of the challenges women academics face and to provide some tools to overcome them.

AOM All Academy Theme PDW. Program Session: 581

Scheduled: Sunday, August 12, 10 am – 12:30 pm, Hyatt Regency.

Speaker: Emily Block
Speaker: Donna Blancero
Speaker: Annabelle Gawer
Speaker: Aparna Joshi
Speaker: Sarah Kaplan
Speaker: Xioawei Rose Luo
Speaker: Margaret Neale
Speaker: Kathleen Sutcliffe
Co-Chair: Maria Farkas & Sara Soderstrom

Facilitators: Grace Augustine, Shelby Gai, Kathryn Heinze, Aparna Joshi, Laura Kray, Celia Moore, Jo-Ellen Pozner, & Flannery Stevens

The PDW has two parts:

Part 1: Stories of persistence: Seven accomplished women academics share a story about a challenge they faced in their career and how they overcame it. We will also share findings from a survey on the different experiences of men and women academics in business schools and the tools and resources that enabled them to deal with challenges.

Part 2:  Tools of persistence: In facilitated break-out groups, we will share resources and discuss solutions to particular challenges for women academics. Topics may include: support through professional organizations, sponsorship AND mentorship, mobilizing your university to create support for women academics, self-advocacy, teaching, and research collaborations.

If you wish to attend, please register at this link – And Yet She Persisted Registration. You will be asked to identify your preferred break-out group topic.

The Damage Our Stories Can Create

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

Consider the self-fulfilling prophecy and the role of assumptions and stories in this cycle; two people work together productively for many years, collaborating on a variety of scholarly works. After a while, though, one of them is interviewed for a podcast, and refers to their work as “my” work, and uses “I” in response to the interviewer’s questions. The other, hearing this seemingly selfish appropriation of their collaboration, begins to wonder whether her collaborator really respects her contributions. That doubt, and the subsequent questions about mutual respect, begins to take root in her mind. Concerned that her collaborator may have ulterior motives, she begins to withhold certain ideas, worried that he might take them for his own. He, in turn, begins to wonder why she is suddenly and seemingly less creative and less interested in the collaboration they once enjoyed. It doesn’t take long before they both start looking elsewhere for professional collaboration and stimulation, and a promising and productive relationship begins to die.

Any attorney or police officer will tell you that most people make terrible eye witnesses. Why? Because we rarely have all the facts, but in the same way that nature abhors a vacuum, our minds abhor an incomplete understanding of a situation. So, we intuitively generate stories (we in the social sciences would call them hypotheses) to fill in the gaps. The problem lies in that, all too often, we believe those stories as if they were fact. And unlike the hypotheses we generate in our research, because we think of them as facts, we don’t explore them or test them to find out if they are accurate. Not surprisingly, difficulties inevitably follow.

As Ombuds, an important part of our role and function is to help our visitors to differentiate between fact and story, challenge their stories, explore plausible alternatives, and then determine ways to discover whether and which stories might be true. A key element of this process is to move away from accusation and toward curiosity. Simply differentiating story from fact, and acknowledging that the story might not be true, is often enough to replace pain and accusation with curiosity, leading to questions rather than recriminations.

Strong relationships, whether professional or personal, necessarily require a certain forbearance, a willingness to think of the other with tolerance rather than leaping immediately to the worst possible story when confronted with what seems like ill behavior. Yes, there is risk in that stance, but without it, the risk of unhealthy or sundered relationships may be even greater.

The following passage is attributed to the Buddha: “If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.” As Ombuds, we would suggest that if the answer to the first question is “possibly not,” then your attitude should properly be one of curiosity, and your subsequent actions should be built around healthy dialogue. With that mindset, many of the issues that come our way each year would quite likely be resolved without the need of a neutral third party.

So, what are your stories about those with whom you work?

Ombuds and “Informality”

by Mary Sue Love, AOM Ombuds

juggling tasksI’ve been struggling with a work decision recently. It may come as no surprise to many mid-career academics, but I was feeling over committed and I needed to let at least one service role go.  I’ve attended meetings and listened to about seven different perspectives on whether to let go of this particular officer role.  I’d have loved to talk in detail with any of these seven people, but I knew their perspectives and I didn’t want to be convinced to stay; I just wanted to sort through all of their points and see how they could help inform my choice.  The problem: I was torn and didn’t really know exactly what I wanted, what my motives were, and what was best for me and the organization I was poorly serving.  I needed someone who would listen and help me clarify my own perspective, not share one more!

Turns out, this is exactly when an Ombuds can be helpful.  Not only must they remain neutral, but being informal is much more than just not taking notes or putting anyone on record. Last year, the AoM Ombuds committee started a series of posts on the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice . AOM Ombuds Greg Stephens started the series with general information on the role of an ombuds; then I wrote about neutrality and impartiality. Nancy Day wrote about confidentiality, then Greg wrote on independence.

I’m finishing our series with a discussion on informality, something I recently turned to an Ombuds for myself.  Last spring, Nancy posted on the topic for her university. She does a great job of defining informality, saying, “being an informal resource means I can help you think about your problem in different ways that may help address it without going through the complications of a formal process such as a grievance. Working with me is off-the-record, and no one will know you’ve been to see me unless you tell them.”  She’s right, according to the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice, informality means we are ‘off the record,’ we don’t make binding decisions, and we do not participate in any formal procedures.

You might ask, then, what can an Ombuds do, and how can one help me decide whether to drop this committee obligation?  Ombuds can listen, help you identify issues, discuss a range of options, reframe things, just like Nancy said in her post. But why is this so powerful?

Renowned psychologist Carl Rogers spoke to this in his 1958 address to the American Personnel and Guidance Association.  Titled “The Characteristics of a Helping Relationship,” and reprinted in his book “On Becoming a Person,” many other places, and here , Rogers describes the undeniable magic that can happen when a person is listened to by another who is genuine, empathetic, and non-judgmental.  In this safe space, the individual is able to speak freely and have her ideas and feelings clarified.  In so doing, Rogers found that patients often were able to develop workable solutions to their own problems.  This was quite a departure from the more prescriptive psychological theories of Rogers’ day.

Today I want to share just how magical it is when someone helps you sort through your own mess of thoughts and feelings to find your own workable solution.  I started my conversation with the Ombuds by sharing the nuts and bolts of my obligations, my thoughts as to why this was the one commitment to let go, and the reasons others thought this was a bad idea on my part.  For the first time in weeks, I was able to talk about the issues without fear of judgment and without being pressured by others. Part of my confusion was in the thought of letting down so many other committed individuals. Yet part of what they weren’t hearing from me was how I felt I was already letting them down by not being able to give the role all the time and dedication it required. About halfway through my second round of being listened to without judgment, I started to hear myself say “I can’t fulfill the obligations of this role and…” The last three times I’d started that sentence, I’d been cut off by one of those seven other perspectives.  However, my informal Ombuds didn’t cut me off, she let me talk through all my mixed motives. So as I listened to the last half of that sentence for the first time, my decision gelled and the force of it resonated within me.

The tone of the conversation changed as I gained enthusiasm and momentum for my decision.  We quickly moved from my fears to real solutions.  By the time we finished the conversation, I had a plan for next steps.  Because I was clear with myself, I was able to articulate my decision to others in a way that helped strengthen the leadership team instead of leaving them in the lurch.  It’s been about six weeks since I made the decision to step down from leadership and focus on the sub-committee work for this fledgling organization. I feel better, obviously, but because I took the time to sort my thoughts and feelings with an Ombuds, I was able to find a resolution that benefitted not just me but the organization too.

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.