Evaluate the role that personal ethics plays in making decisions.
Analyze the decision-making techniques that can be applied in different types of organizations.
Select an organization where unethical decision-making resulted in negative consequences.
Using two decision-making techniques, compare and contrast how using the techniques may have resulted in a positive consequence.
Support your paper with minimum of three (3) scholarly resources. In addition to these specified resources, other appropriate scholarly resources, including older articles, may be included.
Length: 5-7 pages not including title and reference pages.
Your paper should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.
Leader Ethical Decision-Making in Organizations: Strategies for Sensemaking
Chase E. Thiel • Zhanna Bagdasarov • Lauren Harkrider • James F. Johnson • Michael D. Mumford
Published online: 4 April 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012
Abstract Organizational leaders face environmental challenges and pressures that put them under ethical risk. Navigating this ethical risk is demanding given the dynamics of contemporary organizations. Traditional models of ethical decision-making (EDM) are an inadequate framework for understanding how leaders respond to ethical dilemmas under conditions of uncertainty and equivocality. Sensemaking models more accurately illustrate leader EDM and account for individual, social, and environmental constraints. Using the sensemaking approach as a foundation, previous EDM models are revised and extended to comprise a conceptual model of leader EDM. Moreover, the underlying factors in the model are highlighted—constraints and strategies. Four trainable, compensatory strategies (emotion regulation, self-reﬂection, forecasting, and information integration) are proposed and described that aid leaders in navigating ethical dilemmas in organizations. Empirical examinations demonstrate that tactical application of the strategies may aid leaders in making sense of complex and ambiguous ethical dilemmas and promote ethical behavior. Compensatory tactics such as these should be central to organizational ethics initiatives at the leader level.
Keywords Cognitive strategies Ethical behavior Ethical decision-making Leadership Sensemaking
Corporate and ﬁnancial misconduct amidst the recent world ﬁnancial crises, such as the predatory subprime lending practices of Ameriquest, Goldman Sachs, and IndyMac Bank, have left few wondering whether ethics in leadership should be of greater focus moving forward (Muolo and Padilla 2010; Paletta and Enrich 2008). Government and public ofﬁcials including the Securities and Exchange Commission and The United States Senate have questioned organizational leaders over their dubious and, seemingly, misguided decision-making (Pulliam et al. 2010; Securities and Exchange Commission 2010). They wonder how such gross misconduct could occur even when organizational policies and guidelines exist to safeguard against unethical practices. Is it because today’s leaders have less integrity and are prone to behave unethically? Under the rationalist or moral reasoning approach to leader ethical decision-making (EDM) such a conclusion might be accepted. EDM theories grounded in moral reasoning arguments posit that leaders ﬁrst recognize ethical problems and then apply their moral code or principles to ethical situations (e.g., Jones 1991; Kohlberg 1981, 1984; Rest 1986)—suggesting that leaders today are either ignorant of the ethical dilemmas present in complex organizations or that leaders possess values or internal codes of conduct that are ‘‘less ethical.’’ The limitation of this theoretical approach, as demonstrated by Sonenshein (2007), is that ethical awareness is grossly misunderstood and under simpliﬁed. Moreover, intuitive processes are not recognized or integrated. Sonenshein and others have provided an alternative framework, one grounded in sense making, which lays a foundation for attributing constraining factors to leader EDM and for proposing compensating strategies. Rather than suggest ethical misconduct occurs because leaders today possess less ethical values, ethical misconduct may stem from the difﬁculties leaders have with accurately making sense of the dynamic business environment or other cognitive limitations. Sensemaking is the complex cognitive process engaged in when one is faced with complex and high-risk situations (Drazinetal. 1999;Weick1995).Individualandsocialfactors appreciably inﬂuence sensemaking as environmental complexity increases. Given that contemporary organizations are deﬁned by less structure and are generally more ﬂuid and transitional(Barkemaetal.2002;SchneiderandSomers2006; Uhl-Bien et al. 2007), current leaders may be more prone to unethicalbehaviorbecausetheyfaceethicaldilemmasthatare simply more difﬁcult to navigate. Sonenshein’s (2007) model addresses the pervasiveness of organizational uncertainty and equivocality and the processes through which individuals manage these conditions. Throughout this paper we arguethat leader EDM is better understood through a sensemaking perspective, which incorporates how leaders uniquely construct and make sense of ethical issues amidst complex environments.
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