The context for managerial dilemmas : moral quicksands and webs of deceit ?

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent research from the USA has painted, for the humanistically inclined, a bleak picture of the ethical predicaments of business executives. Jackall (1988) conducted 143 interviews with managers in three organisations. He explored, essentially, the following question:

"Bureaucracy poses for managers an intricate set of moral mazes ... the puzzle for many individual managers becomes: How does one act in such a world and maintain a sense of personal integrity?" (Jackall,1988: 193-194).

Among his conclusions is the following:
"Some of the fundamental requirements of managerial work clash with the normal ethics governing interpersonal behaviour, let alone friendship in our society" (Jackall, 1988: 195).

Toffler (1986), interviewed 33 managers in 4 American organisations about dilemmas that they had faced in their work. She observes:

"If a manager had selected a job well and was lucky, her values were congruent with those of the company and she could act comfortably according to those values. If a manager had not found as good a match, however, he was faced with the choice of loyally complying against his values, of refusing to comply at the risk of losing job or career advantage, or of being creative about finding a way to solve a particular problem without having any impact on the conditions that may have created it." (Toffler, 1986: 329).

The lack of match between organisational and individual values was the root of many of the particular dilemmas experienced by Jackall's and Toffler's managers. Imperatives from within their organisation's hierarchy were often tangential to the direction of their individual conscience, and sometimes ran counter to it.
There has as yet been no systematic research concerning how far these findings apply to British managers' experience of their organisations. Maclagan (1983) has pointed to the possibility of conflict between organisationally defined responsibilities and personal, self-defined responsibility. My research has begun to explore this in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-65
Number of pages5
JournalManagement Research News
Volume14
Issue number7/8/9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

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Managers
Moral dilemmas
World Wide Web
Responsibility
Friendship
Individual values
Organizational values
Managerial work
Bureaucracy
Integrity

Cite this

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title = "The context for managerial dilemmas : moral quicksands and webs of deceit ?",
abstract = "Recent research from the USA has painted, for the humanistically inclined, a bleak picture of the ethical predicaments of business executives. Jackall (1988) conducted 143 interviews with managers in three organisations. He explored, essentially, the following question:{"}Bureaucracy poses for managers an intricate set of moral mazes ... the puzzle for many individual managers becomes: How does one act in such a world and maintain a sense of personal integrity?{"} (Jackall,1988: 193-194). Among his conclusions is the following:{"}Some of the fundamental requirements of managerial work clash with the normal ethics governing interpersonal behaviour, let alone friendship in our society{"} (Jackall, 1988: 195).Toffler (1986), interviewed 33 managers in 4 American organisations about dilemmas that they had faced in their work. She observes: {"}If a manager had selected a job well and was lucky, her values were congruent with those of the company and she could act comfortably according to those values. If a manager had not found as good a match, however, he was faced with the choice of loyally complying against his values, of refusing to comply at the risk of losing job or career advantage, or of being creative about finding a way to solve a particular problem without having any impact on the conditions that may have created it.{"} (Toffler, 1986: 329). The lack of match between organisational and individual values was the root of many of the particular dilemmas experienced by Jackall's and Toffler's managers. Imperatives from within their organisation's hierarchy were often tangential to the direction of their individual conscience, and sometimes ran counter to it.There has as yet been no systematic research concerning how far these findings apply to British managers' experience of their organisations. Maclagan (1983) has pointed to the possibility of conflict between organisationally defined responsibilities and personal, self-defined responsibility. My research has begun to explore this in practice.",
author = "Robin SNELL",
year = "1991",
doi = "10.1108/eb028157",
language = "English",
volume = "14",
pages = "61--65",
journal = "Management Research Review",
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The context for managerial dilemmas : moral quicksands and webs of deceit ? / SNELL, Robin.

In: Management Research News, Vol. 14, No. 7/8/9, 1991, p. 61-65.

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

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