Integrity And Ethics What Is Integrity Philosophy Essay
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Integrity, in the sense of a steadfast commitment to ones principles, is inherently valuable and a defining quality of ones identity Schlenker, 2008. As Becker (1998) noted, integrity has been explored in empirical research as a predictor of job performance, as a central trait of effective leaders, and as a determinant of trust in organizations.
The word ‘integrity’ comes from Latin word ‘integer’, which means wholeness. This wholeness can be described as internal consistency, combining beliefs, words, and actions. Consistency is often related to a situation with external pressure to revise opinion or action. In many situations, there is strong pressure from authorities, colleagues, or common opinion to agree with a rival recommendation or at least to accept it without objections. The external pressure is not necessarily negative; it might be a temptation, a positive opportunity but one implying abandonment of important personal beliefs. Integrity is manifested by expressing and following a personal position rather than adjusting and conforming to external demands. Srivastava and Barrett (1989, p. 32) state that “The ‘wholeness’ that the word integrity refers to is the wholeness of the relationship, the wholeness of the interaction”.
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The American Heritage Dictionary (2000) gives the first meaning of integrity as the “steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code”, while other meanings emphasize that it reflects being whole or undivided. Integrity involves honesty, trustworthiness, fidelity in keeping one’s word and obligations, and incorruptibility, or an unwillingness to violate principled of the temptations, costs, and preferences of others. When people endorse principled conduct and describe themselves as steadfastly adhering to principles, they are asserting high integrity.
Solomon (1999, p. 40) defines integrity as relational “‘Wholeness’ means that one’s identity is not that of an isolated atom but rather the product of a larger social molecule, and that wholeness includes-rather than excludes-other people and one’s social role”. In Solomon’s view, integrity incorporates a balance between institutional loyalty and moral autonomy and is associated with moral humility. Although principles and policies are important, integrity “also involves a pervasive sense of social context and a sense of moral courage that means standing up for others as well as oneself” (Solomon, 1992, p. 174). Solomon did not reduce integrity to a single dimension whether it is rational self-interest or self-sacrifice. He classified integrity as a super virtue or complex of virtues, demonstrated in thought and deed. By virtue, Solomon meant a revealed disposition to act in certain morally appropriate ways. He found integrity to be inextricably social and even to contain a measure of altruism (doing for others at some personal cost) (Solomon, 1992, p. 168, 174).
Carson (1995) noted that honesty and integrity are linked in traditional definitions of the latter but submits that they are by no means synonymous. He argued that “an unwavering commitment to acting for the benefit of others, standing up for those who are under attack, loyalty to people to whom we have committed ourselves, acting honorably, and so on” would earn the designation of integrity (Carson, 1995, p. 215). Yet none of these is necessarily a function of honesty or truth. DeGeorge (1993) agreed that integrity requires something beyond a self-interested consistency. He explained, “Although integrity requires norms to be self-imposed and self-accepted, they cannot be entirely arbitrary and self-serving” (DeGeorge, 1993, p. 6). Thus, integrity implies a realm of autonomous action guided by a moral minimum of responsibility to others.
Palanski and Yammarino (2007) have shown that there is a great deal of misunderstanding and difference surrounding the meaning of word integrity. They showed that integrity has been used in management, applied psychology, and business ethics literature to mean many things, including wholeness, authenticity, consistency in adversity, consistency between words and actions, and moral or ethical behavior. They proposed that integrity should be considered as a virtue within the framework of moral philosophy as a way to resolve this misunderstanding and difference of opinion. Based on this framework, they suggested that integrity should be defined as ”the consistency of an acting entity’s words and actions” (Palanski & Yammarino, 2007, p. 178). In addition, Palanski and Yammarino (2009) have developed a multi-level theory of integrity which, among other things, explicitly considers the integrity of teams. Palanski and Yammarino’s (2007, 2009) definition of integrity is very similar to Simons (2002) definition of behavioral integrity, the ”perceived pattern of alignment between an actor’s words and deeds”. Integrity is seen to be something far more than a simple agreement or correlation (Gutmann, 1945). To achieve integrity means first and foremost the adjustment of the innumerable elements which themselves compose our character.
