Culture is an area that we focus on in different ways when discussing organizational life. Culture is difficult to define, but it holds the key to individual behavior and ethical environments within organizations. We are familiar with strong organizational cultures, such as is evident in the United States armed forces. Each branch of the armed forces has a different culture that is made up of the underlying assumptions, beliefs, and values of the membership. Some of these cultural elements are shared among the branches, and others are unique to specific branches. For instance, the U.S. Soldier’s Creed provides soldiers with an understanding of their shared belief and value system.
A strong positive culture that has an underlying focus on ethical behavior has as much influence on an individual employee’s and manager’s behavior as a negative culture; however, in the news we hear most about the impacts of negative cultures on ethical behavior. As Gilbert (2012) points out, it is almost impossible for employees and managers to behave ethically if their organization’s systems are designed to support and reward unethical behavior. Therefore, managers need to understand that the organizational goals and objectives, structure, environment, ethics policies, and incentive systems have a fundamental impact on the way in which culture develops and affects ethical behavior.
For your discussion:
Consider your current (or previous) organization’s culture.
Describe the values, beliefs, and assumptions that drive the culture.
Explain some of the unethical behavior that occurs within your organization.
This might be based on conflicts of interest and/or observed practices.
Describe how organizational goals and objectives, structure, environment, ethics policies, and/or incentive systems affect these unethical behaviors.
Make at least one recommendation to shift the organization’s culture in order to increase ethical behavior
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