Discussion on Ethical culture change intervention

Ethical Culture Change Intervention

Once the audit is complete, the data should be discussed with employees who can then be enlisted in

the development of a culture change intervention plan. The plan will be guided by the diagnosis and the

cultural, multisystem framework shown in Figure 9.2. Complementary changes in both the formal and

informal organizational systems should be a part of any recommended change effort.

Though difficult, changing formal systems is a more straightforward process than changing informal

systems. Gaps and problems identified in the diagnosis can be addressed in a number of ways. Structure

can be altered to encourage individuals to take responsibility for their behavior and to discourage

unquestioning deference to authority. Codes of ethics can be designed in a participative manner,

distributed, and enforced. Reward systems can be designed to punish unethical behavior. Performance

management systems can be designed with an emphasis not only on “what” people do but also on “how”

they do it. Whistle-blowers can be encouraged and provided formal communication channels and

confidentiality. 91 Orientation programs can be designed to incorporate the organization’s values, and

training programs can be set up to prepare individuals to handle the ethical dilemmas they are most likely

to face in their work. Integrity can be emphasized in selection and promotion decisions. Decision-making

processes can incorporate attention to ethical issues by devoting time at meetings and space in reports.

 

 

* By Linda K. Treviño and Katherine A. Nelson. This article originally appeared as Chapter 9 of Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk about

how to Do It Right (John Wiley & Sons, 2004). It has been condensed. Used by permission and may not be further reproduced.

14 March 2018

It’s more difficult to change the informal systems, particularly those that have been found to maintain

unethical behavior in the organization. However, these changes must be undertaken if the total change

effort is to be effective. These changes require attention to the “art” rather than the science of

management and are consistent with ideas about the importance of “symbolic management.” With

symbolic management, organizational leaders and managers are encouraged to create rituals, symbols,

and stories that will influence those they manage. 92

ETHICAL CULTURE CHANGE EVALUATION As with any organizational change and

development effort, results should be evaluated over an extended period of time. Evaluation, like

diagnosis and intervention, should be guided by the multisystem framework. Surveys and interviews can

he repeated regularly to determine if norms have changed and to pinpoint potential problem areas.

Documents can be analyzed to determine if ethical issues are being consistently considered. Other

outcomes, such as number of lawsuits or reports of unethical behavior, can also be tracked. However,

interpretation may need to go beyond simply the numbers. Increased reporting to a hotline, for example,

may only mean that ethical sensitivity has been raised and can be viewed as a positive outcome rather

than a negative one. This is probably the part of culture building that is most neglected. Most

organizations are unwilling to make the investment in evaluation, and therefore they really can’t calculate

the effectiveness of their efforts.

THE ETHICS OF MANAGING ORGANIZATIONAL ETHICS

An effort aimed at changing organizational ethics requires us to face a particularly knotty ethical

dilemma: Whose values or ethics are to prevail? We believe that a change effort that involves employees

is not manipulative or coercive and is most consistent with a concern for the ethics of the change effort

itself. Employees should participate in the problem diagnosis and planning process. They should be aware

of what’s happening and should take part in identifying problems and recommending solutions.

CONCLUSION

This chapter has proposed a cultural framework for thinking about ethical and unethical behavior in

the organizational context. Although individual character traits may predispose a person to ethical or

unethical behavior, the cultural context in the organization also has a powerful influence on the behavior

of most employees. An organization that wishes to develop or change its ethical culture must attend to the

complex interplay of formal and informal systems that can support either ethical or unethical behavior.

 

 

* By Linda K. Treviño and Katherine A. Nelson. This article originally appeared as Chapter 9 of Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk about

how to Do It Right (John Wiley & Sons, 2004). It has been condensed. Used by permission and may not be further reproduced.

15 March 2018

Quick-fix solutions are not likely to succeed. A broad, multisystem approach to developing and changing

organizational ethics was outlined to guide organizations in diagnosing and, if necessary, changing their

ethical culture.

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