1.1 What is Ethics?
Ethics is a theory of moral knowledge which concerns itself with ethical language and its uses and conventions (Almond, 1999) and the study of moral principles and the reasons that govern our moral choices and decision that we make (Zamor, 2006). Ethics, ethical, and moral are sometimes used interchangeably due to the semantics of the words. Ethics derives meaning from the ancient Greek word etho which originally meant “dwelling together”, “to be used to something”. The ancient Greek word ethos, also derived from etho meant ‘custom’ or moral in Latin, which explains why the words are used as synonyms (Zamor, 2006).
Ethics is all about making the right decisions. Ethics is concerned about how decisions we have made affect everything and other people interest. An individual cannot make the right decisions without understanding management in particular as well as ethics in general (Hooker, 2003). Besides that, Velasquez (2002) also de¬ned ethics is the study of human conduct in terms of what is right or wrong, things that worth to do and what should not be done. Primarily, the element that may help to assure make morally good decisions is concerned with the question of what should count as morally good behavior, of what is the good life, and providing the justi¬cation of rules (Liszka, 1999).
Robert and James (1998) claim that ethics defined as a set of moral principles or values. It distinguishes between what is good and bad; determines moral duty and obligations and establishes principles of conduct for an individual and a professional group. Besides that, ethics is derived from the premise that there is a responsibility to protect the safety, health and welfare of the public. Organizations composed of professional members follow that same premise with established canons of ethics to govern their membership (Robert & James, 1998).
Czimbal and Brooks (1999) defined ethics is an external system of rules and laws. Usually there are rewards when we follow the rules and punishments when we break them. A professional board or committee often monitors compliance. Many organizations have developed a code of ethics that employees are expected to obey.
2.0 Organization Integrity
The extent to which the employees can influence his or her job is affected not only by prevailing ideas of ethics but also by those of organizing. A person with ambitions of integrity wants a larger role than just being an integrated cog in the organizational machine. The integrity perspective will inquire whether the company can stimulate employees to do more for the company by putting more heart and mind into the tasks, by giving them more space for individual judgment (Tullberg, 1999).
During the past decade, a number of companies have undertaken integrity initiatives. They vary according to the ethical values focused on and the implementation approaches used. Some companies focus on the core values of integrity that reflect basic obligations, such as respect for the rights of others, honesty, fair dealing, and obedience to the law. Other companies emphasize aspirations values that are ethically desirable but not necessarily morally obligatory such as good service to customers, a commitment to diversity, and involvement in the community (Paine, 2001). In each care, management has found that the initiative has made important and often unexpected contributions to competitiveness, work environment, and key relationships on which the company depends.
There is some confusion about the company position. A general conclusion is that companies overvalue the differentiation of the company culture from the national culture. Different companies from a given country share many characteristics (Hofstede 1991; Zander 1997). Still, further organizational differentiation seems to be an advantage if employees have a choice between different subcultures so that they can choose something in line with their own personalities. Differences between companies caused by self-selection by employees cause few conflicts with integrity. For example, when companies try to foster ideas and behavior with a top-down process, there are more severe problems. Still, such cultural revolutions are less problematic than if ordered by the state since individuals can disengage at a lower cost from an organization while a change of society might not be a viable possibility at all. The less sanctioning power an institution has, the more it can proclaim demands with limited harm for its members since they have an exit possibility.
Many companies are rushing to implement compliance-based ethics programs. Designed by corporate counsel, the goal of these programs is to prevent, detect, and punish legal violations. But organizational ethics means more than avoiding illegal practice and providing employees with a rule book will do little to address the problems underlying unlawful conduct. An integrity-based approach to ethic management combines a concern for the law with an emphasis on managerial responsibility for ethical behavior (Paine, 2001). From the perspective of integrity, the task of ethics management is to define and give life to an organization’s guiding values, to create an environment that supports ethically sound behavior, ad to instill a sense of shared accountability among employees. An integrity strategy is characterized by a conception of ethics as a driving force of an enterprise. Ethical values shape the search for opportunities, the design of organizational system, and the decision-making process used by individuals and groups. They provide a common frame of reference and serve as a unifying force across different functions, lines of business, and employees groups (Paine, 2001).
