Roles of Ethics and Values in Organizational Development

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Ethics and values in the field of organizational development are very popular, widely-used, and essential leadership and management concepts. With the aid of organizational consultants, department supervisors and managers, fostering ethics and values can enhance positive workplace environment for all employees.

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Moreover, upholding ethics and values in the management practice help boost employees confidence, motivation, and effectiveness. There are, however, a few challenges and issues that companies face when it comes to how practitioners may perform their helping relationship with their employees through the application of ethics and values programme.

Apparently, the advantages of having a sound organizational development strategy may start with understanding the concepts of ethics and values in management. Secondly, it is also of value to identify the important roles played by ethics and values in organizational development, as well as how practitioners may adapt. This paper ends with a short conclusion.

Concept of Organizational Development

Simply, organizational development refers to an area of professional practice focused on making organizations better (Anderson, n.d.). There are, however, some contrasting definitions yet remarkable similarity in themes about what constitutes organizational development.

One that is most frequently used is offered by an early organizational development leader, Richard Beckhard, who defines it as: an effort planned, organization-wide, and managed from the top, to increase organization effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organizations processes, using behavioral-science knowledge (in McNamara, 1).

As a field, organizational development began with a clear value bias, begins Griffins and Minors in their report on the values in practice in organizational development. The researchers expounded that the purpose has been to helping organizations to be effective and healthy places in which to work.

Closely related to this theme has been indicated by Compass, et al. that OD is geared to build the capacity or an organization to respond and facilitate personal and organizational change through the use of intervention designed through inter-disciplinary social and behavioral knowledge (2).

Organizational intervention can be designed using knowledge earned from social and behavioral sciences. Thus, it is relative that the practice can also be grounded on a set of core values and ethics principles that guide behavior and actions. Gary McLean have mentioned that among the key values-based principles that guide organizational development are authenticity, collaboration, empowerment, respect, and self-awareness.

The core values and ethics principles that can guide the adoption of organizational development can foster positive organizational and community change. Furthermore, the definitions have underscored how organizational development intervention can aid a person or organization build a stronger position or capacity in resolving problems, addressing crisis, and issues.

Concepts of Values and Ethics in Organizational Development

According to Eduard Spranger, the leading proponent of the six types of values model, value refers to the constellation of standards, or qualities, characteristics, or ideas that determine a persons view of the world (Perera, 2013). In her SlideShare presentation, Perera (2013) listed what Spranger may identify as standards or qualities. These include likes, dislikes, inclinations, rational and irrational judgments, prejudices, association patterns, and viewpoints, among others.

Through values, one may understand an organization and determine that powerful force that affect individual behaviors in the company. Values may provide the basis for judgments on what principles the organization stands for.

Derived from the Greek word ethos which means customs, habits, conduct and character, ethics refers to an individuals personal beliefs on what is right or wrong, good or bad (Perera, 2013). It is said to involve discipline in examining whether something is good or bad practices, within the boundary of moral duty (Perera, 2013). For all intents, ethics provides the basis for judgments on what is regarded as appropriate behavior for a person (Diversity MBA, 2009).

Key Values that Comprise Organizational Development

Using Gary McLeans list of what key values constitute organizational development (28) respect, collaboration, authenticity, self-awareness, social justice and empowerment further elaboration can be helpful for organizational consultants, managers and supervisors in addressing professional ethical and values issues. Thus, through the promotion of these values, ethical conduct can be fostered well in organizational workplace.

Respect, which is first to be mentioned in the list of McLean, means including in workplace meetings, discussions and decision-making different employees perspectives and opinions. The organizational consultants role then is to work hard to be able to understand the skills and needs and feelings of diverse individuals and ensure that those differences are well-respected.

Meanwhile, collaboration is concerned with relationship building among different formal and informal teams and groups within the organization. Authenticity, meanwhile, is about helping ensure that individuals behave well according to their own set of values. In the latter two values mentioned, the consultants role is to help employees to learn sufficient and appropriate skills that would aid them in navigating current and future change. In addition, fostering the value of self-awareness means an organization is committed to its employees inter-personal skills development and enhancement.

