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MANAGERIAL ETHICS

October 22, 2020

ABSTRACT:

Social/organizational and political/managerial ethics continue to be one of the most prominent predicaments of our time.

Recent advances in information technologies have allowed easier and faster access not only to technical and production, but also social, cultural and ethical information, viewpoints and assessments by the public at large –without the scrutiny of a centralized administration.

This ongoing process has paved the way for a new people-oriented ethics to emerge, while,  underlining the importance of such concepts as human rights, equality and freedom.

Managerial ethics’ sphere of influence is not limited to the business world. It is, in fact, concerned with every aspect of social life. In this regard, it functions at the core of socio-economic process in creating public benefit while solving/preventing problems.

How managerial ethics, as an applied field, can be implemented within a methodology in organizational process, and how to solve the problems that may arise along the way is an important field in modern administrative sciences. It is of special importance that, the media organizations, commonly referred to as the fourth power in democratic societies, have an internal system of governance driven by managerial ethics and its practices.

Key words: Ethics, Managerial Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Business Ethics, Media Organizations

 

INTRODUCTION:

Ethics as one of the most mentioned subjects of the daily life in Turkey and also in the World is not so much accentuated by the academic world. However, this concept has gradually gained its importance in managerial discipline especially after 1980’s. The main feature is the raise of the social sensitivity and the public (especially the non-governmental organizations) pressure due to the social-cultural structures changing according to the technological improvements in knowledge and communication. In this context, considering corporations as social systems as well as economic beings has become a highly acknowledged general notion.

It is necessary to emphasize here that the conflicts caused in the social life by the dilemma between managers and managed people and the economic imbalance, which can be described as primary (basic) ethics problems, cannot be totally solved as the causes cannot be totally eliminated.  It is expected to have an inversely proportional increase in the public ethics due to the decrease in these differences.

Almost every problem handled in the scope of managerial ethics is actually the reflection of the field of primary (basic) ethics problematic.  In other words, secondary ethical problems as corruption, bribe, personal benefit, false advertisement are results of primary ethical problems and come out as different images/reflections of primary problems.

Problems handled in the scope of managerial ethics will continue to exist as long as the solution of the primary problems of ethics gets difficult. The secondary problems which are the reflections of basic social problems will be eliminated in line with the elimination of these public matters.

The adoption of the managerial ethics in this context by the companies is important in the sense of protection and improvement of social ethics. 

There is limited amount of holistic literary studies or researches in the field of managerial ethics. In this respect, the aim of this study is to handle managerial ethics in all aspects and offer to the information and evaluation of the academics, managers and all others who are concerned of the matter.

The last chapter, which is the research part of our study, the application of managerial ethics in the organizational structure of the press associations and the stipulation of the press associations concerning managerial ethics are examined. 

It is necessary here to indicate that, there are many studies on the professional ethics of the press employees under the title of “media ethics”.  In our study, ways of applications of the managerial ethics as a program is handled in the scope of administrative sciences.

Interviews and surveys are made covering managers of thirty three national newspapers. Target of the research is to exemplify the relation between managerial ethics’ codes and appliance of managerial ethics’ training programs in the extent of press corporations.

  1. Basic Concepts:

    1. Morality and Ethics:

The words “morality” and “ethics” are used in the same meaning in daily Turkish. But these two words have nuances in meaning. Morality (Ahlâk) comes from the Arabic word “hulk” which means habit, nature or moral fibre of a person as formed by genesis. (Uzun, 2009; 19)

Morality is a discipline related with the good and the bad along with the spiritual duties and responsibilities. (Özgener; 2009; 6)

The word “ethics” derived from the Greek word “ethos” meaning “character”. Ethics as a branch of Axiology (philosophical study of value) is one of the five main branches of philosophy. 

Philosophical studies are usually studied under five subtitles; (1) metaphysics, examines the nature of reality; (2) logic, studies the ways and principles of thinking; (3) epistemology, studies knowledge and concepts of knowledge; (4) esthetics, studies the meaning and image of beauty; (5) ethics, studies the formation of moral values and the principles of “good” “bad”. (Özgen, 2006; 47)

Ethics which is also called “ritual science”, is the branch of philosophy that studies the ritual and moral human relationships, behaviors and opinions.  

The aim of ethics is to explain measurements of good and bad associated with the past or today is the. (Lamberton ve Minor, 1995: 409)

It is the branch of philosophy that studies ritual or moral human relationships, their behaviors and opinions. (Çalışlar, 1983; 10)

Ethics is also named as moral philosophy by the western philosophical tradition.  In Turkish it is used as moral science and sometimes ethics and moral are used in the same meaning.

