Morality in Learning Organisations LO18009

Staff Development (
Thu, 7 May 1998 14:59:35 +1000 (EST)

Replying to LO17934 --

Richard Karash wrote:

---big snip---

>Then, I think this thread is really about Ethics... Is the stance for
>Organizational Learning an ethical stance?
>To me, a basic principle for a learning organization is respect for every
>individual. To me, this is good ethics.

In Australia, organisational ethics are currently a hot issue. A mine in
the outback town of Cobar, owned by a multi-national corporation, became
unprofitable. The multi-national transferred ownership of the mine to a
"shell" company, which promptly went into liquidation. Not only were the
miners suddenly thrown out of a job, but they were robbed of their
accumulated entitlements (leave, superannuation, redundancy pay, etc)
since they had no legal access to the multi-national's assets.

Even bigger controversy has occurred on the Australian waterfront. The
law prohibits discrimination against workers for belonging to a union.
However, the stevedoring company Patrick wished to deunionise its
workforce, in order to improve work practices. So they reorganised their
corporate structure following the Cobar precedent. Subsiduaries were
created whose only purpose was to hire the union workers, and whose only
asset was a contract from the primary Patrick company to provide labor.

The contract was terminated, sending the subsiduaries into liquidation.
The union workers were evicted at midnight by balaclava-clad security
guards and dogs. And a new non-union workforce, secretly trained in
Dubai, immediately took their place.

In both these cases, the management did NOT "respect every individual".
Another important ethical principle was also absent - the ends do not
justify the means.


Richard Hills <>

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