Creating a trusting workplace environment is essential in any company. To do this, however, leaders and employees must demonstrate honesty and transparency through the words they speak and their actions. Another key values that is fundamental in organizational development is what is called empowerment, which is helping all employees increase their independent-mindedness while encouraging their productivity at an increased level. Besides, fostering this value can also be promoted when all in the organization are able to participate in the decision-making and change processes whenever appropriate. Finally, instilling social justice is promoting in the workplace democratic instead of autocratic leadership principles.

Furthermore, the key values allow for opportunities for individuals growth. Supporting this argument, Doreen McGunagle argues that the training for individual is to become more self-reliant and motivated (1). To accomplish this task, the company may call for a meeting to allow for different employees to establish connections, see the diverse backgrounds of each other, and the likes. The benefit to the company include having different employees of diverse backgrounds contribute their ideas, skills, and talent. Thus, having set a single goal for every employee helps empower everyone to work towards that goal, and full cooperation can be expected when employees trust each other. The outcome is improved productivity while not severing ties of each employees to one another.

When summed up, these key values of organizational development attest to most literature and theoretical arguments that the same is a field that is inter-disciplinary in nature. In another perspective, the key values supported by organizational development are geared to develop not merely more productive employees but a more productive company.

Value of Ethics in Organizational Development

In contemporary business, founders or business leaders are being perceived as too greedy or too thoughtless in order to gain success at a faster rate. Hence, the value of defining what is ethics and who should manage it is gaining heightened importance in the business world. At some point, many organizations have gone as far as letting their senior management staff to define and manage ethics to allay the negative perceptions and many questions that seem to touch the word ethics.

Some business ethics experts have viewed ethics as a control-based paradigm, which is largely concerned with ensuring the best possible outcome such as becoming socially-acceptable through the creation of ethical codes in the workplace. According to Lawrence Kohlberg, ethical codes encourages people to their pre-conventional level in thinking, judgment and acting. In addition, code of ethics aid managers in providing clear and well-defined objectives to employees.

Moreover, in the helping-consulting process in the practice of organizational development in any company, ethics and culture are vital to the growth and success of any company. As a guide, ethics serves as a set of professional standards that senior executives and practitioners of the field can use in responding to different challenges and situations of a company, especially in thwarting the occurrence of ethical issues.

In her Organization Development blog, Carrie Foster proposes different sense of responsibilities to ensure that the code of ethics meet professional and global standards of organization development field. These five are: 1) serving the good of the whole community and good of individuals; 2) always treating people the way you want to be treated; 3) acting in ways to increase empowerment of people, especially the weaker individuals; 4) contributing to the continuing improvement of professional development and competence, and; 5) empathizing with others and their circumstances (1).

Recommendations for Organization Development Consultants

Consultants in the field of organization development play a bigger role now more than ever in building an ethical organization. Being a consultant of ethical standards to be implemented in their company, they understand well that they are included in accepting responsibility for the consequences of their actions. As well as acting as the overseer of the implementation of the code of professional ethics and values, every effort should be geared to ensure that services they deliver or provide to clients are used for the good of the people within and outside the workplace.

Groups such as the Association for Group Psychotherapy and Group Processes (IAGP) have outlined how professional consultants should perform ethically when providing services to clients. IAGP also spells out the following ethical conducts for consultants, such as: 1) ensuring that consultants clarify agreements about the services to be provided or performed, protect client confidentiality through a clear agreement (9), and that there is no changes to be made in agreements unless a clearly defined terms of shift has been made and relayed to the clients. The IAGP ethical conduct for consultants also addresses concerns about ensuring mutual understanding by putting terms of the contract in writing (10-12).

Beside serving the short-term interests of clients, professional consultants are enjoined by IAGP to establish agreements that will ensure the benefit of all in long-term period. In signing contracts, it is the long-term considerations that must be encouraged and indicated in the contract. Finally, consultants are expected to embody the strong key values and ethics in the code of conduct for their field and careful when working things out with their clients of any culture.


In sum, addressing what ethics and values means should go beyond their basic definitions to be feasible and flexible when applied in the organization development field. When values are embedded in the workplace and culture, the organization can expect a sound and ethical organization to emerge. In addition, ethics founded on appropriate company values allow for better work environme...

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