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UNIVERSITY OF PRETORIA. centre for business &. PROFESSIONAL ETHICS. Organisational Culture and its Impact on Decision-making: Ethics Champions and Systemic Leadership. Prof. Mollie Painter-Morland Defining ethics. Ethics = a balancing act between

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organisational culture and its impact on decision making ethics champions and systemic leadership


centre for business &


Organisational Culture and its Impact on Decision-making:Ethics Champions and Systemic Leadership

Prof. Mollie Painter-Morland

defining ethics

Ethics = a balancing act between

our own self-interest, the interests of others

and our values

Investors, Management, colleagues, clients, suppliers, the profession, the public




the balancing act is guided by

Compliance with governance regulations

Compliance with laws

Reliance on disciplinary codes and policies

Sound controlenvironment


Values = enduring beliefs about a preferable state of existence

Culture = shared values

Organisational culture as tacit knowledge

The balancing act is guided by:
approaches to managing ethical behaviour
Approaches to managing ethical behaviour
  • Compliance-based approaches
  • Values-based approaches
  • Good example of a holistic approach = Organisational integrity approach
pro s cons of compliance based approaches
Clear guidelines, less room for misunderstanding/ misinterpretation

Control + predictability

Easier to prosecute misconduct

Sends zero-tolerance message

Little discretion when faced with unprecedented dilemmas

No moral imagination

Target hardening

Minimalist rule adherence not understanding of principle

Pro’s & cons of compliance-based approaches
pro s and cons of values based approaches
Values create expectations/ norms which defines roles + ID


Communicates trust and empowerment, respect

Allows for flexibility whilst providing guidance > can deal with change, flux

Risk of abuse of discretion

Employees less clear about violations… may hesitate to report?

Makes misconduct harder to prove

Cultural diversity might lead to misunderstandings


Pro’s and cons of values-based approaches
what is organisational culture
Organisational culture = the shared values of the organisation

Its accepted system of meaning or assumptions

= tacit knowledge

Organisational climate: The visible expression of the organisational culture

What is organisational culture?
organisational culture
Organisational culture
  • Culture = the way we do things around here , i.e. how we perceive, think, feel
  • How we do things = based on our beliefs about is valuable, i.e. our shared values
  • Values emerges from a shared sense of what is meaningful, important, necessary
  • Compliance safeguards values
  • Ethics helps us live according to these values, even in the absence of rules
indicators of culture and values
Indicators of culture and values
  • The way we talk: look at all documents; speeches, communications, minutes of meetings, water-cooler conversations
  • The way we walk the talk: do we practice what we preach, are we consistent in applying values and rules,
  • The way we organize our workplace: recruitment, promotion, reward and punishment, decision-making, checks and balances
tips to enhance culture
Tips to enhance culture
  • Encourage staff to think about the value-ladenness of everything they are doing
  • Talk about loyalty, organisational and professional pride, and personal integrity
  • Talk about WHY we are doing what we are doing
  • Revisit the values, redefine or choose new ones to revise the code.
can t fix a network of ethical problems with straight jacket compliance

Can’t fix a network of ethical problems with straight-jacket compliance

Rules influence, but don’t change culture

A set of POLICIES, or a PROGRAMME is not a CULTURE

organisational integrity approach
Organisational Integrity approach

Culture of shared responsibility









External environment



Policies and procedures

building an ethical culture
Building an ethical culture


















1 st pillar formulate
1st pillar: Formulate
  • Do we understand the corruption risks? Research?
  • Public Service Code of Conduct roll-out?
  • Specific Departmental Codes?
  • Specific role/ professional responsibilities and links with professional organisations?
2 nd pillar integrate
2nd pillar: Integrate
  • Anti-corruption Units in Department: do they exist?
  • Who are they and where are they located? Who do they report to?
  • How are they composed?
  • Are they equipped?
  • Ethics training? African case studies? Lessons learn from failures?
  • Dissemination of DPSA’s and OPSC’s research
  • Sharing of best practices?
3 rd pillar evaluate
3rd pillar: Evaluate
  • Efficient use if OPSC Hotline database > research teams and cooperation
  • Trends analysis
  • Equipping anti-corruption units to utilize research
  • Establishing feedback loops
defining systemic leadership
Defining systemic leadership

Collier and Esteban come to describe leadership as “the systemic capability, distributed and nurtured throughout the organization, of finding organizational direction and generating continual renewal by harnessing creativity and innovation.”

co existence of leadership types
Co-existence of leadership types

Uhl-Bien, Marion and McKelvey:

  • Administrative leadership: managerial roles and actions of individuals who occupy positions of authority
  • Adaptive leadership: “collaborative change movement” that allows adaptive outcomes to emerge in a nonlinear fashion as a result of dynamic interactions between interdependent agents
  • Enabling leadership is what catalyzes adaptive leadership and hence allows for the emergence of adaptive leadership
how does it work
How does it work?
  • Relation between the value orientations of individual members of an organization is one of congruence, not strong sense of consensus
  • Boal and Schultz: “cognitive consensuality” emerges through “memes”, i.e. units of cultural knowledge transmission that operate as carriers of mental pictures
  • Tagging: subtle influences
  • Co-existence of and interdependence between various forms of leadership is therefore important
systemic leadership dynamics
Systemic leadership dynamics
  • Values and passion
  • Eliciting and appreciating contention
  • Fostering collaboration
  • Building relationships of trust
  • Wisdom and humility
  • Diversity and authenticity
  • Interdependence
too relative too fluid
Too relative? Too fluid?
  • Not “anything goes”
  • Unarticulated and inexpressible, BUT congruity of purpose and priority = powerful
  • Effects sense of common cause and normative propriety
paradoxes within systemic leadership
Paradoxes within systemic leadership
  • Hierarchy-participation: jazz band, where certain unspoken conventions dictate who will be “soloing”, and “comping”
  • Symmetry-mutuality: differences in capabilities, roles, responsibilities and opportunities affect the way in which systemic leadership works in practice
  • Discipline-creativity: Not all ideas are good ones, and hence the organisation must celebrate and reward creativity, but exercise discipline
  • Develop systemic ethics capacity for organisation within various functional areas
  • Balance normative congruence with ability to question, challenge groupthink
  • Distributed notion of accountability towards all relationships
  • No passing of the buck
discussion influence on leadership development


Close reading of organizational “texts”

Interpersonal skills: Eliciting and dealing with dissent


Assessment of ethical efforts

Personal integration

Building trust


Discussion: Influenceon leadership development?