Integrity, and how it relates to other practices of
Evolution of Ethics and Policy.
societies were small, clans or tribes, an individual's ethical
obligations extended only to members of his or her clan
or tribe, but these included obligations to the "natural"
world around them, as they understood it. As societies grew,
the extent of ethics toward human beings changed. Paradoxically,
as obligations to more people increased, obligations to
the world as a whole seemingly decreased.
the decline of tribal culture as human societies became
more complex, ethical theory became more important. Where
culture and tradition had once guided tribal members, societies
sought more universal principles for guidance in dealing
with others who were essentially strangers.
became the communities people turned to for hope, identity,
and purpose. These institutions, in turn, struggled to maintain
their autonomy as nations formed. The formation of social
policy became increasingly a struggle for institutional
challenge for institutions now is to learn how to organize
and mobilize their involved stakeholders with hope, identity,
and purpose, while simultaneously maintaining a worldwide
social fabric. As Peter Drucker wrote recently, doing this
will require "the willingness and ability of each of today's
institutions to maintain the focus on the narrow and specific
functions that gives them the capacity to perform, and yet
the willingness and ability to work together and with political
authority for the common good."
approach to organizational integrity helps organizations
organize, develop, and mobilize the human potential of its
stakeholders as a community of interdependent parts that
includes the world around it. It is an evolutionary approach
based upon the twin premises that organizational integrity
is tied inextricably to its essential social responsibility
to the community and the dynamic nature of that community.
Integrity. Organizational Integrity is a complex
of virtues working together to form a coherent character:
a hopeful, identifiable, and purposeful community where
trust abounds. Such a community achieves its organizational
aspirations in harmony with its environment.
with organizational integrity is a community that has many
of the characteristics of a tribe. A recent study of the
premier business organizations over the last 150 years demonstrates
how significant these characteristics are. The characteristics
of truly visionary institutions-those widely admired by
their peers and having a long track record of having a significant
impact on the world-were:
A core ideology (core purpose, values, and vision).
internal drive toward progress (through methods such as
continuous self-improvement, purposeful evolution, bold
to preserve core and stimulate progress (all key pieces
of leadership (home grown leadership).
cult-like culture (an intense sense of loyalty and devotion
influencing the behavior of its members to be consistent
with its core ideology).
distinguishes these visionary organizations most from tribes
are the three ways they stimulate progress: continuous self-improvement;
bold commitments, which the researchers styled BHAGs (Big
Hairy Audacious Goals) and purposeful evolution. more
tribes of our evolutionary past lived in relatively close
contact with their environment and with relatively little
cooperation and competition with other peoples. Cultures
and traditions provided much of the guidance needed to survive
and be successful. Stimulating progress before the agricultural
revolution had elements of continuous self-improvement and
purposeful evolution, but setting audacious goals is probably
a device for more complex societies. Dealing with the environment
around them was challenging enough.
more complex world, organization-wide challenges
are required to spur organization-wide progress though the
human need for connection with community survives. The need
for such goals is less a characteristic of organizing and
mobilizing human potential per se than it is a function
of our complex and changing environments. Anything less
challenging will not capture the attention of the organization
as a whole.
Organization as Community. An
organization must be able to encourage its involved stakeholders
to appreciate the broader community in which it would survive
and thrive, while simultaneously developing these same stakeholders
as a community of inquiry and action. More
fundamental attributes of a successful human
Dignity of the individual.
that further the purpose of the community.
abounding among its members and other stakeholders.
relational values of the organization of integrity
that make it work are:
these, a successful human community is impossible.
certain fundamental community values, the fundamental
attributes of community-dignity, connection and trust-are
impossible. Fundamental to a successful community are:
for thoughts, feelings, and actions.
contribute their capabilities and commitment to the
organization. If the organization is a community, they choose
to be members because they share its core ideology: core
purpose, core values, and vision of a desired future.
organization provides the capacity, culture, and
continuity that concentrate these capabilities toward
achieving organizational individual and organizational ends,
especially learning and growth.
Building: The Ethics & Excellence Approach. Our
approach to organizational ethics is captured in the figure
above as a set of relationships between four components
of organizational life:
ethical and legal environment.
figure depicts these components as four overlapping circles.
