BUSM4403 – Ethics and Governance Asm 1(2)

Monahan, S. C., & Quinn, B. A. (2006); ‘Beyond ‘bad apples’ and ‘weak leaders’ Toward a neo-institutional explanation of organizational deviance’, Theoretical Criminology, 10(3), 361-385

Critical Analysis Column (student’s own analysis) Direct Illustrative Quotations (Not included towards word count)
The mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib jail is discussed in this piece, as is the manipulation of architectural internship reports in order to establish a neo-institutional theory of deviance within companies. This discusses how conflicted institutional conditions lead to deviant behavior and how organizational and individual reactions are linked. Deviance is said to occur when an organization’s structure is separated from its actions. Deviance is frequently attributed to a single person rather than the majority; the individual can be classified as a bad apple, a following of orders, or a failed leader. It took more than a person’s self-perception, but also the conditions of the environment in a given context, to control ethical behavior for all levels of humans, from low-level to leader. The manager’s or leader’s position is highlighted in an organizational setting. Leaders must set clear standards demonstrating their expectations, such as honesty, fairness, and respect, to inform employees about the company’s and managers’ priorities, which are more important than profit. However, because of its participation and the instances of underground practices, it is deeply ingrained in the organizational structure. In both circumstances, the organization provided symbolic rather than technical roles, such as controlling and again poorly communicated behaviors, procedures, and regulations, and pressure from a competitive environment would contribute to greater organizational deviance (Jackall 1988). In the meantime, decoupling is a mechanism for coping with complicated and contradictory institutional systems, yet it also promotes deviance. The decoupling technique encourages organizational deviance by removing the desire for organizational effectiveness.  Deviance within organizations is often framed as a product of individual choices or behaviors, especially in mainstream discourse and in the popular press. For example, in the case of the Abu Ghraib prison abuses, three primary explanatory models have competed for ascendancy: (1) rogue individuals from the US Military Police unit engaged in bad behavior (i.e. the ‘bad apple’ explanation); (2) somewhere up the chain of command individual officers gave orders that ultimately led to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners (i.e. the ‘following orders’ explanation); or (3) abuses were the product of failed leadership by specific persons who did not clearly communicate norms or adequately monitor and supervise underlings (i.e. the ‘failed leadership’ explanation).

(Monahan & Quinn, 2006, p361, para 1)

The paragraph briefly mentioned the concerns of organization’s deviance in the light of neo-institutional theory. According to the authors (Monahan & Quinn 2006), the organization has a key role in the development and support of deviant behavior. To have a closer look at the paragraph, the case of Abu Ghraib Prison will be examined. In the ‘decoupling’ strategy utilized in an organization, as for the case of Abu Ghraib, the authors suggest that the unclear command and specific institutional arrangements are to blame for the crimes there. An ambiguous chain of command, regulations, and activities in custody were used to achieve flexibility at lower levels, which led to the commission of prison infractions. Organizations enjoy decoupling, there is little control, and high-ranking authorities are indifferent in this circumstance. Occupational deviance, according to neo-institutional theory, is the result of decoupling and formal structure. This highlighted the impact of corporate management on individual behaviors, as well as the consequences of those behaviors on others. As a result, this approach ignores challenges in distinguishing white-collar crime from other crimes, such as the Abu Ghraib jail instance. We explore how organizational structure mediates between the larger rule environment and organizational participants, and how particular structural arrangements arrived at by the conscious choices of managers, executives and leaders facilitate flexible, and sometimes deviant, responses by organizational participants to conflicted institutional environments. In such structures, rule-breaking behavior is to be expected. By explicitly linking macro-level rule environments, organizational structure and participant behavior, we challenge explanations for deviance in organizations that presume neutrality on the part of the organizational structure and those who design and implement that structure.

(Monahan & Quinn, 2006, p366, para 2)

Find other scholarly readings that support your definitions, e.g. that support your above findings. Jackall, R & Moral, M 1988, ‘Crimes of Obedience: Towards a Social Psychology of Authority and Responsibility’, New York: Oxford University Press. Kelman, Herbert C. and V. Lee Hamilton (1989) . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.


