Ethical Issues:  in Virtual Environments Managing Knowledge

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1. Ethical Issues: in Virtual Environments Managing Knowledge Dr. Andrea Hornett Penn State Knowledge Management Group of Philadelphia – March Meeting 2005, UNISYS Corp.

3. Differing Views on Ethics: Ethics: Standards of moral conduct; judgments about whether human behavior is right or wrong. (Source: Hackman & Johnson, 2002, Leadership) Ethics: live a good life, act justly as well as decide and judge rationally our actions and our forms of living and working. (Source: Cane, 1994, Financial Times)

4. The Dictionary Says “A discipline dealing with good and evil and with moral duty.”

5. Can we talk? Round Robin of Ethical Issues

6. Different Ethical Paradigms .

7. Ideas from my students’ interpretations Accountability? No connection of actions to consequences and vice versa. Lying about it when caught worse than unethical acts (HBR – Miss Manners). Many values >ethics, especially getting ahead and taking care of family Winners (aka Leaders) deserve more than others. The Alphas get the toys.

8. Effective Ethics Program: Establish corporate standards & procedures (S & P). Appoint at least one high level individual to oversee compliance. Require all to participate in training or at least read about the S & P. Implement monitoring & auditing systems. Enforce the standards – detect & prevent.

9. Legal Compliance The tip of iceberg:

10. Gestalt Principles – Help to explain the phenomena – anesthetized Principles that Heighten Awareness Perception Principle- data is clearly and sharply focused vs. background state Co-Existence Principle – data that is opposite but counter-balancing (heart vs. mind). Realization Principle – data that is intimately personally perceived vs. present but unrecognized (perhaps foggy) data Present Principle – Data that is dealt with in the “here-an-now” vs. past or future data. Principles that Anesthetize Perception Blind-Faith Principle – uncritical acceptance of another person’s values Shifting-Responsibility Principle- Making another person responsible for your behavior. People-Pleasing Principle – Continuous “buying into” another person’s value system in order to be identified with that person. Diversion Principle – The “warding off” of the main issue to a peripheral or insignificant issue.

11. Criteria of Heightened Ethical Awareness & Discernment Principles that Heighten Awareness Perception Principle- data is clearly and sharply focused vs. background state Co-Existence Principle – data that is opposite but counter-balancing (heart vs. mind). Realization Principle – data that is intimately personally perceived vs. present but unrecognized (perhaps foggy) data Present Principle – Data that is dealt with in the “here-an-now” vs. past or future data. Implications for the Management Aspects of Ethical Decision Making & KM: Question Data – check/recheck Values Clarification Ask for implications Identify trends Note: 1st is Six Sigma; Second is McKinsey 7 S; final two are SYSTEMS Thinking.

12. Necessary but not sufficient Need ethical discernment in DM, not just legal compliance Decision making cultures that reduce anesthesia And….hit a moving target… Increase in globalization and virtual nature of decision environments increase both the amount and the nature of ethical dilemmas.

13. KM lives in Virtual World Ubiquity of computers and networks raises new issues and increases complexity -> Copyright infringement Corporate assets for personal use: email, Internet searches Privacy & use of data on individuals Extend company ethics to vendors…?

14. A Gap “There is often a gap between ethics in the workplace and the sense of what is right and wrong in the family or with friends.” At work vs at Home [Source: Hodel-Widmer & Luthi, ETHICOMP.]

15. Why the Gap? What is Work Like? 5 Factors: Peer Pressure Conflict Avoidance Market Factors Speed Environments

16. 1. Peer Pressure Peer pressures at work tend to create conforming behaviors, less freedom / liberty than at home. No data on how working from home may change this (or not).

17. 2. Competition Paradoxically, competition generates conflict avoidance. Competitive pressures both within and outside work environments tend to create behaviors that avoid open conflict (little dialogue around values). Lack of fully collaborative electronic communications serves to further limit such dialogue.

18. 3. Market Forces Market pressures at work tend to create cultures of action (not reflection, a key ingredient in ethical discernment).

