Evaluation and resolution of ethical issues

01/09/2021 0 By indiafreenotes

The problem with ethical decision making is that a decision in itself cannot be taken in a vacuum; one single decision affects lots of other decisions and the key is to strike a balance to ensure a win-win situation is arrived upon.

Though there are no golden rules to resolve ethical issues but managers can take a number of initiatives to resolve ethical issues. A brief description is given below.

Know the Principles

In ethical decision making there are three basic principles that can be used for resolution of problem. These three principles are that of intuitionism, moral idealism and utilitarianism.

The principle of intuition works on the assumption that the HR person or the manager is competent enough to understand the seriousness of the situation and act accordingly, such that the final decision does not bring any harm to any person involved directly or indirectly.

The principle of moral idealism on the other hand states that there is a clear distinction between good and bad, between what is acceptable and what is not and that the same is true for all situations. It therefore asks to abide by the rule of law without any exception.

Utilitarianism concerns itself with the results or the implications. There is no clear distinction between what is good and what is bad; the focus is on the situation and the outcome. What may be acceptable in a certain situation can be unacceptable at some other place. It underlines that if the net result of the decision is an increase in the happiness of the organization, the decision is the right one.

Debate Moral Choices

Before taking a decision, moral decisions need to be thought upon and not just accepted blindly. It is a good idea to make hypothetical situations, develop case studies and then engage others in brainstorming upon the same. This throws some light into the unknown aspects and widens the horizon of understanding and rational decision making.

Balance Sheet Approach

In balance sheet approach, the manager writes down the pros and cons of the decision. This helps arrive at a clear picture of things and by organizing things in a better way.

Engage People Up and Down the Hierarchy

One good practice is to announce ones stand on various ethical issues loudly such that a clear message to every member of the organization and to those who are at the greater risk of falling prey to unethical practices. This will prevent the employees from resorting to unethical means.

Integrating Ethical Decision Making into Strategic Management

Morality and ethical make up for a perennial debate and ethical perfection is almost impossible. A better way to deal with this is to integrate ethical decision making into strategic management of the organization. The way the HR manager gains an alternate perspective rather than the traditional employee oriented or stakeholder-oriented view.

When considering ethical issues, it is advised that you follow a stepwise approach in your decision-making process:

  • Recognize there is an issue
  • Identify the problem and who is involved
  • Consider the relevant facts, laws and principles
  • Analyze and determine possible courses of action
  • Implement the solution
  • Evaluate and follow up

Identify​ the Ethical Issue and Decision-making Process:

  • Engage in reflective practice and consider your “gut reaction” to the situation: What preconceptions and judgements might you bring to the situation? What are your loyalties and intuitions? Where do these come from?
  • State the conflict or dilemma as you currently see it: Try to articulate the issue in one sentence. If you can’t, it may be better to break the problem down into two questions or issues and tackle them one at a time. Example of ethics question: “Given (state uncertainty or conflict about values), what decisions or actions are ethically justifiable?”
  • Determine best process for decision-making: How urgent is the situation? How can stakeholders best be engaged? Who ultimately has decision-making authority? Stakeholders deserve to know and understand how and why a decision that affects them was made. It is important to remember that transparency is not just about the transmission of information; it is also about keeping people engaged constructively in the process. In the rare cases where confidentiality is ethically necessary, the process should still be made as transparent as possible while identifying the confidentiality constraints explicitly.

Study ​the facts:

  • In any complex situation, different parties will have different views of the facts of the situation. Ideally, all stakeholders should have a chance to present their views to one another in a respectful, open environment, considering both the context of the situation and the evidence.
  • Stakeholder Perspectives: all stakeholders should have an opportunity to voice their views about the issue (staff, community, patients, partners, etc.)
  • Evidence: include risks and benefits to the organisation and patients; impact of situation on quality or services; best practices, etc.
  • Contextual Features: internal and external directives and partnerships (i.e. academic commitments); legal considerations (i.e. agreements, legislation, etc.); past cases; cultural or environmental issues (i.e. staff morale); public opinion
  • Resource Implications: human and financial

Select​ Reasonable Options:

Always look for more than two. Try brainstorming options without evaluating at first, or start by describing your “ideal” solution and work backwards to options that are more realistic given the context.

Understand ​Values & Duties:

  • Which values are in conflict? Where values may be compromised, what can you do to minimise the negative impact?
  • Are there professional or legal obligations or standards to consider?
  • Consider how various options reflect or support the duties, principles and values

Evaluate ​& Justify Options:

  • For each option consider: What are the possible harms to various stakeholders?
  • What are the probable benefits to various stakeholders?
  • What will be the impact on staff, our mission and quality of care?
  • Which duties, principles and values support this option?
  • What if everyone in these circumstances did this? (Does this set a good example? Are we making it easier or harder for others to do the right thing?)
  • Does it meet Organisational Justice requirements: procedural justice, distributive justice, relational justice?
  • Does your solution answer the question you described above?
  • Choose the option with the best consequences overall and closest alignment with key duties, principles and values
  • Clearly state reasons for the decision. Remember that you are not aiming at “the perfect” choice, but a good and defensible choice under the circumstances.
  • Anticipate how you might answer criticisms.

Sustain ​& Review the Plan:

Accepting responsibility for an ethical choice means ensuring that the decision made is enacted by articulating a clear plan of action, communicating it to stakeholders appropriately and addressing systems that might have contributed to the problem. It also means accepting the possibility that you might be wrong or that you may need to revise your decision in light of new information or changing circumstances. In reviewing the plan consider:

  • How well did the decision-making process work?
  • Was the decision carried out?
  • Was the result satisfactory?
  • Does this situation point to a systems problem (e.g. policy gap)?
  • What lessons were learned from the situation?
  • How will the team respond to similar situations in the future?
  • Are there opportunities to appeal or modify the decision based on new information?
  • Have new questions emerged? (If so, do they require similar deliberation?)
  • Is there a formal evaluation plan in place to monitor progress, good practices and opportunities for improvement?