Organizational Integrity — Understanding the Dimensions of Ethical and Unethical Behavior in Corporations
AbstractOrganizational integrity refers to the ethical integrity of the individual actors, the ethical quality of their interaction as well as that of the dominating norms, activities, decision making procedures and results within a given organization. This article discusses these manifold aspects of organizational integrity and outlines the main driving forces and dimensions of ethical and unethical behavior in corporations. Reflections on ethics in general start with the assumption that it has to do with human actors who do or omit something. It has to do with their motives and the product of their interrelated activities. Thus, the individual might be regarded as the main point of reference for analyzing organizational integrity. However, the ongoing formalization and institutionalization of the ethical dimension of management is based on a simple observation: Organizational integrity goes beyond managerial integrity and is more than the presence of individuals with good characters within the organization. Having “good” managers is certainly a precondition for organizational integrity, but it does not prevent organizations from obtaining bad ethical results. It is possible to take the bad apples out of the barrel but the risk of deviant organizational behavior will not be reduced to zero. The good apples might develop a bad taste and sometimes it might be a problem of the barrel itself.