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Start Ethics in Organizations (ll): Organizational Change, Improvement and Order
26 August 2013

Ethics in Organizations (ll): Organizational Change, Improvement and Order

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In the previous post we talked about the reason for ethics in business, and concluded that the challenge is to make the management of an organization ethical as well as successful. But how do you address this challenge in organizations?

Organizational change and improvement

In developing these ideas the fact is highlighted that there is stress in the businessman’s or administrator’s activity when managing an organization. On the one hand, the businessman aims to maximize the company’s profits just as the administrator aims to maximize his organization’s productivity, both within an ethical/humanistic framework. How do you reconcile both these interests that are so diverse? Someone said it’s like trying to mix oil and water, and that it actually becomes an oxymoron or contradiction in itself.

To achieve this reconciliation, the leader must make a journey in his mind that is difficult for him. This journey has to go from utilitarianism that has ideologically supported capitalism in recent centuries, passing through communicative ethics in which the other is accepted as a person in an ideal situation of dialogue and eventually reach possessing an anthropological view in which people are an ends and never a means. In this way he will seek to reach an ethic of justice, in which it is given to each one it is due to.

When you ask a philosopher, who agrees with the above, what to do or how to implement ethics in an organization, he would say go to the specialist in the organizations so they can contribute the appropriate solution with their work methods.

Thus, these words are intended to provide some practical and concrete ideas to follow in order to kick start change in organizations, going from an unethical situation to another in which it prevails.

The ultimate goal of organizations

It has been said that every man proposes, as an ultimate goal, obtaining a good (teleology [1]), and not just any, but always the best: ‘happiness’. Teleology studies the end causes or the ultimate meaning of things. The teleology of a company has to do with the ultimate meaning or the raison d’être of companies as business organizations. People have achieving happiness as their ultimate raison d’être. That is a eudemonistic teleology [2], but companies cannot be attributed with the condition of being happy, only people. Companies will have lasting over time as their raison d’être, as they were set up for this reason.

As for the business mission in general, it must be emphasized that maximizing profits in business enterprises should be a secondary priority, not the basic one, since the first will be ensuring their survival, as Gellerman noted in Why “Good” Managers Make Bad Ethical Choices to which it must be added, seeking an active permanence of the organization as explained in the next post with the humanistic utilitarianism model.


Fernando Menéndez González

Researcher and Professor, Instituto Politécnico Nacional (Mexico)


[1] telos = telos in Greek = end.

[2] Eudaimonia: “Means good fate, fortune or destiny. Aristotle used to say that good behavior leads to the attainment of the highest good, which is happiness”. Prado Galán in Ética, profesión y medios. La apuesta por la libertad en el éxtasis de la comunicación (Ethics, profession and media. The commitment to freedom in the ecstasy of communication).

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