Moral Behaviour in Organizations: The Contribution of Management Education and Development

AuthorPatrick Maclagan
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8551.1990.tb00152.x
Publication Date01 Apr 1990
British
Journal
of
Management,
Vd.
I,
17-26
(1990)
Moral Behaviour
in
Organizations: The
Contribution
of
Management Education and
Development
Patrick Maclagan
School
of
Management, University
of
Hull
SUMMARY
The concurrent growth of interest in management competencies and management devel-
opment and in business ethics, exposes
a
need to bring these two fields together. The
moral dimension to organizational behaviour should be considered when management
education and development programmes are being designed. Those concerned with ethics
in business and management should look beyond approaches based on codes of conduct
and traditional educational methods. In this paper the idea of management competence
is conceptualized broadly, with insight drawn from sources in education and social
psychology. It is argued that ideas derived from Kohlberg’s work on moral development
can provide the basis for management development programmes in which theoretical
understanding of ethical theory and moral issues is augmented by commitment to per-
sonal principles, a well integrated sense of personal identity, and relevant interpersonal
skills, acquired through experiential learning.
Some Background Trends and Issues
This paper is set in the context of two contemporary
UK
developments. First of all there is the Manage-
ment Charter Initiative and the associated enthu-
siasm for identifying management ‘competencies’
and ways of enhancing these through education,
training and development programmes
so
as to
‘professionalize’ management practice (FME/CBI/
BIM, 1987). Then there is the growing level of
activity in the field of business ethics, broadly
defined, in the USA, Europe and the
UK
(Macla-
gan and Sedgwick, 1989).
The convergence of these movements raises a
number of issues concerning the relationship
between management performance and ethics. Two
of these will be spelled out as a prelude to subse-
quent discussion. The first refers to the different
approaches to management education and to the
development of managerial competence adopted by
business ethics academics and by management
development practitioners respectively. At risk of
oversimplification, much business ethics teaching
is characterized by lecture-room presentations and
case studies, while contemporary management
development practice places relatively more
emphasis on learning based
on
participants’ own
experiences. It should be added that it is only very
recently that management development practi-
tioners have begun to show an explicit interest in
the ethical dimension
to
organizational behaviour.
The second issue relates to the currently fashion-
able interest in corporate codes of ethics, particu-
larly amongst managers and concerned business
people. Codes cannot replace individuals’ own
capacity for moral judgement and integrity. These
are
personal
qualities which contribute to
managers’ performance, and are acquired through
processes of moral learning and development
including the cultivation of interpersonal skills and
understanding through experience.
These
processes
seem to have received relatively
1045-3172/90/010017-10$05.00
0
1990
by
John
Wiley
&
Sons,
Ltd
Received
9
November
1989
Revised
6
January
1990

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