Rewarding and Punishing the Same Behavior

In this report, the reasons are explained with examples that lead managers of organization toward an unethical decision. People believe that deep unethicality distorts ethical decision making. But according to Ann Tenbrunsel and her colleague David Messick, the top level management of an organization often takes such unethical decisions out of thinking business purely rather than considering morality. The phenomenon is named as “Ethical Fading”. Sometimes leader’s ill-conceived goals lead employees to involve in unethical activities.
For example management wants employees to maximize sales rather than profit. As a result employees force customers to sell their product and sometimes they become ridiculous. Also sometimes they overcharge for the unexpected service which the customer doesn’t want actually. Leader’s setting goal should take the perspective of those whose behavior they are trying to influence and think through their potential responses. This will help head off unintended consequences and prevent employees from overlooking alternative goals.
People ignore some information which can affect their interest can termed as motivated blindness. For example some rating agencies rate organizations positively since the agencies are paid by those organizations. So people fail to judge organizations due to due to serious violation of ethical practices by the agencies. Bazerman and Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino explored to a situation termed as slow emergence of unethical behavior.

This slow poisoning is often overlooked by the management which led to ultimate failure to hold the objective of the organization. For this managers should be heightened alert for even trivial-seeming infractions and address them immediately. Another common practice in corporate world is to overvaluing outcomes. Like rewarding unethical decision for its good outcomes and punishing ethical decisions for bad outcomes is a recipe for disaster in the long run.
Managers should beware this bias; examine the behaviors that drive good outcomes and reward quality decisions, not just results. Companies are trying to improve the ethicality of employees according to Bezerman and Tenbrunsel. But this ethical practice should not be forced. Management should create such environment or make structure where employees willingly accept ethical practices and work accordingly. Above all, a leader should should be concern about his own blind spots, which may permit or even encourage, the unethical behaviors that he is trying to extinguish.

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