Ethical Management Procedures
Manage There are so many instances in life where ethics play a major role in decisions that we, as humans, make. Ethical decision making processes take place mostly when conclusions are reached that directly effect people, but what are ethics? The Random House-Webster’s Dictionary of Modern English defines ethics as: The branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of actions and the goodness and badness of motives and ends. This paints a pretty clear picture of what it means to make ethical decisions. This sounds like if you just follow your conscience then it would be fairly easy to come up with the right verdict. There is only one flaw in respect to this hypothesis; it doesn¹t always work. A prime example of this is the space shuttle Challenger accident that took place on 28 January 1986. This accident, That affected many lives beyond those of the crew, was a direct result of managerial breakdown. The text offers two paths which managers can take when formatting decisions. The first of these are programmed decisions which are routine, repetitive, well structured situations through the use of predetermined decision rules. If we clearly analyze the Challenger Case we can
see that this set of principles doesn¹t apply. There was no standard operating procedure here for unreliable O-rings. This was not an assembly line where one flaw will shut down an entire days work. This was a space craft with people in it and the only profit to be made here was the advancement of science. As stated in the text when we begin to get into Nonprogrammed decisions we can see that as situations become random and illstructured they seek the advise of upper levels of management. This was a very random problem that occurred with the defective O-rings, therefore it would have worked its way up to the higher managerial departments for approval. The Rational model tells us that when managers make these decisions, no matter how random they may be, that they have all the information fully and most importantly that they
understand it properly. In a role where others peoples lives are in your hands this becomes essential to success. When reading the material about the challenger case it becomes clear that the upper levels of management that were responsible did not possess all of the information. This is their fault, they should have made sure that they completely understood all vital information. I Know this first hand, being a noncommissioned officer in the Army I needed to actively seek out all information to make sure that my subordinates knew more than I did. You can delegate tasks but you can never delegate responsibility. This sounds stupid but it makes sense. Another aspect that plagues the ethical decision making is that of biases. This is a large factor in the decision to launch. There was a tremendous amount of governmental heat coming down to get this shuttle of the ground. When this kind of pressure is inflicted it is very easy for the pros to outweigh the cons which in turn creates biases in decision making processes. The main element that led to the biases in this tragedy was anchoring and adjustment and overconfidence, The management team settled for the decision to launch and justified it as a please all tactic. The had pressure to launch and
therefore put to much faith in equipment on its reputation alone when they knew it was not 100% goof-roofed. It is easy to see that there were many factors that disrupted ethical thinking in this cse. Every manager is going to misjudge their actions from time to time. However, in this business there was no margin for error, and human lives were lost. This is sad but the real tragedy lies in the fact that all managers new this outcome was very possible.
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