Since morality is described as a human fact, it undertakes an important function on socialization.  In other words morality is an important component of the socialization process of human beings. (Özgen, 2006; 26)

All social sciences are concerned with the ethical roots of the human behavior in different levels. For instance, it has reflections and influence; on economy depending on the sharing problems of limited sources, on political sciences depending on the role in establishing the civil power and the government potency, on managerial ethics in the context of organization customs and business ethics, on law by the founding of legal ethics and principles and on anthropology in the context of confusions and conflictions experienced during the comparison process of two different cultures.    

Apart from social sciences, it is named as environmental ethics in ecology and bio-ethics in biology. 

Ethics is the branch of philosophy that studies morality in a systematic way. Ethics asks various questions and examines them. It is categorized according to the subject examined as; behaviour of a person in a definite situation is included in the field of “applied ethics”, ways of someone in confirmation of a moral situation or vision in “normative ethics” and the comprehension of someone the original structure of ethics and morality in “meta-ethics”.  

For instance, the appropriateness of the attraction of the people by the media in a partisan way is discussed in the scope of “applied ethics”. The most popular question in “normative ethics” is, if someone lies to protect another one, will this be considered within morality or not. In “meta-ethics”, it is asked and examined if morality is only the expression of a person’s special preferences; is everything relative or how the existence of “good” is approved by us.      

In other words, studies that include moral estimations and suggestions are called “normative”. In the “meta-ethics” method of study, “ethics” is used in the meaning of examining the words and concepts people use in cases of deciding, suggesting something, warning someone or assessing someone’s behavior.

In “meta-ethics” the utilization, the meaning and the nature of these moral suggestions and the things that form morality are studied despite the fact that in “normative ethics” moral suggestions are made directly. 

 

1.2 Social Responsibility Concept:

In spite of the incredible improvements in science and technology, as the individual has become more and more stranger to his family, his environment, the society, to the world and even to himself, the bound in the offices and in the collective working sense has been loosened, the nature and natural sources are destructed irresponsibly; some company leaders that are aware of the corporate ethics have come together towards the end of 1980’s against these destructive events and formations and declared that they accept  struggling against the idea “Biggest profit within the shortest time at any cost” as their principle.

The first organization of this development is the “Social Venture Network USA” established in 1987 which consisted of nearly 1000 private sector companies most of them being American.   (Özkol, 2007; 73)

Following this general frame we may go on with the definitions made by different writers and academicians about the Institutional Social Responsibility:

Social responsibility may be defined as adopting the restriction of the companies from unsafe activities through the whole process from production to consumption and the policies, procedures, movements that force companies to work in favour of people as a principle. (Özgener, 2009; 161)

Another definition covers the social responsibilities of companies that force to restrict unsafe effects resulting from the economical activities and that contribute to actions for the safe and comfort of people and activities that aim accordance with community alterations. (Nalbant, 2005; 194)

A different description says that the social responsibility of a corporation should be to pay as much attention to the social consequences of their decisions as they are sensitive to the economical effects. (Aldag ve Stearns, 1991; 112)

Robertson and Nicholson suggest that the social responsibilities of a corporation are defined under three main principles. (Özgener, 2009; 164)  These principles are;

Legality Principle; is based on the awareness of the corporation regarding its social responsibilities depending on its institutional functions and activities. This principle is associated with the relation between the company and the society and makes the needs of the company more specific. 

Public responsibility principle: A company according to its organizational functions can overtake social responsibilities interrelated with its fields of primary and secondary interest.

Therefore, the responsibilities of a company are limited by problems directly result from their actions and benefits. 

Managerial discretion right: This principle is related to the managers as they are the individual actors of functions and morality. Basically, this principle defines the responsibilities of the managers in choosing activities to be planned in order to succeed in social duties.

  

1.3 Managerial Ethics Concept:

Academic studies have been concentrated on managerial ethics since 1970’s. The number of essays and educational books on managerial ethics has increased by 1980’s.   

Managerial ethics has emerged as a result of efforts made to conciliate the advantages of the enterprises, customers, share owners and the managers which stand in competition with each other.  Managerial ethics suggests the improvement of the responsibility idea for the managers supplying the moral principles. (Özgener, 2009; 95)

Managerial ethics, studies the behavior standards of people and norms that organize and lead the relationship between workers and the companies they work for and dissimilar to the thoughts that suppose enterprises should work hard to gain much with main target of a maximum profit, examines, evaluates and comments on the enterprises’ activities in respect of morality. (Flippo ve Gary ve Munsinger, 1982; 71)

Managerial ethics is defined as the moral principles and behavior standards improved by the managers or organizations in order to success in business and achieve the organizational targets. (Bartol ve Martin, 1994; 102)

Managerial ethics, tries to categorize the good and the bad as main issues of ethics in the attitude of managers regarding the workers and the work. In this context, we may say that, the main target of the managerial ethics is to define the managers behavior as “how it should be” and as “how it should not be” by a normative methodology. (Dağdelen, 2005)

The key factor of launching the idea “Managerial Ethics” is the clash of interests.  Generally, if we assume that every moral issue is a result of a conflict, the problems of managerial ethics are the results of the divergences between the enterprises, their share owners, workers, customers, consumers, suppliers and the people. If these conflicts did not exist, there would be no need to the managerial ethics concept. Subsequently, managerial ethics has become a method used in solution of these conflicts of interests.  

