This past week we’re into “company culture” and, as a result of our guest speaker Dorothy Burton’s talk, Ethics in Public Service. We are fortunate to have Ms. Burton’s perspective since she worked in the middle of a “public service” quagmire for years.
For this week’s initial response, choose at least one of the topics and issues described below and analyze it from your current point of view, and, presuming you’ve read the reading assignment, put what you see into the perspective of one of the writers in the textbook. The textbook’s author, Marianne Jennings, has her own view(s) but she puts articles in the textbook which are written by others whose views are not necessarily parallel to those of her own. If you’re good enough at analysis and sufficiently insightful to catch nuance or small differences, you might get extra points for such a “comparative analysis.” If you choose that route, say so up front in your response and we’ll all look for it so it doesn’t slip by us.
We can’t ignore Ms. Burton’s lecture on what she saw in the public service arena. It bothered her, so she left it and went to theology school to study it. If you’reinclined to summarize Ms. Burton’s lecture and describe what tangible things you learned from it (other than to be skepticalabout elected or appointed officials), that would be a suitable response. There will be one or more questions on the final exam which will be extracted from her lecture. It would be very easy to ask you to explain Ms. Burton’s “PAGE” analysis or the seven steps to a fall. Without the lecture or help from others, the explanation might elude you. (Hint: Pride, Arrogance, Greed and Ego and the seven steps.)
In the textbook 4.1, Jennings describes “themovingline.” Describe what that means to you in terms of ethical slippage. As a hint, the premise here is that if we start feeling okay with a few tiny stretches of our definition of what is ethical, the next step is easier, and so on until a person feels he’s entitled to what he once might have thought to be unethical.
In reading 4.2, theauthor identifies almost a dozen types of persons’ ethical status. Should some of those be combined? Should that list be expanded and if so, what would you add? If English is not your first language,you may want to keep a dictionary handy or have your computer cued up to get definitions of seldom used words, which, by the way, could inconveniently re-appear on an exam. (Just a hint again.)
In reading 4.3, the article by SaulGellerman, we find avery thorough but cynical analysis of corporate America. Before you think all corporations and executives are short on ethics, let me assure you that there are ample great, ethical and good executives and corporations. But one rotten apple in a barrel tends to ruin the whole barrel. I know we no longer buy apples from barrels; we get them at Target or a grocery store, but the theory is that if one apple is rotten, the rot from that apple tends to go to the next perfectly good apple and before long, the adjacent apple is rotten too. Then apple #2 infects the apple on the other side, and so on. Seeing one rotten apple in a barrel used to signal to a shopper that that whole barrel should be avoided. Can we reasonably expect that in business? Can we save or work with a corporation which may have a bad apple inside? How do we approach that? What’s the solution? Gellerman concludes that there are several things that should be done to assure corporate America is run more ethically, and he describes four specific areas which he thinks should be changed. I think three are reasonable and workable. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Which of his suggestions might help make the most headway to cleaning up business ethics gone awry? Which do you think are not workable (important) and why?