Ethics and supportive systems are critical within an organization. Autonomy is a potential stimulator of ethics in an organization. It refers to the extent to which workers are provided with the independence to plan on how to do their duties. Autonomy has been noted to motivate workers and usually increases the level of job satisfaction. Autonomy can be used by the organization to solve organizational problems such as efficiency. One way of doing so is designing a system in which a worker deals with a problem independently. Enhancing an ethical working environment helps to initiate this. The management, however, has to oversee the activities of the workers. The management has the responsibility of ensuring that the workers maintain responsible conduct (Cooper, 2012). Availing necessary ethical enabling factors is thus critical for the management.
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The need for the management to maintain responsibility among the workers calls for monitoring techniques. Cooper explains that one way of giving autonomy to the workers. Additionally, he explains ways of monitoring. This is explained through the principle-agent theory, in which the manager is the principal while the worker is the agent (Cooper, 2012). However, this theory mainly focuses on the efficiency of the worker and does not have ethical considerations. There may also be problems if the principles are many. Particularly, this applies to public agents who are accountable to many principles. In such cases, there is usually the rise of issues of loyalty.
The delimitation of the organization and the bill of rights are ways through which autonomy can be attained (Cooper, 2012). In the structure of the organization, the worker is a mere actor with roles to perform. Organizational delimitation ensures that workers do their individual actions and remain responsible for their actions. The bill of rights, on the other hand, ensures that the organization does not dominate the lives of the workers. The worker’s autonomy is composed of the need to promote professionalism and the need for mechanisms for controlling the organization’s power. In addition, autonomy promotes self-awareness concerning rights, duties, and values.
Autonomy enables the worker to act ethically, for example, to whistle blow. The worker first evaluates the situation and looks into the positive and negative effects of reporting unethical actions (Cooper, 2012). It is important to understand the power relationships between the whistleblower and the wrongdoer. Additionally, understanding the worker’s perception of wrongdoing is important in understanding whistle blowing. Whistleblowing can have negative effects; for example, the whistleblower may be intimidated and harassed by the management.
According to Cooper, team player ethic is idea management uses to ensure that the workers are loyal to the organization (Cooper, 2012). The workers, therefore, are allowed to be autonomous only if they are loyal to the organization. This means that an employee will be viewed with suspicion if he attempts to exercise ethical autonomy by showing loyalty to another organization or the public. However, some organizations have attempted to consider the positive effects of autonomy and have employed strategies to maintain workers’ discretion.
One such strategy is to have a hotline where workers can leave information and be anonymous. This strategy ensures the security of the whistleblower of corrupt activities within the organization. This strategy has been used by the federal government that had established the government accountability office for reporting of corrupt activities of public officials anonymously (Cooper, 2012). Basically, organizations and public sector agencies have employed diverse strategies for enhancing ethical standards. It is amazing the performance improvements that are attainable when ethical conduct is esteemed within organizations.
Cooper, T. (2012). The Responsible Administrator: An Approach to Ethics for the Administrative Role. New Jersey, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
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