Dealing with ethical dilemma's in organizational change processes

André Nijhof, Olaf Fisscher

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Several theories exist on how managers think aboutethical responsibilities in a business environment.Some stress the economic way of thinking and explainwhy there is no space for moral reasoning in abusiness environment. Others claim that in a businessenvironment also moral considerations can play animportant role. In this article, we will explore theway managers have actually dealt with potentialdilemmas in organizational change processes,especially changes with drastic consequences foremployees. Do managers consider moral arguments? Dothey feel a moral responsibility towards theiremployees? And in what way do they include a moralresponsibility in the decision process and itsoutcomes? These questions were investigated throughcase studies in two organisations and interviews withsix managers in other companies. The framework whichis used in the research will be described and the mainresults of the field-research will be presented. Wedid find that managers actually strived to some extentfor fair and morally responsible solutions in dilemmasituations, but in another way then we expectedbeforehand. Managers did not base their acting onmoral arguments. Instead they used a more pragmaticapproach wherein acting in a morally responsible wayis based on strategic arguments, such as the positiveeffects for the organisation in the long run.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)173-192
    Number of pages20
    JournalInternational journal of value-based management
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


    • Business ethics
    • Ethical dilemmas
    • Moral policies
    • Principled and pragmatic approach
    • Responsible decision making
    • Reconcile different responsibilities
    • Organizational change
    • Field of tension


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