Hiekkataipale, M. and Lämsä, A.-M. (2017), ‘(A)moral agents in organisations? The

significance of ethical organisational culture for middle managers’ exercise of moral agency in ethical problems’, Journal of Business Ethics Vol. 155, No. 1, 147–161


Critical Analysis Column (student’s own analysis) Direct Illustrative Quotations (Not included towards word count)
Such assertion tries to show how the organization operates in terms of the environment as well as ethics. It has a significant impact on how leaders act themselves and the level of moral obligation they have when dealing with people. The remark is in line with normative theories, in which leaders are provided a set of moral principles to follow and are required to follow them to the letter (MacIntyre 1999). As a consequence, the Rule of Utilitarianism arises, in which a regulation is accepted if there is a significant net gain, even if moral judgement of the methods is omitted. When understanding business ethics, behavioural patterns are crucial to explore because they have an influence on the organization’s ethical standards. In order to govern an ethical behavior for all individuals’ level from low-level to manager, it required more than just a person’s self-perception but rather conditions of the environment in a certain context. In an organizational context, the role of the manager or leader is emphasized. Specifically, such a high role has great influence on organization as a whole as well as towards the subordinates beneath them.  ‘We argue in this study that the organisational environment, and in particular the ethical organisational culture, is significant in the exercise of the manager’s moral agency. In addition to moral agency theory (Bandura 1991), which explains how moral reasoning together with other psychosocial factors such as an individual’s self-concept or environmental circumstances govern ethical behaviour (Bandura 1991),’

(Hiekkataipale & Lamsa, 2017, p. 147, para 4)

According to the paragraph, bureaucratic and management systems impact and inhibit managers’ moral agency in the workplace by allowing unethical actions. Moreover, it states that managers should first assess their organizational environment before making judgments in line with Society’s demands. The paragraph claims that society has an effect on one’s behavior. As a result, humans develop moral notions and internalize standards of conduct based on their circumstances. In an organizational context, a company can direct its employees’ behavior by providing collective support and clear behavior regulations that adhere to the members’ moral standards. Moral agency and ethical organizational culture are highlighted as major drivers of people’s behavior in this paragraph. A strong ethical culture ensures that employees have access to resources such as clear expectations, support for ethical judgements, and practical conditions that facilitate ethical activity (Ferell & Gresham 1985). Because employees are constantly striving to improve the company’s perceived value in order to gain pleasure from upper management, informing them about the organization’s ethical value is the greatest method to urge them to do the right thing.

Moral agency states that one’s ability to self-regulate and comprehend other people’s behavior is required for virtue. Individual’s needs for unity and equality are taken into account by virtue ethics. Virtue ethics is concerned with social and family values, as the preceding demonstrates. As a result, businesses must be aware of the many environmental consequences and set ethical principles that support their external and internal environmental growth (L’Etang 1992). On the other hand, in order to determine if one’s actions are ethically wrong or right, one must consider whether they benefit society. The importance of the external environment in developing ethical norms is highlighted in the paragraph. Consequently, it backs the normative approach to ethics research, which holds that all members of society have worth and should be regarded in their actions. As a result, self-control is necessary to avoid unethical actions that could harm society or one’s local environment.

‘In the first place, social influences affect individuals’ self-regulatory competence. That means that individuals can generate perceptions about moral behaviour by observing the behaviour of others and by internalising the standards that they observe in action. Secondly, the organisational environment can provide collective support (e.g. supportive and positive feedback, clear guidelines and principles for the sort of behaviour that is expected), for an individual’s own moral standards. Thirdly, the organisational environment can facilitate the selective activation or disengagement of moral self-regulation (Bandura 1991). We argue here that combining the theory of moral agency and the theory of ethical organisational culture adds a more diverse theoretical viewpoint to the literature on the subject.’

(Hiekkataipale and Lamsa, 2019, p148, para 2)

Find other scholarly readings that support your definitions, e.g. that support your above findings. MacIntyre, A 1999, ‘Social Structures and Their Threats to Moral Agency. Philosophy’, 74(289), 311–329. Viewed at http://www.jstor.org/stable/3751839

L’Etang, J 1992, ‘A Kantian Approach to Codes of Ethics. Journal of Business Ethics’, 11(10), 737–744 viewed at http://www.jstor.org/stable/25072331

Ferrell, O.C. & Gresham, L.G. 1985, ‘A Contingency Framework for Understanding Ethical Decision Making in Marketing’. Journal of Marketing, 49(3), 87–96. Viewed at https://doi.org/10.2307/1251618


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