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Business Ethics - using Ethics to improve our decision making on an organisational level

All human endeavours, regardless of scope or scale, are eternally plagued by the following question: ‘What do we do?’ Given the highly unpredictable series of events which have been unfolding recently, this question is getting more and more difficult to answer. With a global pandemic on our hands, and with all of the global changes that have come with it, we must expand our horizons in the decision making process and look for creative and alternative ways to find out what we ought to do, as organisations.

One way through which this can be achieved is to turn our attention towards already established methods for personal decision making, and adapt their scope in order to effectively apply them to the organisational level. Ethics, the branch of philosophy which deals with systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behaviour, contains exactly such methods. Ergo, we can use already established ethical theories commonly used for categorizing personal and individual behaviour and include them in the decision making process for whole organisations.

The philosophical and ethical theories which we believe can aid in the modern decision making process and lead to valuable insight are listed below. For each theory, we believe that its opposing theory is equally as valuable and important to look into, and so the theories are listed in opposing pairs.

Understanding the situation at hand

Before making the actual decisions, it is crucial to understand the situation in which our organisation finds itself and to plan accordingly. For this, the philosophical theory of Determinism is very insightful. According to Determinism, all events, including decisions people make, are predetermined by previously existing causes. Trying to identify these deterministic causes can be very insightful and can improve the decision making process greatly.

However, due to the scale on which some organisations operate, it is virtually impossible to account for the entirety of these causes. So, it is also valuable to look at opposing theories to determinism, such as the theory of Randomness which claims that not all events are determined by causes and that randomness plays a significant part in the way the world is.

Thinking about the future

Once we have managed to get a firm grasp and understanding over the situation our organisation finds itself into, we can start thinking about what we can do and to bring decisions. The ethical theories which can help in achieving this are Teleology and Deontology. Teleology states that judging whether an action needs to be taken should be done by considering the end result of that action. Deontology, on the other hand, states that actions are good or bad according to a clear set of predefined rules. Organisations always strive towards doing actions which serve their interests (the teleological side), but given their structural nature, organisations must also follow a set of rules and values on every level (the deontological side). Thus, by thinking in both ways and employing the principles of both of these theories, making decisions becomes a whole lot easier and more effective in terms of concrete results.

Virtuous Management

Taking all of this into consideration, we can see that organisations can be analysed analogously to individuals. Thus, we can employ Ethics even further and determine a set of moral principles and values which ought to be fully reflected in every member and part of the organisation, so that the organisation's goals could be seamlessly and synchronously achieved. We believe that every organisation needs a set of virtues to act as a lens through which the aforementioned theories can be better fitted to the particular goals of the organisation. We call this Virtuous Management.

That being said, we hope that this blog sparked your interest about these topics and that you can use the theories listed here to improve your decision making and the decision making and effectiveness of your organisation as a whole. In these turbulent times, we need to take all the help we can get.

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