This book is an invitation to academic administrators, at every level, to engage in reflection on the ethical dimensions of their working lives. Academics are very good at reflecting on the ethical issues in other professions but not so interested in reflecting on those in their own, including those faced by faculty and administrators. Yet it is a topic of great importance. Academic institutions are value-driven; hence virtually every decision made by an academic administrator has an ethical component with implications for students, faculty, the institution, and the broader community. Despite this, they receive little systematic preparation for this aspect of their professional lives when they take up administrative posts, especially when compared to, say, medical or legal training. Surprisingly little has been written about the ethical challenges that academic administrators are likely to face. Most of the literature relating to academic administration focuses on "leadership" and draws heavily on management and social science theory. The importance of focusing on ethical deliberation and decision-making often goes unrecognized.
In commerce, many moral failures are due to narrow mindsets that preclude taking into account the moral dimensions of a decision or action. In turn, sometimes these mindsets are caused by failing to question managerial decisions from a moral point of view, because of a perceived authority of management. In the 1960s, Stanley Milgram conducted controversial experiments to investigate just how far obedience to an authority figure could subvert his subjects' moral beliefs. In this thought-provoking work, the authors examine the prevalence of narrow mental models and the phenomenon of obedience to an authority to analyse and understand the challenges which business professionals encounter in making ethical decisions. Obstacles to Ethical Decision-Making proposes processes - including collaborative input and critique - by which individuals may reduce or overcome these challenges. It provides decision-makers at all levels in an organisation with the means to place ethical considerations at the heart of managerial decision-making.
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