19. 4. Speed Increase in speed of transactions and decrease in personal interactions moves accountability from persons to systems (making accountability more ambiguous).

20. 5. Environments Organizational environments create internal organizational dynamics. These organizing mechanisms respond to the relative variability and instability of the corporation’s environment.

21. Organizing Mechanisms derive from environmental factors ^ | V A Networks Virtual Organizations R I A B I L Markets Hierarchies I T Y | o ---- ---- ---- ----- I N S T A B I L I T Y > ----------------------------------?

22. Assumptions: Virtual forms will proliferate due to increasing levels of complexity and variability in environments. Therefore, managing across geographic and organizational boundaries will be critical. Therefore, knowledge management strategies are also critical. The temporary, morphing/modulating nature of virtual organizations poses unique ethical issues.

23. Some Current Scandals & Organizational Type

24. Unique Ethical Issues in Virtual & Network Situations Enron created virtual companies to absorb loses while the parent company (a trading company, not an energy company) appeared profitable and growing. Telecom companies (WorldCom, Global Crossing) booked assets to both partners in swap deals creating virtual trade winners and no losers in a zero sum game.

25. Prospective Ethical Issues in Virtual Organizations A virtual enterprise is created for a specific market opportunity. After the goal is completed, some partners create a new virtual organization with competencies acquired from the joint project. Is that ethical? Is it ethical that one firm works at the same time in two virtual organizations if each of the partners are competitors? Who is the responsible / accountable party in a virtual partnership if there is no single legal entity? Virtual firms can allocate projects to lower cost countries with unregulated working conditions - Off-shoring is essential virtual. Source: Mario Arias Oliva, The ETHICOMP E-Journal vol.1.

26. To the Contrary Virtual organizations actually offer opportunities for a more ethical, more equitable society and corporate environment. And, virtual organizations are more democratic – always a good thing.

27. Virtual = Team = Ethical Values Virtual organizations offer community, excellence, integrity, respect for the individual Lead to > character, profile, and a positive climate and culture for the company. Distance is irrelevant therefore a new kind of collaboration is possible. Time is compressed and memory is electronically available. Source: Thomas B. Hodel-Widmer &Ambros P. Luthi, ETHICOMP Journal

28. More Benefits Because everybody can “speak” at the same time in asynchronous computer meetings, fewer ideas are forgotten and more ideas are born. The participants do not have to follow the meeting permanently without having the time to form their opinion. In computer-supported meetings there is no dominance of team members due to position or other qualities. There is no monopolizing of a discussion by certain team members because of their position, their character or other reasons. Teams with communication–supporting systems recognize errors, problems and dead ends in ideas more quickly. Teams with information supporting system have more information at their disposal than teams without such systems. Therefore, they can make better decisions. Source: Hodel-Widmer & Luthi

29. Show of Hands Virtual environments are more ethical Virtual environments foster unethical behaviors

30. Different Ethical Theories “Us” Moral Development Kohlberg OD Situational Values Rest’s Model

31. Map Your Experiences ..

32. Scandals & Organizational Type: What’s Your Type? Network WorldCom, Qwest, Global Crossing Quattrone / First Boston Virtual Enron Arthur Anderson Martha Stewart Market Krispy Kreme Health South Hierarchy TYCO Adelphia Parmalat Boeing

33. Thank You! I appreciate the opportunity to explore a wiggly worm that is nowhere near the hook. Many thanks to UNISYS for the venue.

34. Notes – Page 1

35. Notes – Page 2

36. Notes – Page 3

37. Notes – Page 4

38. Notes – Page 5

39. Resources: Randy Cohen: The Good, The Bad & The Difference {ethicist from NY Times} Marianne M. Jennings, A Business Tale {Speaking at AstraZeneca today}. Ethicomp – a Journal of research on ethical issues affecting computerized functions and communications. Wheeler & Sillanpaa, The Stakeholder Corporation, 1997. newsletter “Ethically Speaking”

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