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ETHICAL DECISION MAKING IN DIFFICULT SITUATIONS
“Could a massive entity of fifty thousand, a hundred thousand, two hundred thousand people embody a lofty set of principles, while earning salaries for its workers and creating wealth for its stockholders?” (Terris, 2005) Today I will describe some of the unorthodox strategies covered by Terris during the 1950s that Lockheed used on the international scale. Then I will discuss my stance on a situation where if underhanded and back door deals are the way the game is played, if everybody is on the same playing field, and if that makes it unethical to compete. Followed by, why the Defense Industry Initiative (DII) was so important to the eventual success of Lockheed Martin’s ethics program. Lastly I will discuss Norman Augustine’s and Dilbert’s contribution in helping Lockheed Martin turn the corner with its ethics program. Let’s get started.
Some of the unorthodox ways that Lockheed and their competitors made deals with other countries around the world during this era on the private sector are ways that today would be illegal. In the Netherlands, Lockheed developed a friendship and services of Prince Bernhardt who accepted payments through a wide variety of middlemen. In Japan, Lockheed worked with a secret agent named Yoshio Kadama. Yoshio was a hardline nationalist and underworld figure who had been imprisoned by the Americans for war crimes, but who emerged in the 1950s and 1960s as a close associate of the prime minister. In Indonesia, Lockheed made substantial contributions to a “Widows and Orphans Fund” that had close ties to the higher-ups in the Indonesian Air Force. All of these shady deals that Lockheed made during this era are the reason why Lockheed was the staple for major motivation for new legislature. Even though Lockheed was not the only company doing these kind of deals, something had to be done in order to put a stop to the laundering of money around the world.
This is the way that Lockheed and many other competitors during post-World War eras operated. Honestly I believe that at the time that all of these “backdoor” deals were happening that it was ethical. I say this because the company would have become bankrupt, it turn laying off thousands of people, and they did these deals to stay afloat. If all of their competitors are doing the same deals during a time where it was perfectly legal to do so then I believe they were doing so for the best interest of the company as a whole. Even though these kind of deals are frowned upon in the United States, in the rest of the world these practices were still acceptable. These practices are the reason for the United States to establish the Defense Industry Initiative on Business Ethics and Conduct.
Thirty-two of the biggest contractors in America promised to develop and adhere to codes of ethics, to train employees in these codes, to encourage internal reporting of ethical violations, to implement systems to monitor compliance with the codes, to share best practices with their competitors, and to be held accountable to the public. This was the birth of the Defense Industry Initiative on Business Ethics and Conduct. Lockheed already had a code of ethics within its company but ever since the Defense Industry Initiative their program took to new heights. With these companies meeting every year to better one another, “Lockheed began to formalize its ethics program and to insert the language of ethics into its corporate culture.” (Terris, 2005) A compliance department developed regulations and checklists that charged supervisors and trainers with delivering lectures to employee teams. These trainings made sure certain mandatory points would be covered. The ethics program proceeded on the assumption that repeating the mantra of legal compliance and integrity would minimize risk of misbehavior and would insure the company if anyone were caught. The programs made the “bad apple” defense more believable. If the company informed employees about the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior then any misdeeds would become a matter of individual wrongdoing rather than corporate malfeasance. This was the way the Lockheed instilled their ethnics program throughout the entire workforce of their company. It wasn’t until Norman Augustine took the reins that the program shot for the stars.
Norman believed very highly in the idea of personal integrity. “He liked to quote a definition that he attributed to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart: ‘Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what the right thing is to do.’” (Terris, 2005) He had a weak spot for the illustrative anecdote. Augustine recognized that there was a problem with Lockheed Martin’s ethics program: It was boring in the eye of the employee. That’s when he put Carol Marshall in charge of finding something that will win the hearts of the workers to be in favor of their ethics program. Coral got in touch with Steve Cohen, the owner to the rights of the Dilbert comic strips. Steve Cohen had little exposure to corporate ethics but it did not take him long to say yes to a $20-billion corporation. Fortunately for Cohen Gebler, Norm Augustine loved the idea of bringing on the Dilbert comic strips. Even though some of his senior team leaders were against the idea of using the comic strip, Augustine gave the order for the development of a full-fledged ethics awareness program with Dilbert at its center. “It was clear to Augustine that the edge of Dilbert was an ideal vehicle with which to meet the cynicism that they could expect from employees about a corporate ethics program. It played on the natural mix of admiration and ambivalence that Americans brought to the structure and rituals of corporate life.” (Terris, 2005)
Today I described some of the unorthodox strategies that Lockheed used during the 1950s on the international scale. Followed by my stance on where if underhanded and back door deals are the way the game is played, if everybody is on the same playing field, and if that makes it unethical to compete. Which led me to, why the Defense Industry Initiative (DII) was so important to the eventual success of Lockheed Martin’s ethics program. Lastly I discussed Norman Augustine’s and Dilbert’s contribution in helping Lockheed Martin turn the corner with its ethics program.
- Terris, D. (2005). Ethics at Work: Creating Virtue at an American Corporation. Waltham, MAssachusetts: Brandies.
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