A religious sect can order what, when, and how it believers should live in a way that would be intrusive to integrity if ordered by the state or a company. It seems feasible that companies should have a mandate to choose their own sets of values, and that heterogeneity itself implies a positive value. Some companies will focus on high quality, others on low prices; some favor tailor-made solutions, others “one size fits all.” Similarly, some will have a military-style hierarchy, others self-ruling groups, and yet others delegation of personal responsibility. Franchise companies can be seen as experiments in combining incentives and some independence for the franchisee, with uniformity that corresponds to expectations from customers. The company has a moral zone that it might claim, demanding integrity for itself while sufficiently respecting that of the employees (Tullberg, 1999).
2.1 Individual Integrity
The integrity of individuals describes the space within which persons realize their identity in their fundamental roles as members of specific moral communities and traditions, as legal subjects, and as citizens in a specific political community. Individual integrity is encouraged and rewarded in all societies because of its importance to social commerce (Schlenker, 2001). At the individual level, integrity is more than ethics; it is all about the character of the individual. It is those characteristics of an individual that are consistently considerate, compassionate, transparent, honest, and ethical. For any group to function effectively, its members must be able to count on one another to be honest, to keep their promises and do what they say they will do, to be the type of people they claim to be, and to follow their group’s prescriptions for social well-being (Schlenker, 2001).
Figure 1: Turknett Leadership Character Model
In the Turknett Leadership Character Model, developed by psychologist Dr. Robert Turknett, integrity is the foundation of the model, and without integrity, no leader can be successful. The Turknett Leadership Group notes that individuals of integrity will not twist facts for personal advantage; they are willing to stand up for and defend what is right; they will be careful to keep promises; and they can be counted on to tell the truth (Turknett, 2005). In this model, integrity is the foundation of leadership and it involves a careful balance between respect and responsibility. When there is respect in an organization, everyone feels a sense of fairness and equality.
The individual integrity of each individual is the foundation for successful and safe performance (Krogh, 2007). According to Ayn Rand (1998) integrity is one’s adherence to his convictions. It is an uncompromising loyalty to one’s judgment, his opinions, and his values. A person of integrity is willing to bear the consequences of his convictions, even when this is difficult, that is, when the consequences are unpleasant (McFall, 1987). Quigley (2007, p. 9) states: “Simply put, those who bend rules are not considered trustworthy, and without trust an individual’s value is severely diminished. Without trust and confidence, markets do not function, and value is destroyed”. Quigley goes on to note the critical importance of integrity and character in the workplace. Lacking trust, competencies are meaningless. Individuals who are not trustworthy will not be given opportunities or responsibilities, and they will not be wanted as team members by clients or other employees (Quigley, 2007).
Integrity is a moral dimension that incorporates several of these qualities. Without these qualities, relationships become unpredictable and dangerously threatening to the welfare of the group. Those who have a reputation for integrity are treated as reliable, valuable members of the group (Schlenker, 2001). Krebs and Denton (2005) propose that moral principles function to uphold mutually beneficial systems of social cooperation. In the present theory, integrity similarly functions to channel activities in social valued directions. Like what Thomas (1982) said, “Integrity is an achievement, not a gift”.
Personal integrity has its concrete definition and its driving motivation. Its achievement, in matters of conduct, carries with it a peculiar problem. Integrity, therefore, is an inclusive virtue. Anyone who develops it does so by decision and by choice. If individual integrity is a moral virtue, then it is a special sort of virtue. One cannot be solely concerned with one’s own integrity, or there would be no object for one’s concern. Thus integrity seems to be a higher-order virtue (McFall, 1987).
2.2 Professional Integrity
Professional integrity is a sub-category of individual integrity and very much a matter of the extent to which a person displays personal integrity in professional life. According to Calhoun (1995) professional integrity entails doctors being committed to sets of professional ideals or principles, which may go beyond extant professional norms. Professional organizations are normatively complex. They will embody a diverse and at times conflicting range of values and principles. This will be due both to a process of historical accretion, as the organization is developed and reformed over time, and from the different interpretations of the organization and its associated professions that are brought to it by its staff. Code of conduct usually relate to professional integrity as they lay down the basic foundation. Code of conduct underlining theme and serve as a basis for developing own professional integrity. To be able to act with professional integrity, one must understand the nature of a dilemma. Williams (1973), speaking about integrity generally, refers to ‘identity-conferring commitments’ adhered to over the course of a life.
