General Introduction to Management Ethics

Benefits of Ethics in Management

According to Johannes J. Britz – ethics is a branch of philosophy that deals with human conduct and character. Ethics reflects questions such as what would be the right thing to to? et al. He furthers states that the process of ethical decision making consists of the identification and assessment of the problem, the choice to act and the action itself which is based on ethical norms and principles.

For the information professional such as the librarian Britz applied the concept of information ethics which is defined as professional ethics that deals with ethical issues such as professional gathering, organizing, value adding, storage, retrieval, distribution and management of information products and services on behalf of a third party (public). Thus the librarian should uphold the ethics of individual and collective responsibility towards knowledge, its production, communication and use.

Ethical Issues

  • Right to access information
  • Right to intellectual property
  • Quality of information
  • Right to privacy
  • Public funding issues

Managing Ethics in the Workplace

Elizabeth A Buchanan states it is best to have a Code of Ethics in libraries as it provides a framework of guidelines for justice, beneficence, independence, objectivity and professionalism. As such, a Code of Ethics should be viewed as a set of ‘best practices’ as it will reduce anxiety and pressure to living up to the code. The Code reflects professional ethics of obligations to society, obligations to employer, obligations to clients and obligations to colleagues and organizations. As a result, it is important that persons be educated about ethics starting at school and continuing in the workplace.


According to Hauptman (1988) self regulation can be affirmed through a set of operative ethical principles.

1. Respect the integrity of data and information.

2. Do not purposefully or inadvertently distort, fabricate, plagiarize or manipulate in order to give a false impression.

3. Do not attempt to control others’ articulations and thereby control their thought.

4. Respect professional confidentiality

5. Distinguish between personal commitment and professional obligation.

Other benefits that can redound to an organization with an ethics program are as follows:

· Social responsibility

· Maintain a moral course

· Cultivate strong teamwork and productivity

· Support employee growth and meaning

· Ethics help ensure that policies are legal

· Ethics help manage values associated with quality management, strategic planning and diversity management

· Ethics promote a strong public image.

It is said best by Donaldson and Davis, in “Business Ethics? Yes, But What Can it Do for the Bottom Line?” (Management Decision, V28, N6, 1990) ethics legitimizes managerial actions, strengthens the coherence and balance of the organization’s culture, improves trust in relationships between individuals and groups, supports greater consistency in standards and qualities of products, and cultivates greater sensitivity to the impact of the enterprise’s values and messages.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Code of Ethics: Strengths and Limitations

The Code of Ethics: Strengths and Limitations

What They Can Do

They help you find answers

They protect you against pressure to censure holdings or compromise privacy

They are a pledge to your patron about how their rights, interests and privacy will be


They tell you what the professional standards of behavior are

What They Can’t Do

They can’t force ethical behavior

They are not a panacea

They can’t give you answers

Monday, July 30, 2007

Restrictive Gift Case Study

Place your comments on the restrictive gift case study here. We will talk about these during class.

Homeless Case Study

Post your comments about the homeless case study here. We will discuss this in class tomorrow.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ethics Survey

Here is an instrument utilized to help gauge various libraries' responses to ethics issues.

Our Stakeholders - Some Models for Understanding Relationships

Click here for the models:

Click here for "Identifying Stakeholders"

Click here for "Stakeholders in Project Management Lifecycle - Library Construction" table:

Ethical Decision Making Models in Librarianship

Stephen Shorb, the associate director for the George A. Smathers Library at the University of Florida, believes that librarians make ethical decisions everyday. In order to make those decisions Shorb believes that librarians should follow Raganathan's Five Laws of Library Science. These laws, which Raganathan wrote in 1931 are:
  1. Books are for use
  2. Every reader his/her book
  3. Every book its reader
  4. Save the time of the reader
  5. The library is a growing organism
Although Raganathan uses the term "book" he wrote that this includes all library materials. Book is just a generic term.

So can ethical decisions be made using these laws? Can librarians base their decisions on a set of rules that were written 76 years ago? Do these laws still apply? Should librarians follow these rules or follow a code of ethics?

These ideas were taken from the article "Ethical Decision Making in Library Administration" by Stephen Shorb. It was published in The Southeastern Librarian volume 52.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ethical Questions Involving Library Theft Prevention

According to Thomas B. Witt, a librarian with the New York Public Library System, librarians must answer several questions relating to their collection to prevent theft. I believe these questions all have ethical aspects that each library must consider for itself. Here are some of Witt's observations. Please discuss the ethical issues involved with each point.
  1. An employee should never be on the premises alone. No employee should be permitted to check-out materials for his/her own self-- a co-worker should handle the transaction instead, preferably in the presence of a manager. Any materials checked-out for an employee should be placed in a bag that is stapled shut and put on a shelf in the manager's office until departure.
  2. The penalty for taking home materials without first checking them out should be immediate dismissal.
  3. If one cannot afford to install security equipment to protect items of special value, it might be wise to sell a rare or valuable item, rather than incur the risk of theft.
  4. Organize a student library security program to combat theft. The students would patrol the stacks and stop people who they feel have stolen items
  5. To protect heavily stolen journal items professors should put the material on reserve or hand-out photocopies of the article in class.
These ideas were taken from the article "The Use of Electronic Book Theft Detection Systems in Libraries" by Thomas B. Witt.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Philosophical Schools of Ethics

Philosophical Schools of Ethics in Thesaurus Form - Click Here for chart