Thanks to everyone who participated in Ethics Education Committee PDWs, Caucus, Consortia, and meetings in Atlanta! We’re in the process of assembling notes, slides, and resources to share. We are already thinking ahead to Chicago, so feel free to share your ideas!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more information on the Academy’s Ethics webpage: www.AOM.org/ethics.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
I’ve been quiet for a couple of months – summer schedule and all – and wanted to get back to the blogosphere. I’ll try and be more diligent.
Many strange things have been brought to my attention over the summer, but I thought I would start with a more personal experience. That way, if anyone want’s to comment, at least one side of the equation is available.
Last spring we sent a paper in to an unnamed FT50 journal. Normally, these top journals reply within three months – at least – that has been my experience until now, for the most part. One consequence of the enhanced competitive environment is that journal editors seem to invite submissions by promising faster turn around.
In any case, a full six months went by, without hearing from the journal. As a result, I contacted the editor directly. The editor immediately responded, on a Friday, by saying “I should have contacted him earlier” and that he would ‘get on it’. By Monday, we had our rejection, along with only one review, and a note from the editor saying he was unable to get a second review. He didn’t even bother adding his own comments to the rejection letter. Needless to say, the first review was not very helpful, but that is beside the point. This little exchange once again brings me to question the authority, transparency, and lack of professionalism sometime exhibited by editors of even top journals. One cannot help wondering, given the importance of these gate-keeping roles, how it happens that we have processes that appear cavalier, with no recourse regarding accountability, transparency, appeal, or arbitration. In this particular case, my career does not hinge on the outcome – but I must report – in many cases where individual careers are in jeopardy, I have more often observed arrogance than compassion.
So, this brings me to raise an important question – and I must highlight – this question does NOT apply to Academy of Management journals, where transparency and fairness seems to be much more institutionalized.
Who appoints these people as editors?
Who governs their behavior?
Why do we allow autocratic and incompetent behavior by editors, even of prestigious journals?
In my view, we have a serious professional need for an equivalent of ‘rate my professor’ for academic journals. Such an idea was posed a few years ago in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Robert Deaner who called for a “consumer reports for journals”. We could monitor and evaluate the review process, the editorial process, the time taken, and other aspects of peer review. If anyone is interested in starting such an activity, please let me know – as I think we really need some monitoring out there.
The 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
Mark Meaney, Chairperson, North America Chapter
Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME)
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
by Mary Sue Love, Ph.D.
AOM Ombuds Committee
In a recent blog post from AOM Ombuds Greg Stephens, he introduced the Ombuds service and promised to speak to each of the International Ombudsman Association principles. As another AOM Ombuds, today, I want to talk about being neutral and impartial, particularly our “responsibility to consider the legitimate concerns and interests of all individuals affected by the matter” and our commitment to help “develop a range of responsible options to resolve problems” (See: https://www.ombudsassociation.org/IOA_Main/media/SiteFiles/IOA_Standards_of_Practice_Oct09.pdf).
Last month, my son’s roommate dropped by, and as she was venting about his lack of communication, I heard myself say, ‘you won’t be roommates for very long if you approach the situation like that.’ Needless to say, that was not neutral or impartial…and it ended up causing even more stress for my son as she went home angry, not just at him, but now at me too!
Last week, she dropped by again with a new list of complaints. This time, I didn’t scold her or tell her how to manage my son. I asked questions about her perspective, and then about his. Two marvelous things happened; first she didn’t get angry and storm out (good for my son). But more importantly, after her feelings and concerns were acknowledged, she was able to be a bit more reflective about his perspective, what he might be thinking and feeling in the situation. That’s exactly why Ombuds need to be neutral and impartial.
It’s our job to help you understand:
- the situation,
- your reaction,
- the other party’s stance,
- and find a well-rounded perspective with possibilities for resolving your dispute.
My son and his roommate are still struggling to find a resolution to their very different living styles. But, this time, I behaved differently. I put on my Ombuds hat, I didn’t judge, I didn’t lead. Will it resolve their dispute? No, of course not. But, her new perspective just might give them a chance!
Stone, Patton, and Heen call this the ‘third story,’ in their book Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, or a perspective that both sides can agree on. While it’s work, it’s work worth doing. Here’s a bit more on the concept: http://www.pon.harvard.edu/daily/conflict-resolution/telling-the-third-story/.
As a matter of fact, we’ll use this and many other concepts in our PDW “Why Can’t We All Just Get along? Practical Conflict-Management Techniques and the Role of the Ombudspersons” in Anaheim on August 6th at 3:15 PM (Hilton Anaheim, Catalina 4) http://my.aom.org/program2016/SessionDetails.aspx?sid=11002. We’ll share and practice helpful conflict management techniques and offer a Q & A on the role of the ombuds.
And, if you need help with your roommate, or if you just like the artwork above (which is theirs), here’s one group of students’ work on roommate/relationship conflict http://stopthefight.org/?page_id=64.
We look forward to discussing the ethical dilemmas you are encountering in your academic and professional lives, and in your interactions as an AOM member.