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The term ‘professional integrity’ is often used to refer to conduct in carrying out a work role that is in accordance with commonly accepted general principles of the profession and the specific codes or guidance produced by professional bodies. Professional integrity can be described as a process of continuous reflexive sense-making (Cox, 2003), which may even involve reevaluating and giving up previously held ideals and principles (Walker, 2007). While lawyers and politicians represent extreme cases of apparent compromise of personal beliefs and values, no individual professional can simply do whatever they wish by their own lights and beliefs. There are clear role obligations to employers, clients, and professional groups with whom they are legitimately engaged. However, wherever beliefs and values vary from those of the individual, there is bound to be some kind of compromise, and how this compromise is worked out and enacted can be seen as the business of manifesting integrity. Thus professional integrity might not necessarily be the most clearly manifested in the person with the strongest conscience or the most strongly held set of values that brook no compromise. Professional integrity is greater if it not just following the demands of the profession, but doing so in such a way that will not diminish others’ live (Cox, 2001).
Cox (2003) has characterized this as ‘professionalism’ rather than ‘professional integrity’ in so far as it amounts to “pursuing the extant demands of the profession”. It is relative to the duties and obligations defined by the specific professional context within which it has to be acquired as well as by the characterization of the kinds of challenges and hazards encountered in the relevant fields of action. If they are indeed genuine types of integrity that deserve our praise, they too will have to be anchored in the basic integrity of persons as moral subjects. Even if they could be placed on a continuum ranging from mere forms of etiquette (Godlovitch, 1993) to specifically moral characteristics of individual behavior relevant to the professional context, all such types would have to find their standard in the moral recognition of persons if they at all deserve to be called forms of integrity.
While differences in professional integrity suggest that the display of integrity “in one profession need not carry over to other professions” those differences are not that fundamental as to preclude “a common currency with what it is to act with integrity in another context” (Cox, 2001, p. 63). In 2005 a group of research-intensive universities in the UK launched a code of practice for ‘research integrity’, covering matters such as intellectual property rights, plagiarism and falsification of research results. This code was said to be designed “to prove their professionalism” (Davis, 2005).
2.3 Behavioral Integrity
Behavioral integrity is different from the construct of integrity. Simons (1999, p. 19) defines behavioral integrity as “The perceived pattern of alignment between a target’s words and actions – how well that target tends to keep promises and tends to demonstrate espoused values”. It is a judgment on the strength and reliability of the other’s word, and it is a trait ascribed to the target. The construct for behavioral integrity is based on trust, credibility, and psychological contracts (Davis & Rothstein, 2006; Simons, 1999).
Simons (2002) argued that behavioral integrity differs from common conceptualizations of trust, as trust typically includes affective components (Kramer, 1996) and other judgments such as benevolence (Cummings & Bromiley, 1996) and behavioral intentions (Mayer, Davis & Schoorman, 1995). Simons (2002) describes behavioral integrity as a perceived pattern of alignment between words and deeds. In order for individuals to formulate perceptions, the actual words and deeds of others must be made salient. Interpersonal justice (Bies & Moag, 1986; Greenberg, 1990) may include behavioral integrity but also includes additional judgments of interpersonal sensitivity, courtesy, and respect. Behavioral integrity is a central antecedent to both trust and justice perceptions. The ‘promise-keeping’ component of behavioral integrity evokes psychological contracts (Rousseau & McLean Parks, 1993).
Behavioral integrity or its lack can be ascribed to a person, a group or a company. Unlike common-usage notions of integrity or trustworthiness, behavioral integrity does not consider the benevolence, the moral content or the observer’s acceptance of the target’s espoused values. Behavioral integrity at the individual level has been linked theoretically to organizational citizenship behaviors and willingness to accept change (Simons, 2007) and has been shown both to directly affect and to moderate the effect of supervisory guidance on employee conduct (Dineen, 2006). Behavioral integrity of individual leaders has also been linked to increased follower trust, both theoretically and empirically (Simons, 2002).
