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Rory
Post  Post subject: Institutional reputation and morality  |  Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2016 6:45 pm
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A number of considerations lead me to believe that one of the most morality-corrosive factors in business and economics today, is institutional reputation. Counterintuitively, perhaps, institutional reputation and marketing are leading to less institutional accountability in their relations with the individual employee/associate/client.The moment an individual represents even a remote threat to the institutional reputation, they are disposed of, without consideration. This can be seen with Tony Blackburn's treatment at the hands of the BBC. I saw it last December, when in the staff room at an "outstanding" sixth form college, teachers literally cheered when discovering that their struggling/failing students had either been forced to leave the course, or had quit. It can be seen at hospitals, where medical mistakes are covered up and figures fudged.

The institution, as an organism in its own right, becomes predator. Public interest is on the menu.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Institutional reputation and morality  |  Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2016 7:11 pm
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in essence, institutions derive their morality from the people who make up that institution
if people feel that they have to hide their shortcomings rather than be up-front about it, then surely that's due to people in charge who have put that sort of climate in place where shortcomings get punished rather than addressed and corrected

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Institutional reputation and morality  |  Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2016 8:22 pm
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Absolutely. It isn't the case that ALL of the employees of the institution are morally dubious, but that those who make the decisions at the highest level (senior managers) are flippant and set entirely the wrong moral tone. Basically they prioritise their own wellbeing, indirectly through the market value of the institution, over doing the right thing.

I can sympathise to some extent with doctors who are put under pressure by their line managers to cover up mistakes, for example. If revealing the mistake could cost them their medical career, and if it wasn't their own mistake, then that is a terrible sacrifice to make. It would also take in-demand skill set out of the labour market. It might leave a young child with a depleted family income, wondering why his father is always depressed.

I would be more likely to trust and warm to an institution that doesn't splash its logo everywhere. That does say "hey, I'm not perfect, I've made mistakes before and chances are I will very occasionally make mistakes in the future." I

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Institutional reputation and morality  |  Posted: Sun Feb 28, 2016 1:44 am
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I get the sense (though stipulate I could be mistaken) that you're thinking of a local situation (or a few personal anecdotal examples) and generalizing them on to a larger whole.

More broadly, however, I agree with Marnix that leadership and their personal traits/qualities/character are critical here, but not on their own. Leadership surely sets the tone and provides an example for others to follow, but at the end of the day I think this is much more about culture.

Culture is really just a collection of individual behaviors and individual choices among multiple individual people. There are trends and commonalities across these individual behaviors that aggregate toward some critical mass.

The question here is what is it that leads to the "protect our ingroup at any cost" behaviors to be in the majority versus the "do the right thing since that's more important than the local institution" behaviors to be in the majority.

Surely, it would be silly to lay that responsibility entirely at the feet of leadership alone, no?

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Institutional reputation and morality  |  Posted: Sun Feb 28, 2016 2:58 pm
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Quote:
iNow wrote:
The question here is what is it that leads to the "protect our ingroup at any cost" behaviors to be in the majority versus the "do the right thing since that's more important than the local institution" behaviors to be in the majority.

Surely, it would be silly to lay that responsibility entirely at the feet of leadership alone, no?


If you ask a teacher under neutral conditions what would their response be to a struggling student, they would probably say to provide additional support. However, under the demands of the leadership and threat of dismissal if certain target grades aren't achieved, and when the teacher is already burnt out from the excessive workload, and has no time left for family or friends... under those conditions, in a sad reality, they celebrate the struggling students who give up. It makes their figures look better. Their performance-related pay increases. Their social time is social time, not help-Jack time. The risk of their dismissal reduces.

If you ask a doctor under neutral conditions what would their response be to having witnessed a colleague's medical mistake, they would probably say to report it immediately to a senior manager so that it can be dealt with and lessons learned. However, under the demands of the leadership and threat of dismissal for whistleblowing and under conditions of burnt out and unfair contracts (junior doctors), and having no family time... under those conditions, the sad reality is that doctors will turn a blind eye to medical mistakes. Their line managers stop threatening them with the sack, or blacklisting.

I'm not saying it applies to all institutions all of the time. But I think it is more prevalent in those institutions with the most to prove in terms of reputation. In particular, I think it applies to "outstanding" institutions. Currently I am working in a "requires improvement" secondary school. The staff and atmosphere are lovely - I wish I could stay there permanently. Contrast that with the "outstanding" sixth form college where they cheer at a failed student. That's a toxic environment I would seek to avoid. There is nothing outstanding about the place. They just chop up the student population until all that gets represented in their official figures are the high achievers. They're just a hollow banner without substance to back it up.

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