An Analysis of Ethical Principles in The Evaluation The term ‘ethical’, as I have come to apprehend it, is not just conforming to putative standards of conduct, but dealing with what is good or bad and with moral duty and obligation. Thomas A. Schwandt, a professor at the University of Illinois, notes that “while we can live in a world without standards and guidelines, we cannot live in a world without ethics. ” Although, standards and guidelines have become prominent and are important guides in today’s evaluation process, a greater emphasis is laid on high ethical standards.
Evaluators are faced with challenging issues in which they are expected to act in ways that are consistent with the principles of the company and epitomize exemplary ethical behavior. In this paper I will analyze the issue confronting an evaluator in a case study and explain how it can be resolved using some recognized ethical principles. The case centers on the evaluation process in an international organization, Siam Chemicals Company (SCC), and its parent company, Chimique Helevetique Ltd. (CHL).
Like most companies or organizations, SCC went through an annual evaluation process “to measure an individual’s input and output, competencies and results. ” It established a standardized format in which all its companies worldwide were to follow in evaluating management grades. The basis of the assessment was on achieving set goals by a certain period with a grading system ranging form A to E; an A grade signified an outstanding performance while an E grade indicated a problematic performance. Richard Evans, an Englishman, was the Managing Director of Siam Chemicals Company.
Having worked for CHL for a couple of years, he had come to understand the standards, guidelines, and principles. Evans’ new position relocated him and his family to Thailand, and they found it difficult to adjust to the new culture. Evans witnessed a vast cultural difference in his Thailand office, especially after an early setback with one of his Thai senior managers, Mr. Somsak, in which he had used the European approach to persuade Mr. Somsak from resigning. After the incident, Evans was advised to pay close attention to their cultural values.
After all, Asians and Europeans behave differently and have different cultures. However, Evans noticed that his fellow predecessors did not apply the standard approach in evaluating the Thai locals. Subsequently, he knew that the evaluation issue was one to “be tackled head-on. ” The evaluation process was an important issue because the company was looking for experienced managers to relocate to new subsidiaries in the future. He therefore decided, knowing that a common standard was required, to implement the evaluation system proposed by the company’s headquarters.
Evans and his colleagues recognized Somsak’s hard work and dedication to the company. His other boss praised him for his “exceptional performance. ” However, Somsak had failed to meet some of the goals set by Evans. After sessions of interviews and contemplations, Evans decided to award Somsak with an overall C grade. A “visibly hurt and uncomprehending” Somsak questioned the new approach, and Evans observed that his behavior was affecting his team. He has to make a decision on whether to “compromise his principle’s and upgrade Somsak, or stick to his guns and risk losing him. Now, the question of how Evans should tackle this dilemma elevates. Looking at this problem from an Egoist perspective, our decision maker, Evans, should act in a way that satisfies his own self-interest even though it may conflict with the interest of others. An egoist believes that whatever serves his or her own interest is morally right; likewise, they believe that they have no moral obligation to others. As an Egoist, Evans would implement the standard system because it serves his best interest.
Evans concern is with the success of his company, and he is worried that not imposing this norm would cause problems for the company in the long run. As Evan states, “it would not give recognition for exceptional performance and so effective SCC managers would probably vote with their feet, confident… they could walk into another probably better-paid job the same, or at the latest, the next day. ” Although Evans is aware that his proposed actions may cost the company an effective manager, he would overlook Somsak’s feelings in hope that his subordinates and colleagues would respect his new approach.
On the other hand, viewing the problem from a group relativist perspective, which focuses on the expectations others have on our behavior; things would turn out differently than in the pervious perspective. A group relativist believes that his best choice is one that supports the interest of the group. A group relativist would ask himself if his actions relate to that of his group’s norms. If his actions are contrary to that of his group, then it is not accepted. Therefore, Evans would modify the pervious changes he made to the system and upgrade Somsak because his fellow predecessors considered it the ommon practice. As Denis Collins states, “associating oneself to the ethical standard of a group is often considered to be a higher stage of moral reasoning than that of egoism” (84). As a group relativist, Evans would follow what he considered to be ethically acceptable behavior since it is the common practice used in evaluating the Thai workers. Looking at the dilemma using the cultural relativist perspective, Evans would take into consideration the widely shared and accepted cultural values of the people.
Although culture is not universally shared, Evans must learn to comply with the Thai’s management ways. Bearing in mind that no one system is better than the other, he would revert the changes he made to the system and upgrade Somsak; however for a different reason. According to this principle, “right and wrong are culture-specific; what is considered moral in one society may be considered immoral in another, and, since no universal standard of morality exists, no one has the right to judge another society’s customs. Evans understands that inflicting his western standards on his Asians business manager, based on this viewpoint, would be ethically indefensible. Even though there is need for a consistence with the evaluation system, Evan has to be sensitive and open to their cultural believes and values. Applying the Utilitarian perspective, however – which advocates providing the greatest good for the greater number of people – our decision maker would have a different take on the situation. To a utilitarian, the choice that yields the greatest benefit to the most people is the choice that is ethically correct.
In evaluating this dilemma, Evan would weigh the opinions of all involved in this outcome, and then commit to an action that he believes benefits almost everyone. Looking at the dilemma in this viewpoint, one might judge that upgrading Somsak would provide the greatest benefit to almost everyone. This decision would be best for the company because they get to retain an effective manager. If they did lose Somsak, it would affect the productivity in the office. Finally, in respect to the justice approach, Evans would conform to what he believes is the fair approach to this dilemma.
The fundamental idea behind this standpoint is to treat similarly situated people in the same manner. As the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally. ” In analyzing this dilemma, Evans would have to consider all the other employees at SCC who have been assessed using the same system. Then ask: would it be fair to show favor on Somsak? The justice approach believes that favoritism or discrimination is ethically unjust. Hence, Evans would impartially apply his approach and overlook the resentment he might face by Somsak or his colleagues.
Looking at these various philosophies and their outcomes illustrate the different ways in which a problem can be tackled – with each outcome being morally defensible. We all face and make ethical decisions; however, how we decide to tackle these dilemmas depend solely on the individual’s moral or ethical plane. If I were to take the place of our decision maker, Richard Evans, I will view the problem through a cultural relativist lens. As a popular saying goes, “When in Rome, do what the Romans do. ” I will examine the problem within the context of their culture.
Being aware of the locals’ sensitive behavior to negative remarks, which arises from a cultural, psychological acceptance to high remarks, I will not impose my own standards because it is not universally shared; therefore, it is not consistent with their culture. Work Cited Collins, Denis. Essential of Business Ethics. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2009. Got Questions. What is Cultural Relativism? < http://www. gotquestions. org/cultural-relativism. html> Management Guru. Personal and Business Ethics. <http://www. mgmtguru. com/mgt301/301_Lecture4Page2. htm>