Simons (2000) found that behavioral integrity was associated with trust in managers and organizational commitment, which in turn were associated with employee retention, customer service, and company profitability. Employees develop a level of trust based on the congruence between what a manager says and what he or she does. Davis and Rothstein (2006) pointed out that trust is important and considered a major component in the employment relationship. When leaders do not follow-up on the values they espouse, employees receive ambiguous messages about how the leader values specific behaviors in comparison to other pressing role demands. In support of this claim, Dineen, Lewicki, and Tomlinson (2006) found that supervisory guidance had a positive relationship with organizational citizenship behaviors when behavioral integrity was high and a positive relationship with deviant behavior when behavioral integrity was low.
Behavioral integrity as a distinct construct has been shown to have important consequences, both as a main effect and as a moderator of the impact of supervisory guidance on employee conduct (Dineen, Lewicki & Tomlinson, 2006). Most theory about behavioral integrity focuses on the individual level of analysis, thus Palanski and Yammarino (2009) distinguished between the integrity of individual team members and the integrity of the overall group (team). They described the integrity of the group as the integrity of an acting entity; in other words, although group-level integrity may emerge from the individual integrity of the team members, group-level integrity refers to the integrity of the team as a separate, autonomous entity which is irreducible to the individual level of analysis.
2.4 Integrity as Moral Purpose
One way of thinking about integrity places moral constraints upon the kinds of commitment to which a person of integrity must remain true. There are several ways of doing this. Elizabeth Ashford argues for a virtue she calls ‘objective integrity’. Objective integrity requires that agents have a sure grasp of their real moral obligations (Ashford, 2000). A person of integrity cannot, therefore, be morally mistaken. Understood in this way, one only properly ascribes integrity to a person with whom one finds oneself completely in moral agreement. This concept of integrity does not, however, closely match ordinary use of the term. The point of attributing integrity to another is not to signal unambiguous moral agreement.
Halfon (1989) offers a different way of defining integrity in terms of moral purpose. Halfon describes integrity in terms of a person’s dedication to the pursuit of a moral life and their intellectual responsibility in seeking to understand the demands of such a life. He writes that persons of integrity: “embrace a moral point of view that urges them to be conceptually clear, logically consistent, apprised of relevant empirical evidence, and careful about acknowledging as well as weighing relevant moral considerations. Persons of integrity impose these restrictions on themselves since they are concerned, not simply with taking any moral position, but with pursuing a commitment to do what is best.”
However, McFall (1987) points out that integrity requires that one hold principles or commitments that a reasonable person might take to be of great importance. It is hard to see how a reasonable person could take the importance of books to be sufficiently great to justify murder. Where McFall talks of judgments of importance, it is natural to interpret her as referring to judgments of value. But if this is so, her distinction between personal and moral integrity appears to collapse. Halfon’s view allows that integrity is not necessarily ‘objective’, as Ashford claims that. Both see integrity as centrally concerned with deliberation about how to live. Halfon conceives this task in more narrowly moral terms and ties integrity to personal intellectual virtues exercised in pursuit of a morally good life.
Personal integrity applied to an unambiguously moral predicament just is moral integrity. The distinction between personal and moral integrity, it seems, is better drawn in terms of the kinds of commitments or kinds of activity that are in frame. Personal integrity would then refer to non-moral aspects of a person’s life; moral integrity would refer to aspects of a person’s life that have clear moral significance. It is unclear, however, whether this way of distinguishing between personal and moral integrity captures ordinary use of the term ‘personal integrity’. ‘Personal integrity’ appears to be a term used more or less synonymously with ‘integrity’. Nonetheless, distinctions between moral integrity, non-moral integrity, and overall integrity, for instance integrity as a general cast of character, do seem well motivated and relatively clear (McFall, 1987).