 

2. Differences between “Social Responsibility” and “Managerial Ethic” concepts:

It is essential to put forward the differences between the concepts “social responsibility” and “managerial ethics”, in order to accomplish the managerial ethics concept. Generally, both these differences are ignored and used mistakenly in place of each other.

The main difference between “social responsibility” and “managerial ethics” is the enterprise’s activities under the inspiration of social responsibility, besides the internal responsibilities. The activities and projects generated under social responsibility inspiration, does not mean that the company, in its internal procedures, is acting in line with managerial ethics and that, ethical criteria is considered at all times throughout the decision processes.

It is obvious that, some activities and practices may occur as an obligation resulting from both managerial ethics and social responsibilities. For instance, the fact that an enterprise having employees of different religions, ethnic groups, different genders or disabled persons can be included in both the area of social responsibilities and managerial ethics; but, a project developed to give the disabled people special cars, is considered in the scope of social responsibility performances of the company.

If we briefly say again, “managerial ethics” performance of the enterprise is related with the ethical appropriateness of its whole sum of activities. On the other hand, “social responsibility” performance is related to the social activities and projects developed for the environment and the public. The social responsibility performance of the enterprise does not show its ethical performance.

 

3. The Institutionalization Process of Managerial Ethics:

     Following the definition made of the importance of culture in the description process of ethical behaviour, we will handle the practising process of managerial ethics programme in the organizations and the institutionalization process of these appliances.

 

 

During the application process of managerial ethics program there are two vital things to be considered. Firstly, the moral level of the individuals must be improved by the managerial ethics program. Secondly the program must be connected with the daily activity schedule. (Sayiner, 2005; 107)

Lisa Dercks has examined the problems resulting from the immoral actions during the 1999 Europe Commission in her article (2001) and has suggested an ethical program to the commission in this context. (Sayiner, 2005; 108)

This program consists of;

  • Determination of organizational values;

  • Improvement of ethical behavior codes,

  • Constitution of an ethical commission,

  • Creation of a program on adoption of ethical principles which is obliged to be attended,

  • Placement of ethical evaluation concept in performance system,

  • Arrangement of ethical education programs for the leading  managerial team,

  • Constitution/ understanding process of a social control organization in order to control the working of the system process.

In this scope, we can define the organizational process of managerial ethics briefly as follows: (Arslan ve Berkman, 2009; 112)

Superior Management has to;

  • Believe in the necessity,

  • Demonstrate leadership, 

  • Make training study,

  • Be concerned of a long term (3-5 years) perception,

  • Adopt a large scoped approach (covering all the activities and people)

Preparation of Ethical Codes;

  • Determination of the values/priorities of the company

  • Evaluation of the related codes

  • Development of the main aspects of the code that fits the company best (in respect of the sector, activities, culture, share holders and environmental relations)

  • Having external professional support if needed during these processes

  • Having internal support from different levels in the company during these processes at the suitable time  

  • Having detailed arrangements for the people in charge of special duties as well as the general principles in the code

  • Designation of the personnel who will be responsible of the working of the code    

  • Definition clearly of the sanctions and procedures in case of peculiarities associated to code and behavior principles 

 

Ethical Code Application;

  • Making sure that all workers are given the complete text of the code with the explanations of its importance, necessity and benefits.

  • Providing the names and communication information of the ethical staff in case of probable problems.

Ethical Commission and the Commissioners;

  • Constitution of the ethical commission for the ethical construction (There can also be members out of the company in the commission)

  • Determination of the ethical commissioners in departments (Ombudsman or an ethical consultant may name the staff)

  • Variation and contact easiness of the means of complains.                                                      

Ethical Training;

  • Information about the importance, necessity and benefits

  • Incorporation with all the staff including the superiors 

  • Application of different programs for workers of different levels and positions (regarding the content, method and the teacher)

Human Resources Applications;

  • Spreading of the applications which award ethical or  punish unethical  behavior

  • Making ethical behavior be included in performance valuation essentials

  • Having annual ethical valuation

Decisions and Applications of the enterprise;

  • Ethics being relevant for all the decisions and applications

  • Healthy relationships between the share holders and the society

  • Contribution to social life quality by means of social responsibility projects

Ethical Control and Evaluation;

  • Controlling and evaluating of all ethical processes if possible by external companies  and publishing of by these documents

  • Description of performance and if necessary making equipment and procedure revisions in aspect of  “ethical management” and “management of ethics”

It is possible to make available the managerial ethics program institutionalized in the organization, by precisely following the process mentioned above.

