In chapter 7 Cooper explores the relationship between ethics and organizational structures and norms. The chapter carries on from the explanations provided in chapter six by the author over the need to create a balance between internal and external control mechanisms. Cooper explores how organizational norms and structures can significantly contribute to the ineffectiveness of established controls, especially external controls. In fact, in a way, Cooper argues that some of these occurrences usually denote the conflict between internal and external controls; with norms and organizational structure forming a significant part of controls that help towards ensuring that administrators engage in ethical conduct (Cooper, 2012).
As such, Cooper argues that:
- External controls such as laws and policies may actually be quite impotent if they appear to be in conflict with powerful internal controls such as values, norms and attitudes.
- The internal and external controls must be in congruence with organizational policies as well as structures in order to encourage engagement in ethical behavior. As such, Cooper avers that reorienting professional traditions, organizational subculture norms and personal values to conform to the intentions of new policies is necessary to ensure healthy ethical behavior.
- Components of responsible behavior include, individual attributes, organizational culture, organizational structure and societal expectations. Individual attributes include aspects such as mental attitude, professional values, virtues and ethical decision making skills, all part of the internal controls. Organizational structures that may affect the possibilities of achieving responsible conduct include: collaborative arrangements, dissent channels, and clear accountability and participation procedures. Aspects of organizational culture that may affect responsible conduct include: norms for conduct, exemplars and symbols, while for societal expectations they are public participation and laws and policies (Cooper, 2012).
Overall, according to Cooper, in order to achieve responsible conduct, all the components referred to above must work in tandem, and failure to do so in most cases leads to irresponsible behavior.
The article “Salvation Army Denies Being Anti-Gay” in the Chicago Tribune, written by Lolly Bowean and Monica Eng, aptly captures some of the assertions made by Cooper. The article essentially covers the contradicting position taken by the Salvation Army on gay relationships. Whereas on the one hand it claims through its national community relations secretary Army Major George Hood that it does not discriminate against homosexuality, Hood proceeds to state that from a church viewpoint, it goes against the will of God. This article captures the confusion that has arisen within the Salvation Army when it comes to dealing with homosexuality. While the societal expectations are that there is no place for discrimination, the organizational culture and certain aspects of the individual attributes actually go against this position, mainly due to norms for conduct, professional values, virtues and exemplars rooted in the teachings from the bible. This conflict has even resulted in the organization (the Salvation Army) seemingly taking two positions: a theological one and an official one.
The case captured by Bowean and Eng (2012) was quite insightful, because it highlights the fact that failure by even one component of responsible behavior to be in tandem with the other four, can actually lead to irresponsible behavior. In fact, the article highlights the importance of having all four components working in tandem to achieve responsible behavior. The case demonstrates the futility of having laws and policies that go against organizational norms and structures.
Such an insight is quite essential for the future professionally, as it is a demonstration of the importance of ensuring organizational norms and structures are in tandem with external controls such as laws and policies.
Bowean, L., & Eng, M. (2012, December 01). Salvation Army Denies Being Anti-Gay. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-12-01/news/ct-met-salvation-army-20121201_1_red-kettles-ralph-bukiewicz-charity-navigator
Cooper, T. (2012). The Responsible Administrator: An Approach to Ethics for the Administrative Role (6th Edition). John Wiley & Sons