Ethical Decision Making in Organizations

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Is it for the greater good?

Is it fair?

Is it ethical?

The questions are simple. Or so it seems. On a day to day basis we are confronted with the dilemma of what decisions to make. Ethics refers to the decisions we make depending on what we believe is right or wrong, good or bad. Ethics is the manifestation of a person’s values. One might value commitment; the ethical manifestation is to consistently work out romantic disputes or to remain devoted to one’s partner despite the distance.

Whether at home, in school, or at work, there are always ethical issues we come face to face with. It seems a difficult task because doing what is right may not always be pleasing, beneficial and favorable to us. Personal interests conflict our ethical conduct. When we decide for ourselves, we shape our own character alone, affect a few people around us, and deal with the outcome of our actions. In the context of organizations, however, ethics varies in that most decisions are affective of the organization’s stakeholders – investors, employees, customers, etc. thus, making ethical decision-making in organizations crucial.

Dubrin (2005) wrote “Fundamentals of Organizational Behavior” and introduced the criteria for ethical decision-making in the workplace. The first of which involves focusing on consequences or the act of evaluating the pros and cons of the decision. So long as no harm be done to anyone, the decision is considered ethical. The second criterion involves focusing on duties, obligations, and principles. Primarily, the decision maker needs to identify his/her duties in arriving at the decision. It is also important to protect people’s rights in the process and take into account established universal principles. The final criterion for making ethical decisions includes focusing on the integrity of the person involved in the decision making action or virtue ethics. Integrity may be interpreted differently in various organizations but in particular it is usually related to trustworthiness.

As decision making is an inherent process in organizations, so is ethics. Ethics is the conscience of the organization as culture is the heart. Practice of ethical behavior not only during decision making should be promoted in the workplace in all levels. Upon the management’s shoulders is the pressure of doing this though. Ethical behavior becomes prevalent if the very leaders of the organization are able to demonstrate it themselves.


Dubrin, A. (2005). Fundamentals of Organizational Behavior. Canada:         Southwestern Thomson Corporation.

  1. Ethical decision-making in organizations is rather a must-have than an option. Basically, it provides a concrete foundation among the organization. It entails predictability per se although not generally followed and accepted.

  2. Granted that we are being bred to be responsible professionals, ethics is certainly something we should possess and put into practice. Some people forget that we’ll more or less be working with other people. Being extremely Machiavellian in terms of worldview would certainly do a company more harm than good.

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