Term Paper: Accountability and Ethics in Corporate

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[. . .] The ethics in business, according to Quinn are instrumental in that they eventually serve to improve the success of the business (Quinn, 1995). Quinn's belief that the ethics are actually invented to serve a financial purpose tends to muddy the concept of ethics at the corporate level. When the reader peels off the top layer of the theory and examines the underpinnings they will discover that there is merit in Quinn's theory. The business ethics in many cases are actually self-driven and developed by what the customer demand through their support (Quinn, 1995).

The second view of the firm is necessarily agnostic about whether good ethics is good business. The "principled moral reasoning" view of business policy assumes morality is intrinsically, not instrumentally, good. That is, morality is an end in itself and cannot be justified with reference to the gain of a firm or its shareholders alone. Wealth considerations are not precluded from the analysis, but they cannot trump moral principle when wealth and principle conflict. We call this view no instrumental ethics (Quinn, 1995). "

Quinn outlines the theory that business ethics at the executive level are driven by greed and the desire for success. He is convincing in his argument however, the businesses that participate in ethics at top levels do have a better chance at success, which in turn makes the world respect the company more. It is a revolving circle that feeds itself (Quinn, 1995).


The question of accountability at the management level becomes a bit more complicated. At the executive level many of the accountability factors are more theory than application. While the corporation bears some responsibility for the actions of its workers, it is the managers who deal daily with them who are usually held accountable. The management accountability factor often plays the level above the manager and the level below the manager against each other, leaving the manager trying to explain. Accountability then becomes something that must be documented. Performance documentation allows for the measurement of performance which in turn can be used to set policy and ethical mandates (Why Measure Performance? (http://www.treasury.tas.gov.au/domino/dtf/dtf.nsf/03b2a1d6613ba1894a2566bf001d6c3f/ef741d3be61e1eec4a2566dc0029fb35?OpenDocument).

How well are we doing? How can we do better? Through systematic measurement and evaluation of performance, evidence is obtained that assists in developing a better understanding of (Why Measure Performance? (http://www.treasury.tas.gov.au/domino/dtf/dtf.nsf/03b2a1d6613ba1894a2566bf001d6c3f/ef741d3be61e1eec4a2566dc0029fb35?OpenDocument):" how well existing services perform;

how well services meet the needs of clients; and whether the services provided are consistent with Government expectations of agency performance.

Performance information is required for both internal and external purposes. The timely availability of such information enables well-informed decisions to be made about how to improve performance (Why Measure Performance? (http://www.treasury.tas.gov.au/domino/dtf/dtf.nsf/03b2a1d6613ba1894a2566bf001d6c3f/ef741d3be61e1eec4a2566dc0029fb35?OpenDocument)."

Output performance measures provide information that assists the company:

monitor what is being done;

assess whether the right things are being done;

adjust to changes;

manage for change;

account for what has been achieved; and improve the provision of goods and services (Why Measure Performance? (http://www.treasury.tas.gov.au/domino/dtf/dtf.nsf/03b2a1d6613ba1894a2566bf001d6c3f/ef741d3be61e1eec4a2566dc0029fb35?OpenDocument)."

For management accountability purposes it is important according to Quinn to use a broad range of measures. Experts are effective in their proof that the broader the range of measurement the better the standard of accountability will be.

Many aspects of the development, gathering and reporting of performance information can be delegated. However, ensuring that performance information is available when needed, that it is acted upon to improve performance, and that the changes made do result in improvement are corporate responsibilities (The four elements of performance information (http://www.treasury.tas.gov.au/domino/dtf/dtf.nsf/03b2a1d6613ba1894a2566bf001d6c3f/9bf3fc227850c88e4a2566dd000c689a?OpenDocument)."

This lends itself to use for accountability standards at the management level being determined. Accountability can be encouraged at the management level through the use of rewards and benefits. While accountability outside of the workplace is usually moralistically driven the business world often uses incentives to encourage its management level workers to maintain ethics and accountability standards.

The development and use of performance information has to be strategic and occur as an integral part of an agency's integrated management, budgeting, monitoring, reporting and decision making processes (The four elements of performance information (http://www.treasury.tas.gov.au/domino/dtf/dtf.nsf/03b2a1d6613ba1894a2566bf001d6c3f/9bf3fc227850c88e4a2566dd000c689a?OpenDocument)."


The accountability of individual workers can be problematic. Often times workers have individualized ideas about what is and isn't acceptable work behavior and performance. In addition many lower level workers are not viewing the job as a long-term commitment. Therefore, the effort to perform ethically may not be what it should be at times. Individual employees often see the management as the enemy and may even work to sabotage accountability in their management's realm of responsibility (McFarlane, 1995). To encourage the acceptance of accountability at the individual level management as well as the corporation can use incentives. Accepting responsibility and agreeing to be held accountable for performance on the job is an important step to career growth. Experts believe communication is another crucial element.

A recent research study was performed and it concluded that individuals through performance demonstrate their commitment to the company. The study further believes that managers who agree to be accountable for their employees can detect which employees are committed to the company and which ones are simply performing the job at hand. Individual accountability according to experts, is more prevalent with workers who plan their careers with their companies (McFarlane, 1995).


As the world continues to globalize and America struggles to find its economic footing many companies are re-evaluating their structural organization to improve performance. Accountability at the corporate level has been debated for years, both in the courtrooms and out of them. Accountability at all levels of business, however, can be a key factor in success or failure. Literature has supported the idea that executives, managers and individual workers each accept accountability in a different manner. They are all important in the teamwork of success and literature supports that concept.


Managing Performance Information (accessed 7-21-2002)


Quinn, Dennis P.; Jones, Thomas M. (1995). An agent morality view of business policy.. Vol. 20, Academy of Management Review, pp 22(21).

Paine, SharpLynn (1994). - Harvard Univ. Graduate School of Business Administration, Managing for Organizational Integrity. Harvard Business Review, pp p 106.

____(1998).Praise from the boss may be best reward., The Toronto Star.

Shore, Lynn McFarlane; Barksdale, Kevin (1995). Shore, Ted H., Managerial perceptions of employee commitment to the organization. (includes appendix). Vol. 38, Academy of Management Journal, pp 1593(23).

Why Measure Performance? (Accessed 7-21-2002)

http://www.treasury.tas.gov.au/domino/dtf/dtf.nsf/03b2a1d6613ba1894a2566bf001d6c3f/ef741d3be61e1eec4a2566dc0029fb35?OpenDocument [END OF PREVIEW]

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