System of Inquiry for the University Essay

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System of Inquiry for the University of Houston

There are many different factors that contribute to ethical decision-making in an organization. Since every individual has their own personal 'moral compass', it is up to the organization to lay out a consistent and comprehensive guideline of what types of behaviors are accepted, and what types of behaviors will not be tolerated. The foundation of such a system of inquiry is the formal code of ethics. A code of ethics that is formulated to address the specific needs and goals of an organization can go a long way in ensuring compliance. However, in order for this code to be effective, it has to not only be properly devised, but also properly distributed and enforced.

The organization that will be the focus of this system of inquiry will be the University of Houston. It will address issues related to ethical decision-making, problem solving and behavior among the University's administrative staff members. In addition to the basic framework of the model, a discussion will ensue regarding the implementation action plan, expected obstacles and how to overcome them; and promotion, distribution and enforcement of the code.

Executive Summary

The University of Houston is the third largest University in the State of Texas. It was founded in 1927 and now has twelve campuses. The closest thing to a system of inquiry or code of ethics the University currently has in place is called the "Manual of Administrative Policies and Procedures," also known as MAPP.

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The MAPP outlines the basic rules that administrative staff members are expected to adhere to in three critical areas of procurement: 1) level of quality in purchasing or contracting for goods; 2) personal gain and 3) conflict of interests. While the document is very specific about the areas that the University is concerned about, the details are somewhat vague. There is also a need to address an array of additional issues that are not currently included in the MAPP. These combined factors make the University of Houston an excellent candidate for a new and improved system of inquiry and code of ethics.

Model Framework

VALUES and MISSION

Essay on System of Inquiry for the University of Assignment

The University of Houston strives to promote values of honesty, integrity and accountability for the actions and decisions of its faculty and staff. We strive to provide our diverse group of students with the best education possible. We also have a strong commitment to helping our community. Our official mission statement is as follows:

"The mission of the University of Houston is to discover and disseminate knowledge through the education of a diverse population of traditional and non-traditional students, and through research, artistic and scholarly endeavors, as it becomes the nation's premier public university in an urban setting. In this role, the University of Houston applies its expertise to the challenges facing the local, state, national, and international communities, and it establishes and nurtures relationships with community organizations, government agencies, public schools, and the private sector to enhance the educational, economic, and cultural vitality of Houston and Texas" (University of Houston website, 2009).

STANDARDS of CONDUCT

Faculty and administrative staff members are expected to adhere to, and promote, the values and missions described above. They are also required to report any misconduct they observe or suspect that is in violation of the university's ethical standards and policies. Standards of conduct include:

University employees are expected to participate in honest and fair dealings with outside vendors. All contracts must be reviewed by the University legal department. No 'hidden' fees or conditions are permitted.

Staff and faculty are strictly forbidden from receiving any type of personal compensation, including monetary bribes, all other types of bribes including reciprocal promises, kickbacks or any type of exchanges in which personal gain is bestowed upon the employee.

Nepotism will not be tolerated. Priority or special treatment will not be given to family members or those in personal relationships with the staff or faculty member.

Staff and Faculty members are restricted from having any type of inappropriate relationship with students or vendors. This means anything that extends beyond the typical student-staff or vender-employee professional relationship. Romantic relationships between staff members are discouraged.

Staff and Faculty are forbidden from publicly slandering the University, its staff, students, groups or practices

The University has a 'zero tolerance' policy when it comes to drugs, alcohol, obscene materials, weapons, violence or any type of illegal act occurring on campus, or any University property. Drug screening tests will be given at random throughout the year, or when there is a specific reason to suspect that a staff or faculty member may be using illegal substances. Positive results may incur immediate dismissal.

All University employees are required to make physical safety a top priority.

Discrimination and/or sexual harassment of vendors, students or colleagues are grounds for immediate dismissal.

The taking of any university property without proper permission, including money, is strictly prohibited. Violators will be subject to immediate dismissal and potential legal action.

All University employees are to follow the chain of command and report any noted infractions to this policy to their immediate supervisor.

No staff or faculty members are permitted to disclose confidential university information to any third party, under any circumstances, unless given permission by the proper authority.

University employees are required to respect the privacy and personal rights of students, staff members and all other parties that come in contact with the University.

CONFLICTS of INTEREST

Conflict of interest is defined in this document as "A situation that has the potential to undermine the impartiality of a person because of the possibility of a clash between the person's self-interest and professional-interest or public-interest" (Business Dictionary, 2009). This is a situation in which the ethical decision-making process is paramount. To assist our employees in this decision-making process, the following guidelines are provided:

University employees are forbidden to receive any type of personal benefit or gain as result of their interactions with venders, suppliers, media or any third parties in which a professional relationship exists.

In any circumstance in which there is a question of ethical behavior relating to Conflict of interest, staff and faculty are required to opt for the most reasonably ethical choice. The reasonably ethical choice is the one that it least likely to diverge from the definition of conflict of interests stated above.

MONITORING and ENFORCEMENT

Every University employee is directly responsible for maintaining his or her own level of compliance with the standards of conduct, as well as the actions and behaviors of others. Suspected violations must be reported to the proper authorities -- usually an immediate supervisor -- in a timely and honest manner. False reporting is subject to disciplinary action, as this undermines the entire system of inquiry.

NOTE: This document does not cover every possibility or scenario in which ethical decision-making may occur. Yet, in all circumstances, whether they are explicitly spelled out in this document or not, all University employees are required to make sound, reasonable and ethical decisions, consistently.

Implementation Action Plan

This document will be distributed to every employee of the University. They will have to initial each section to ensure that they have read it, and will then sign and date the document and return it to their supervisor. By signing and initialing the document, they are agreeing to full compliance with the policies and standards addressed in the document.

Discussion and Analysis

Systems of inquiry and codes of ethics are not new concepts. They have existed for centuries. Almost every University, corporation, company or organization has at least some type of formal code of ethics in place. Unfortunately, many are treated as an afterthought and are not properly devised, distributed or enforced. Any type of code of conduct is essentially worthless if it is not correctly implemented.

According to Olson (2009) "Codes of ethics are to be reflections of the morally permissible standards of conduct which members of a group make binding upon themselves. These standards of conduct often reach beyond or delve deeper into societal morality in order to give guidance to people within a group on issues that are specific to the group" (p. 1).

Schnebel & Bienert (2004) recommend training and communication as part of the implementation plan to improve ethical behavior. As part of the resolution process when facing ethical dilemmas, retraining on ethical standards and practices, legal ramifications, regulatory compliance/guidelines and code of conduct are imperative. Therefore, even if other values are not considered, at least the most important ones will be considered during the problem-solving process.

According to Trevino and Nelson (2004) managers that are under the direction of a compromised administration feel pressured to support unethical decision making even though it goes against their principles, morals and values. Further, Cooper's (2006) Ethical Decision-Making Model suggests that when responsible administrators are confronted with unethical situations, that there is no set means to deal with them but that appropriate steps are taken as presented in the model to establish a standard process to quickly get to an adequate solution… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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