 

4. EVALUATION AND CONCLUSION:

Managerial ethics concerns not only the business life (workers/consumers) but all the people and the environment. In this respect, managerial ethics has a significant function in solving and/or obstructing the problems and conflicts during the social- economic process.  

The importance and emphasis of the managerial ethics concerning social benefits is the basic dynamics of the improvement of social responsibility consciousness relating to enterprises. Social responsibility perception necessitates on organization that cares about employees, consumers, shareholders and environment in the way that business ethics demands. 

As we have mentioned before, there are various researches (academical studies, surveys made by the related institutions) made on profession of journalism under the title of media ethics.  But there is not a specialized study on the occurrence and appliance of managerial ethics programs related to the press enterprises’ managing procedure. The research we have accomplished in this respect is a unique survey that defines the managerial ethics programs and their applications and the occurrence of managerial ethics training programs related to press enterprises.

As mentioned in the chapters above, it is necessary to have an active contribution of all the employees to the process of managerial ethics programs being realized and applied in an enterprise. Another prerequisite for the successful application of managerial ethics program in an organization is the existence and continuity of the managerial ethics training programs. Without doubt, the existence of ethical codes determined and written by top management does not mean that the enterprise has the culture and application ability related to managerial ethics.  It is essential to create ethical codes with a participant way of managing apprehension as well as the organized training program for the success and the application sincerity.

Therefore in our research, besides stating whether the press enterprises have managerial ethics codes or not, we also tried to determine if the press enterprises declaring that they have managerial ethics codes have special managerial ethics training programs.

According to our research it is found out that there is not a significant relation between having ethical codes that define the wanted and unwanted behavior in respect of managerial ethics and the training programs that are created on ethics. This is also valid for the new personnel.

The outcome of this research is that 23 out of the 33 of the press enterprises contributing to the survey have declared that they have managerial ethics codes but that none of them had special managerial ethics training programs.

Positively, we can put forward at this point a commentation depending on the results of the research: The submission hasn’t been carried out sincerely throughout the creation and application process of the managerial ethics program in the press enterprises which declared that they have managerial ethics codes and contribution is not well adopted. The lack of payment for managerial ethics training programs is a confirmation of this conclusion. The fact that only two of the press enterprises having managerial ethics commitees also shows the meaning of the application of managerial ethics programs  for the press enterprises during the research process. Since, as explained in above chapters the existence of managerial ethics committees is essential in application of managerial ethics programs and the success of the application.

Another important outcome of our research is the statement of people who improve the managerial ethics codes. Thus, in 57.7 (14 companies) percent of the the press enterprises having managerial ethics codes that are the subject of our research has been improved by the human resources departments.

Only 4 of the managerial ethics codes having press enterprises have improved these codes with the active contribution of their employees.

Throughout the research, we also asked the contributors what was the expected reaction in case of an employee reporting an unethical behavior. The data reached at the end was interesting: 33.3 percentages of the contributor companies did not know what was going to be done.

As known, press enterprises in democratical societies have an important social function named as the 4th Force. These press enterprises that perform a public service have an important communal responsibility as the formation and socialization of knowledge and news.

In this context, the press enterprises having an important function as informing the public of unethical behaviors and applications in the economical and social world. Thus, it is essential to know whether they have managerial ethics applications or not in their managerial process.

Consequently, to state the accordance of the press enterprises that have the strength to produce political and cultural effect on public, with the managerial ethics concept throughout the management process, will surely have an important influence on the argument of the subject in context of social agenda. 

The general conclusion reached after the evaluation of our research is as follows:  It is found that only 23 of the 33 national newspapers included in our research have ethical codes, and even these enterprises do not apply or carry out these managerial ethics programs with care and sincerity. It is also found out that these enterprises do not spend enough time on this process and they do not have enough supply in their budget for it and thus, do not have any controls or estimations made on managerial ethics as they do not have a related program. 

Besides, press enterprises cannot be considered free from social-economical conditions as all the economical components of the society. Thus it is not possible to think that ethics can change magicly all the negative formation at once without having a significant change in social-economical situation. 

All the same, as being so effective on social life, press enterprises should pay the necessary importance to managerial ethics and should sincerely and carefully utilize the existent methods through their organizational process.

 

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