Treating any one component without treating all three of
the others is incomplete and misleading.
example, ethical leadership must have some driving organizational
purpose, be consistent with organizational values, and have
some vision of the future in mind. We call these the organizational
realistic, these aspirations must reflect and involve the
environment of the organization. These environments are
typically increasingly complex, ever changing, and global.
The aspirations and environment raise challenges for the
members of the organization to meet on a daily basis.
is ultimately successful only if it develops, maintains,
and employs an organizational culture that embraces organizational
aspirations. Otherwise, it is, or will be perceived to be,
arbitrary. The challenge for ethical leadership, then, is
to develop and support an organizational culture such that
the organization and its stakeholders have the capacity
and capability to achieve its organizational aspirations.
These aspirations, in turn, must be congruent with the organization's
ethical leadership to be effective, it must be rooted in,
or actively developing, the organizational culture. Hence,
the essence of effective ethical leadership (which
is redundant because ethical leadership is necessarily effective)
is its ability to develop or maintain the appropriate organizational
culture to survive and thrive in its environment.
makes no essential difference whether the organization purports
to be rules-based, principles-based, or values-based. Whether
it is successful or not depends upon the environment in
which it would survive and thrive. As a result, ethical
integration-or integrating values and principles into practice-is
essentially dealing with either transforming or maintaining
the organizational culture.
Ethics and Applied Ethics. Organizational
ethics is a developing field that recognizes a dynamic in
organizational life that requires its own special attention
regardless of the purpose of the organization. Organizational
ethics is one of the four broad categories of applied and
figure above depicts the integration of applied ethics as
four overlapping circles of ethical theory and practice:
of Social Purpose
organization, these overlap where awareness, reasoning and
action are brought together by leadership. A contribution
from each circle is a necessary, but not sufficient condition
for an effective ethics system. Ethical leadership is required
to identify and integrate those approaches within each circle
that are appropriate for the organization.
Ethics of Social Purpose include the various bodies
of values and principles that govern a particular practice.
Examples of social purpose ethics include: medical ethics,
nursing ethics, banking ethics, legal ethics, biomedical
ethics, and accounting ethics. Which bodies of ethics apply
to a particular organization depends upon its vision and
the tasks required to achieve it.
the Ethics of Social Responsibility are three broad
categories: government, for-profit, and not-for-profit.
Each type of organization has broadly different responsibilities
within society, which are of the essence of its nature.
has different opportunities and constraints on action.
essence of government is its monopoly on the exercise
of coercion and violence within a community: the police,
the military, and the courts.
essence of for-profits is meeting the most urgent needs
of owners and consumers through free exchange: business
and the professions.
essence of not-for-profits is meeting the needs and values
of a community without coercion or exchange: charity or
these functions may merge within any particular organization.
For example, the military may take on humanitarian assistance,
a business may contribute to the opera society, or an educational
institution may contract for consulting services. Nonetheless,
complete understanding requires keeping the essence of any
organizational entity-and its avowed social purpose-firmly
there are levels of socials responsibility for each sector.
In business, for example, there are at least three levels:
Social Responsibility is to be accountable for meeting
the most urgent needs of consumers in the most effective
and efficient manner with due regard to the external
Citizen Social Responsibility is to meet the most
urgent needs of consumers, as described above, without
harming the longer-term interests of the consumers or
those otherwise affected, or doing so unethically, which
precludes using economic power to gain competitive advantage
solely through political means.
Social Responsibility is going beyond the requirements
of the lower levels, that is, taking actions that are
good for the community if taken, but otherwise responsible,
if not taken.
through this lens, a business organization that effectively
and efficiently meets the most urgent needs of consumers
is socially responsible. That is precisely what it
is responsible to the community for doing. Contributing
to local charities or the Opera Guild to the extent that
the organization is unable to effectively and efficiently
meet consumer needs would be essentially irresponsible.
Ethics is that body of concepts, values, and principles
that both defines opportunities for life and places limits
on freedom of action in the struggle for existence. All
of ethics evolved so far rests upon a single premise: that
the individual is a member of a community of interdependent
parts. These approaches have largely been centered on the
human community to the exclusion of the world around it.
ethics enlarges the boundaries of the relevant community
to include soils, water, plants, and animals, or collectively-the
land. This enlargement of the community requires more than
applying existing theory to a broader community, however.
the community-more properly reentering the broader community-requires
a rethinking of economics and politics as well. It also
requires looking to the broader community for concepts,
values, principles and practices to guide our individual
and organizational behavior.
