Social Identity

This chapter is probably at the core of what the author’s are most likely trying to accomplish with this book—educate us on how to make an ethical decision, and what some of the pitfalls, problems, and concerns are.I have a few issues with their explication.

In their discussion about why some decision makers have an inability to recognize ethical issues, they neglect the possibility that some humans are amoral—simply not concerned with moral judgments or issues.That is different from calling someone immoral.The authors engage in a brief description of normative myopia, inattentional blindness, and change blindness.

Do you recall in Principles of Management discussing (probably in the chapter on Diversity) the concepts of perception and bias? If we had that course together you (hopefully) recollect that Jones and George define bias as: “The systematic tendency to use information about others in ways that result in inaccurate perceptions.”Jones and George explored the “similar-to-me effect, the social status effect, and the salience effect”.Any adequate social psychology book would add to that list:

Illusory correlation

Ignoring covariation

Implicit stereotyping

Social identity

Symbolic values

Ambivalence amplification

Group goals

Media bias

Social roles

Question #1: Is any bias necessarily unethical?

Moving on…In addressing the third step of the decision making process, Hartman, et. al. briefly introduce the concept of stakeholders.Personally, I prefer the following definition of stakeholders: “Any constituency in the environment that is affected by an organization’s decisions and policies and that can influence the organization.”So, yes, the Spotted Owl, the Piping Plover, the Snail Darter can all be stakeholders.This can lead to problems in adopting a stakeholder view of the firm.“…in rejecting the maximization of long term owner value as the purpose of business, and requiring business instead simply to ‘balance’ the interests of all stakeholders, stakeholder theory discards the objective basis for evaluating business action (Sternberg 2000: 51) and the theory fails to be ‘illuminatingly action-guiding’ (Marcoux 2000).”(Hartman, 2014).

Question #2: How do we sanely incorporate the Stakeholder Theory of the Firm into our ethical decision making process?

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