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Influence of Ethics on Decision Making

The influence of our coworkers and superiors along with our different values and beliefs has a huge impact on the way we as individuals make decisions. Some organizations encourage their employees to make ethical decisions while others promote immoral conduct. This paper examines the factors that influence ethical decision making and will also further discuss the impact that technology has as a stress inducer.

The Influence of Ethics on Decision Making
Many persons today assumed that individuals make difficult decisions within an organization, based on how he or she makes a decision in his or her family life. Social scientist have examined an individual’s decision-making abilities and have recognized that the pressures of organizational factors, individual factors and legal issues all influence the ethical decision making process. Most definitions define ethics as what is right or wrong. Ethical behavior means doing the right thing outside of the presence of others. Organizational ethics refers to employing integrity and honesty and using good values when making decisions. One difference between an ordinary decision and an ethical decision is the amount of emphasis placed on a person’s values when making an ethical decision. The mass media, interest groups and the legal system are the ‘judge’ who determines if a particular behavior is right or wrong. Whether these groups are true or false in their judgment, society accepts or rejects an organization based on these judgments. Consequently values and judgments play a crucial role in ethical decision-making, and society establish them through legislation and social sanctions.

A factor that determines a decision is based on how pertinent or important the case is, or the intensity of the issue. The importance of issues varies from time to time, and is influenced by one’s values and beliefs. Individuals and their values is one of the greatest challenges faced as it relates to organizational ethics. Individual factors are important in evaluating and resolving ethical issues. Conflicts between coworkers usually arise in the workplace and decisions that are made are based on their beliefs and moral philosophies. Ethical issues importance reflects an individual’s feelings, thereby activating the ethical decision-making process. Management can influence an ethical decision through rewards or punishments. Employees should train workers on how to handle ethical issues which is a step in developing the employees’ ability to make decisions which will also enhance organizational ethics.

Decisions within an organization are made by individuals who belong to a meeting group or a committee. These decisions are guided by the organization’s culture and norms and are influenced by co-workers or superiors. Although most organizations encourage ethical practices some organizations reinforce unethical behavior Organizational practices and beliefs often create pressures and incentives that may contribute to an employee making an unethical decision. When an employees’ job is on the line it is difficult to say ‘no’ to a powerful superior. For example, a supervisor may request that one falsify profit documents. Initially it began with only a small falsified profit margin, eventually the margins grows extensively until it is completely out of control. When a company gains most of its profits from unethical or illegal behavior new moral up-standing employees may have a difficult time surviving, unless they part take in these illegal activities as well.

Managers and coworkers help employees to deal or make decisions on unfamiliar tasks and provide background information on a daily basis. Employees in a group environment are subject to the ‘group think’ phenomenon and may go along with the group decision even if the decision differs from their values and beliefs. Some employees go along with their supervisors out of fear of offending, and may not question their directives in an organization that emphasizes respect for authority. Employees often feel obligated to follow their directives whether it is right or wrong. If the decision is questioned later the employees’ response is usually “I was following the bosses’ orders. Individuals also learn ethical or unethical behavior from persons they associate with. As a result decision makers who associate with unethical individuals usually behave and decide unethically as well.

An organization’s culture and its influential employees may promote an environment that minimizes or maximizes misconduct. When such conditions provide rewards or financial gains, recognition or promotion, the opportunity for unethical conduct may be encourage or discouraged. For example a company may not provide punishment for an employee who violates the rules, which provide the opportunity for unethical behavior.

In conclusion ethical decision-making do not solely depend on an individual’s value or belief. Employees do not work within a void; their decisions are based on the organization’s culture, the ethical climate, pressures of coworkers and supervisors and examples of peers and superiors. If rules and regulations are not in place to combat unethical conduct employees will be tempted to engage in such immoral activities. Organizations create its own ethical atmosphere and employees are significantly influence by this climate.

The Impact of Technology on Stress
On-the-job stress is a relatively new experience in modern day society People today now more than ever know what it means to experience work related stress. Over the years the work environment has gone through many changes and it continues to change. Changes have occurred from medical professionals to underwriting professionals from pilots to sales representatives. Challenges also continue to be the order for today’s workplace. For maximum performance to be achieved, challenge is almost imperative. Some employers have not yet realize that employees have only a limited mental and physical ability and may not always be able to handle the many challenges they face. As employees continue to apply pressure offering little support, employees experience work related stress. Moreover individuals are similar to machine they eventually break down or malfunction. Professional stress is a threat to one’s physical and mental health, and consequently affects the health of the organization. Work related stress is caused by a condition in the workplace that adversely affects an individual’s performance and sometimes affects one’s overall well-being. In some instances work stress is disabling, and chronic cases required psychiatric counseling.

There are numerous factors that contribute to professional stress. Some of the most common causes are:
Excessive Working Hours
Some employees can work excessively, but only for a short period. After a while the body gets exhausted and burnt out and eventually leads to devastating results both physically and mentally.
Work Under-load
Employees perform the same duties repetitiously and the tasks become boring and routine. This factor has also been identified as a stress contributor.
Job Insecurity
Many organizations today are now experiencing restructuring, merging and downsizing. Employees fear that their company’s reformation will result in job loss. This uncertainty leads to work related stress.

High Performance-Demand
Employers set unrealistic expectations especially during corporate reformation. Employees may be timid to admit or express to their superiors that these time constricts are not feasible, not wanting to be viewed as not being able to handle a particular job. As a result employees burn themselves out, which again leads to tremendous stress and suffering.

Workplace Culture
Adjusting to a new environment sometimes poses a great deal of stress. Adapting to a workplace dress code, communication pattern, chain of command, behavioral patterns of coworkers and superiors, at times can be a lesson in itself. Some adjustments may cause conflicts with superiors and colleagues. Workplace gossip is also another major stress arouser.

Personal Problems
Employees tend to carry their anxiety and family life to the workplace. The individual may find it difficult to focus well on his or her job and may lack the ability to carry out the require job functions.
The upgrade and expansion of computers, cell phones, fax machines and the internet has resulted in employers expecting high productivity, speed and efficiency. Employees are faced with sudden changes and sometimes limited or inadequate training. They are expected to perform well and become their own administration centers, with the computer system as the controller. Everyday interaction with coworkers is quickly subsiding and emails are replacing this channel of communication. As a result employee’s sense of well-being no longer exists and as anticipated this has a profound negative effect on one’s job performance.

Today’s organizations are now giving serious considerations to stress management and are ensuring that it becomes a part of the company’s culture and philosophy. Measures are being taken to raise awareness and prevent stress in the workplace. Work related stress is induced through many forms and technology is one of the leading causes. As the face of technology continues to rapidly change, employees will be pressured to develop their abilities, thus it is imperative that employees determine the skill of coping with work related stress.

Schermerhorn, J.R., Jr., Hunt, J.G., & Osborn, R.N. (2005). Organizational behavior (9th ed.). [University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-text]. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Retrieved June 11th, 2006, from University of Phoenix, Resource, and MGT331—Organizational Behavior Website.
Spiers, Carol (2002). Organizational Stress: A Management Perspective. Retrieved June 11, 2006 from