Ethics and O.L. LO16432

Bill Harris (
Tue, 6 Jan 1998 08:36:17 -0800 (PST)

Replying to LO16409 --


> 1) In defining the L.O. is it helpful to include explicit mention of
> matters of ethics?

It's probably helpful to include explicit mention of matters of ethics
from time to time in most dialogs, so including it here is probably
useful, too. I'd be careful about linking them too tightly, though. I
see them as independent concepts which certainly can be linked. When they
occur together, there would seem to be a potentially synergistic effect.
My concern is that I'm not sure I can categorize an organization as an LO
(EFO --- ethics friendly organization) by first determining that it is an
EFO (LO). If I were to do so, I fear I would dilute the concept.

> 2) In discussing ETHICS in the workplace context is it helpful to
> introduce the LO?

Certainly. At some level, an LO is just about (organizational) reflection
and thinking and working on reducing the gaps between what one is and what
one wants to be. Those concepts would certainly seem to be helpful in
creating what you term the EFO. Perhaps I see it more as an action
research (or action inquiry or whichever action technology you choose)
issue than an LO issue, although the two are linked.

> Do we, for example, introduce the LO as (by definition) an "ethical org."
> (by contrast with the purely money-driven, impersonal "throw away" corp.)?

No, I don't think so. If you can already identify an organizational as
ethical, why link it so to the LO concept? What you stated would seem to
say that, if I could identify an organization as an LO, I would
automatically have to attribute ethical behavior to it. That would define
ethical behavior as that which an LO does, which would seem to lead us

> Or do we treat it as a prime example of the "ethics-friendly org."?

I'm still nervous about the word "prime". I'll accept that if you replace
"prime" with "potential".

Good luck with the next session of your course. I was just reading an
interview with Rupert Lay in the January, 1998 issue of "manager magazin"
(German); at the end, the magazine listed a bibliography of (German
language) books on ethics in business. They look interesting, and I found
it of interest (and good) that they devoted that much text to the subject.
I need to browse Fortune and Forbes to see if they have devoted similar
emphasis to the topic. I suspect Lay's current controversial status in
Germany (he's a Jesuit priest as well as business consultant, and the
Catholic Church has forbidden him to teach on religious matters because of
his stand on certain issues) helped get him an audience at this time,
although he seems to be well known and successful in helping businesses
independent of this controversy.



Bill Harris                             Hewlett-Packard Co. 
R&D Engineering Processes               Lake Stevens Division 
domain:               M/S 330
phone: (425) 335-2200                   8600 Soper Hill Road
fax: (425) 335-2828                     Everett, WA 98205-1298 

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