Ethics Research

Two decades ago a research report was published titled: Business and Technology Management Curriculum: Changing Requirements.

The report is a comparative study of four graduate degrees from highly ranked universities.

During the research process, opinions of business, industry, academia, and accreditation agencies were reviewed to establish required outcomes of a graduate program in business and technology management:

Accreditation guidelines from regional and professional organizations were studied;

A matrix aligning industry, academia and accreditation requirements was created;

A survey instrument was developed using the outcome as established by the matrix;

A survey of professionals employed in the fields of business and technology management was conducted.

Survey Outcome

    Ethics was identified as an area not covered in any of the four-degree curriculums, and not considered a responsibility by surveyed professionals.

Potential Cause

Beginning around 1990, business schools may have embraced the concept that what is unethical may not necessarily be illegal.

This revelation may be the root of false advertising methods used as marketing tools to affect consumer behavior.

Current contracts are written to avoid product liability suits by wording to limit or transfer liability to additional parties.

Businesses appear to use unethical logic more frequently by becoming at-one with their auditors or licensors with serious outcomes. Refer to number five below.

This culture of unethical . . . although not illegal behavior also appears more frequently in politics. Politicians intentionally make contradictory statements regarding issues, even on the same day . . . when addressing different audiences.

As for the citizen . . . ignorance of the law is not considered a defense.

Developing "The Guide" entries requires some degree of proofing for normal or abnormal behavior within the system under observation.

1. Ethics, sometimes known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. (Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia)

2. Workplace Ethics: 62 Things that are legal, but 22 of them are unethical. (Ethics Alarms)

3, What's legal? The fact that something is legal doesn’t make it ethical. You might think it’s obvious, but it is not. (The Business Ethics Blog)

4. Social Norms: Are group-held beliefs about how members should behave in a given context. (Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia)

5. Arthur Anderson ethical issues, and research papers on the subject of Ethics. Additional Research Documents available from (StudyMode).

Research Process

When performing observations, and evaluating outcomes of occurrences, be they related to things, ideas and concepts or actions of individuals or groups; observations frequently demonstrate interacting components forming a system.

That is to say, people interact with things and other people, and express ideas and concepts between them as a system.

Yes, even things in the form of technology provide feedback which affects the interaction of things, people, and groups as systems.

The question that must be asked "are ethics within systems normal, abnormal, or manipulated in some way?"

For the purpose of definition, change is always ongoing and the requirement is to perform and evaluate observations, make changes, and perform follow-up evaluations on the changes in an effective manner. This may be challenging.

The following list is intended to be a thumbnail sketch . . . not the most complete, or last word on the subject.

Can you handle the truth? That is a big question. How can we determine what the truth is? Observation is necessary to begin the process, and the following steps may be helpful in reaching the truth.

Step 1 Observe:

Determine . . . the who, what, where, and when of the activity observed. Avoid developing an opinion of the activity.

Step 2 Report:

Discuss and record your observations with other persons observing the same activity. Do all agree that the activity reported occurred? Do not form an opinion at this time.

Step 3 Evaluate:

Begin the process of defining what occurred and how it occurred. Can participants accurately agree to . . . the what and how of the activity observed.

Step 4 Explain:

Persons observing the activity develop an unbiased explanation of the cause of the what and how of the activity. Once again do not form an opinion of the activity observed.

Step 5 Opinion:

Compare the activity as explained to historical, cultural expectations and laws. At this point, an opinion may be developed regarding the activity observed.

The process of making changes and follow-on evaluation of changes to determine the effectiveness occurs at this point. This may become a fast or slow circulating process based on the normal cycle of the subject or system under consideration.

Rarely, except for emotionally charged issues, does the issue under observation progress to the next step without allowance for the normal process of observation, change, and evaluation to occur. It is essentially a runaway emotional issue that needs to cool down for normal processing to occur.

Step 6 Attitude:

Developing an outward verbal, physical or emotional expression regarding the activity observed.

1. Frequently individuals and groups fail to complete the process steps and go straight from observation to an inappropriate expression of attitude based on group influences.

2. In most cases involving courtroom testimony, a majority of witnesses fail to observe and record activities clearly and are easily manipulated as to how and when activities occurred.

Outcome Examples:

Example 1. Regarding the economy, unemployment, and international trade:

The residing president is frequently assigned responsibility for the issues of the day. Further analysis of the facts by following the above process will demonstrate that current economic conditions occur over decades and are addressed in the “New Rules ”category on The Future Guide.

Example 2. Regarding groups of individuals demonstrating on behalf of a political community or international issue:

When interviewed by the media many participants can’t identify or explain the issue for which they are providing support. Too frequently they are expressing an “attitude” without a rational opinion. The expression is more reflective of tyranny than democracy.

Example 3. Media influence becomes propaganda and shields the public from the truth:

Intentional or not, this frequently ensures failed public officials continue on and principled public officials are forced from office. Far too often public policy, legislation, and budgeting address the symptom of problems and not the cause. The result is problems continue on without resolution and serve as bargaining chips during the funding of political campaigns.

Research Considerations

Using statistical analysis to accomplish observation, change and evaluation are the traditional methods. After decades of using this approach, it is apparent that outcomes are becoming less reliable. True, they are important, however, users and applications have become so remote from the subject under observation that natural interpretations of the data and resultant analysis by users are producing misleading outcomes.

During the current recessionary period, eighty percent of business reported normal outcomes which are traditional. However, financial news agencies promoted a recession, depression . . . which followed with naming the follow-on period a bull market. In the final analysis, that would be considered a failure in a research candidates paper. What actually occurred was a failure of ethics . . . in the financial markets . . . which was underwritten by the government . . . which passed the gambling losses back to the public.

Research comprises creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications. It is used to establish or confirm facts, reaffirm the results of previous work, solve new or existing problems, support theorems, or develop new theories. (Wikipedia)

Statistics is the study of the collection, analysis, interpretation, presentation, and organization of data. In applying statistics to, e.g., a scientific, industrial, or societal problem, it is necessary to begin with a population; or process to be studied. (Wikipedia)

Forecasting is the process of making statements about events whose actual outcomes (typically) have not yet been observed. A commonplace example might be the estimation of some variable of interest at some specified future date. (Wikipedia)

Inaccuracies in forecasting outcomes frequently occur for various reasons:

1. The forecaster is using an inappropriate model for the issue under study.

2. Data applied to the model is not accurate, has not been verified and validated, or is from inconsistent populations.

3. Intentional manipulation of outcome analysis and published narratives to misdirect the user.

4. Researchers have personal interests in the outcome which sway the decision-making process to a specified objective.

5. Research is funded by a beneficiary of the research which may impact the design and outcome.

Social Change

Yes, ethics, laws, symptoms and causes are important. However, it is necessary to understand, to some degree, the culture, belief and value systems being observed.

Comparing national systems of a country, i.e. . . . a constitution within a country or in comparison to another country can produce differing results. Observations within and between professional fields and interest groups can also highlight the conflict between cultures and value systems.

The following presentation provides insight regarding social issues surrounding the "IT" as an important concept. The presentation is well worth watching in an attentive manner.

Readers with a background in business, industry, and academia will recognize the similarities of systems processes explained in a social context. Have some patience for the first few minutes of the introduction . . . then the major content will arrive.

Planning and Evaluating for Social Change by Michael Quinn Patton.