So, I posited recently that homogeneity in moral confliction is a relatively good thing — with little emphasis on “good”. It struck me that, all other things being equal, it is better to have a group of people, for example employees, who are morally conflicted along the same dimensions than to have a group of people who are conflicted along different dimensions.
I don’t know why I think of these things…perhaps it is my mother’s side, or my father’s side, or a misformed gene or something.
Anyway, I believe that if I am a manager, I would rather have my employees struggling with the same moral dilemmas than to have them struggling with different moral dilemmas. Why? Well, I reason, that if they struggle with the same ethical issues, I can anticipate their responses to emerging situations and can develop appropriate policies and measurements to keep the employees “between the lines”.
And, I further reason, that less volatility in behaviorial response is a value creator (you just knew it had to be coming), since management can allocate resources to institutional productivity, rather than to “babysitting” a bunch of morally diverse employees.
Yep, my hypothesis leads to very politically incorrect responses, like hiring a workforce that is culturally and/or religiously homogenous.If all of the employees subscribe to the same moral standards and rules, it makes for a much easier job of managing them.
When I was in Japan, my boss told me that lying was not a matter of right or wrong, but a matter of improving the circumstances of the person to whom you were lying. I said nay. Lying is intrinsically wrong. He said, you are relying on your Christian theology in deducing this. In Japan, it is the outcome from a lie that determines whether the lieis good or bad.
So, if I am an American company with a Japanese subsidiary, how am I going to structure the rules of communication, let alone negotiation, between the entities, knowing the Japanese believe lying is a situationally OK and the Americans probably don’t?
A good start to understanding the ethical dilemmas that permeate your organizational culture is perhaps to understand the ethical lens through which your employees view the world. In what ways are they morally conflicted?
That is, what’s dangling from their hats?
Posted on Sat, November 12, 2011
by Timothy E. Moffit