Ethics of Organizational Life is the domain of the structures,
systems, practices, procedures, and protocols necessary
for a body of people to achieve their shared visions in
accordance with its core purpose and values and organizational
culture. The thrust of organizational ethics is to increase
human energy, knowledge, and trust-and to drive out fear.
Organizational ethics applies to all organizational life,
regardless of specific social purpose. As such, it shapes
the process and content of dialogue and the context for
ethical awareness, reasoning, leadership, and action.
Integrity as Learning. It has been said that the arrival
of the notion of the learning organization marks the progress
of management thought and practice from a material resource
orientation to a knowledge orientation. In our view, the
next step toward organizational integrity is to have the
concept of knowledge embrace self-realization.
of ecological survival suggests that learning about one's
environment must equal or exceed its rate of change. Real
learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human.
Such learning is not just learning so that one might survive,
or "adaptive learning." Rather, it must be "generative learning,"
or learning that expands the person's capacity to create
the results and be in the position that he or she truly
desires. Organizational survival and flourishing require
that an organization develop the human capability for generative
learning in order to reduce its vulnerability to change
and to enhance its ability to embrace the opportunities
that flourishes is service-driven. It must know and understand
the purposes and visions; values and beliefs; goals and
objectives; and points of view and expectations of all those
who have a stake in its success: customers, suppliers, communities,
competitors, and employees and other agents.
clearly understood organizational aspirations, which include
a purpose beyond profit, and the capacity to support its
stakeholders in learning and growth. It surfaces a vision
for the organization as a whole and specific challenges
for each of its members. This vision and these challenges
are shared by its stakeholders.
Learning and Flow. Organizational learning is a practice
that employs human capability, over time, under such conditions,
and in such a manner that its members develop the ability
to master consciousness itself in order to take control
of their own lives. In doing so, work becomes intrinsically
valuable. Work becomes sacred and noble.
the works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, there are six necessary,
but not sufficient conditions for organizational learning:
Meaningful activity (a bundle of opportunities for action,
or "challenges"), which is goal-directed and bounded by
clear rules for action.
knowledge, understanding, and attitudes appropriate to
what must be done.
that are well-matched by a person's ability to employ
his or her capabilities.
situation that provides the opportunity to become concentrated
feedback to permit a clear vision, an insightful view
of current reality, and reasonable expectations of the
possibilities of action.
sense that influencing the creative process is possible
above conditions are met, one will experience "flow," described
by Csikszentmihalyi as:
A sense of pleasure.
merging of awareness and action.
sense of control.
altered sense of time, which usually seems to pass faster.
sense of harmony and growth.
sense that the experience is worth doing for its own sake.
activity, according to Csikszentmihalyi, has two aspects:
and vision that identify us as a part of a universal order
and harmonious growth.
that allow us to express our potential, to learn about
our limits, to stretch our being.
figure below depicts, if challenges exceed capabilities,
the result is anxiety. If capabilities exceed challenges,
the result is boredom. But where the conditions are met,
the result is a creative tension that spurs excellence,
flow, and learning and growth. More
the purpose, values and vision of the organization that
inspire and define legitimate organizational challenges.
Meeting the challenges of serving customers, the governed
or beneficiaries, therefore, provides the individual challenges
that lead to learning and growth. To meet these challenges,
however, requires unprecedented cooperation in inquiry and
action. It is the formal structures, systems, practices,
and protocols of the organization, together with is organizational
culture, that support or interfere with individual capability.
Ultimately, it is organizational integrity that leads to
the organization as a community of inquiry and action: a
community where work is both excellent and intrinsically
valuable. Some have thought of such work as sacred.
that the promise of lifelong employment is gone, there is
nonetheless a growing sense that our societies will only
survive and flourish if there is a social compact of lifelong
learning. It is in many ways a return to the earlier tribal
societies in which human beings relied upon each other for
mutual support to deal with the world around them.