Halfon (1989) speaks of a person confronting ‘all relevant moral considerations’, but this turns out to be quite a formal constraint. On Halfon’s view, depends upon the moral point of view of the agent counts as a relevant moral consideration. Persons of integrity may thus be responsible for acts others would regard as grossly immoral. The important is that they act with moral purpose and display intellectual integrity in moral deliberation. This leads Halfon to admit that, on his conception of integrity, it is possible for a Nazi bent on genocide of the entire Jewish people to be a person of moral integrity. Halfon thinks it possible, but not at all likely.
Defining the overall integrity of character in terms of moral purpose has the advantage of capturing intuitions of the moral seriousness of questions of integrity. However, the approach appears too narrow. Halfon’s identification of integrity and moral integrity appears to leave out important personal aspects of integrity, aspects better captured by the other views of integrity that have examined. Integrity does not seem to be exclusively a matter of how people approach plainly moral concerns. Other matters like love, friendship and personal projects appear highly relevant to judgments of integrity (Halfon, 1989).
2.5 The Relationship between Integrity and Moral Theory
Despite the fact that it is somewhat troublesome, the concept of integrity has played an important role in contemporary discussion of moral theory. Carter (1996) developed an excellent working definition of integrity that seems to provide a theoretical foundation for a defined construct of moral integrity. Even with Carter’s definition of integrity, moral integrity is a very complex construct to define and may represent as coherence between the philosophical components of moral discernment, consistent behavior, and public justification. Moral integrity is affectively experienced as a sense of wholeness and balance in the individual who is aware of his moral convictions, is consistent in his behavior, and is unashamed to share his convictions.
In addition to understanding integrity in its own right, philosophers have been very interested in the implications of integrity for the reasonability of first-order normative theories. The main source of this interest is Bernard William’s integrity objection to act-utilitarianism. At the deliberative level, an agent who is a self-conscious utilitarian must tailor his decisions, not only to what promotes his own utility, but also to “all the satisfactions which he can affect from where he is: and this means that the projects of others, to an indeterminately great extent, determine his decision” (Williams, 1973).
An important and influential line of argument, first developed by Bernard Williams, seeks to show that certain moral theories do not sufficiently respect the integrity of moral agents (Williams, 1973 & 1981). This has become an important avenue of critique of modern moral theory (Scheffler, 1993). Modern moral theories, the most representative of which are utilitarianism and Kantian moral theory, do not concern themselves directly with virtue and character. Instead, they are primarily concerned to describe morally correct action. Theories of morally correct action generally aspire to develop criteria by which to categorize actions as morally obligatory, morally permissible, or morally impermissible. Some theories of morally correct action also introduce the category of the supererogatory. An action is supererogatory if and only if it is morally praiseworthy, but not obligatory. The two theories of primary concern to Williams are utilitarianism and Kantian moral theory, and both of these are usually interpreted as eschewing the category of the supererogatory (Baron 1995). Williams maintains that both utilitarianism and Kantian moral theory are deeply unbelievable because of their integrity undermining effects. His argument against utilitarianism makes the more transparent appeal to the concept of integrity (Herman, 1983).
According to Williams (1973) an agent who adopted this version of utilitarianism would find themselves unable to live with integrity. As he puts it, to become genuinely committed to act-utilitarianism is for a person to become alienated in a real sense from his actions and the source of his actions in his own convictions. It is to make him into a channel between the input of everyone’s projects, including his own, and a decision; but this is to neglect the extent to which his actions and his decisions have to be seen as the actions and decisions which flow from the projects and attitudes with which he is most closely identified. It is thus, in the most literal sense, an attack on his integrity (Williams, 1973).
Furthermore, if without integrity, abandoning or ignoring a longstanding, identity-conferring commitment to pacifism simply because maximum general well-being is to be found elsewhere. In general, Williams concludes, identity-conferring commitments cannot play the kind of role in act-utilitarian moral deliberation that is required for an agent to act with integrity. That is for an agent to act with genuine conviction in matters of grave, identity-determining importance to them. Act-utilitarianism, if self-consciously implemented, can attack agent’s integrity because it prescribes impartial moral requirements which will, in certain cases, conflict with an agent’s identity-conferring commitments, such as his job, personal activities, education, or family (Ashford
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