The increasing integration of business management, information technology and business has necessitated the increasing interaction between the two, traditionally separate professionals. This paper assesses Payne and Landry (2006)’s argument that is plausible to have a single code of ethics between IT and business. The paper assets that while it is possible to have a universal code of ethics, and there is reason to believe that these codes must be the same, it is not practical in IT and business.
The definition of values points to objects, parts of objects or actions that are accepted as valuable in a personal or social context, and form the foundation for decision-making. These form the basis for professional ethical codes, and since both IT and business professionals share “value” backgrounds by virtue of the community and culture etc, then their codes should be similar. Ethics determine relate with what is right by the spirit of the law and morals, and as applied in business ethics, it represents an interaction between business and ethics, which perfectly parallels the definition of ethics in IT. Payne and Landry (2006) used the (i) Kantian and (ii) the Raibon & Payne analyses to prove the viability of a single ethical code for IT and Business. These models employ both the deontological rule of what is right an the contemporary perceptions of ethics based on integrity, honesty, justice, competence and utilitarinism. With these models, and using four different IT ethical codes, Payne and Landry (2006, p.82) formulated a single code of ethics for both business and IT. Summmarized in a table, Payne and Landry (2006, P. 83) present clear evidence of the existence of similarities between the ethical codes for IT and business, which offers the foundation for the development of an universal code.
Payne and Landry (2006) presents the arguments of the paper in a logical flow, which allows the facts to be easily understood from simple and easily understandable points, which are subsequently used as premises for beigger arguments. The paper sets off with the definition of values, ethics in business as well as in IT. Then the paper introduces the theoretical models of ethics (Kantian and the Raibon & Payne), which are subsequently used to analyze the ethical codes. These frameworks serve as a basis by which the authors draw apart multiple elemnets of ethical theories, which idenntifies the similarities as well as differences between them. With the comparative analysis, Payne and Landry (2006) draws the conclusion equating both the ethical codes. This systematic presentation of facts and analysis makes it easy to follow the argument, and perhaps even crucially, to understand it.
The nature of values and ethics, necessitates that ethical codes must be the same. Values are views that are “expressed as statements describing objects or features of objects that have worth” in a social or personal context. It forms the foundation of what is considered wrong or right, and given the fact that IT and business professionals come from similar communities, from which they derive their values through common cultures and socialization. This makes it necessary that ethical codes value similar things, not least because ethics are simply “concepts of what is fair and right behavior or conduct” (Payne and Landry 82). Business ethics is the study of moral wrongs and rights applicable to business. It is a rational mechanism for determining right and wrong in particular contexts to ensure liabiliity and accountability, and as such, the similarity of backgrounds and systems of judgement make both ethical codes similar.
The Kantian framework, which is widely used by ethicists and provides a deontological rule that people should do unto others as they want others to do unto them, offers principles that equate IT and business ethics (Payne and Landry 83). The analysis requires that actions must be universally consistent, respect people as inherently valuable and the individual autonomy of people to voluntarily make informed decisions. This is the Golden Rule of ethics, and given the similarity of backgrounds there is no reason for the rule to be different in business and IT.
The reduction of the four ethical codes and the comparative analyses of these codes against the business codes of ethics indicate clear parallels. This comparative analysis reveals that IT professionals have similar conderations of value, and decision-making frameworks, which can subsequently be reduced to form a single system of ethics for both professional groups. Payne and Landry (2006) compare the three Kantian tests to ethical obligations in codes such as the AITP and the ACM, and establishes that management holds the responsibility to uphold similar values in either profession. This is easily the the strongest and best understandable presentation of the argument, by isolating individual elements of the ethical codes an setting them side by side.
Payne and Landry (2006) reduces the IT and business ethics, and offers cogent evidence to back the argument they are fundamendally similar. The similarity of origin, and frameworks of analysis in business and IT is perhaps the strongest argument in the paper.
The Raibon and Payne model moves away from the traditional values of ethics/right, and instead uses contemporary values of justice, integrity, sincerity, competence and utility to establish the validity of the similarity of ethical codes (Payne and Landry 84). If what is considered as consistent with these values is true both in business and IT, then it is justifiable that the ethical codes between them should be universal.
However, IT and business are different as professionals, by virtue of their tasks. Information, data, systems etc is varied from entrepreneureship, business operations etc, and similarly, the ethical dilemmas are necessarily different in wither profession (Boatright 153). This very fact makes it necessary that a s ingle code of ethics would not suffice.
Values derive from the culture, social and physical environments of people, and for since IT and business professionals come from similar backgrounds, it is necessary that their values are similar. Payne and Landry (2006) even present evidence that the ethical codes are already similar in multiple respects, and the possibility of merging them. However, Payne and Landry (2006) fails because the difference between business and IT as professions, despite their increased interaction, presents different ethical challenges, which cannot be met by a single code of ethics.
Boatright, J. Ethics and the conduct of business. New Jersey: Pearson Education International, 2009.
Payne, Dinah and Brett J.L. Landry. "A Uniform Code of Ethics: Business and IT Professional Ethics." Communications of the ACM Vol. 49, No. 11 (2006): 81-84.