What are the ethical concerns in public and private institutions? What are the various dilemmas encountered by these institutions? Read on to know more.
Since ethical norms are not organized, there is always a potential that a conflict may arise and that there will be disagreements over proper behavior.
This will give rise to various ethical dilemmas and concerns in public and private institutions.
In this article, we shall try to analyze them briefly.
Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government institutions
Ethical concerns can arise in public institutions when the actions or decisions of those institutions or the individuals working within them do not align with the values, principles, and standards of behavior that are expected in the public sector.
Some common ethical concerns in public institutions include:
- Administrative Discretion: The public official has ample opportunity to use discretion within the confines of the laws’ established norms and regulations and the established procedures. The problem is that choosing one course of action from a range of options is frequently done based on personal preference, political or other affiliations, or even self-aggrandizement.
- Corruption: Corruption in public office refers to the misuse of public power for personal or financial gain. This can take many forms, including bribery, embezzlement, fraud, and nepotism. Corruption in public office can have serious consequences for individuals, organizations, and societies. It can undermine trust in government, hinder economic development, and lead to social and political instability. It can also disproportionately impact marginalized or disadvantaged groups, as they may be less able to access the resources or opportunities that are being corruptly distributed.
- Administrative secrecy: Administrative secrecy, also known as official secrecy or state secrecy, refers to the practice of keeping certain information or activities secret within government institutions. However, administrative secrecy can also be a concern in government institutions, as it can be used to conceal wrongdoing or abuse of power or to limit transparency and accountability. It can also restrict access to information that is in the public interest, such as information about environmental impacts, public health, or government decision-making.
- Nepotism: Nepotism in government institutions refers to the practice of favoritism or preferential treatment based on personal relationships, rather than merit. This can occur when a public official hires, promotes or favors someone based on their personal relationship with that individual, rather than considering the qualifications or suitability of other candidates.
- Information leaks: In public institutions, information leaks can be a concern because they can compromise the confidentiality and security of sensitive information, such as national security secrets, confidential government documents, or personal data. Information leaks can also undermine trust in the government and can lead to political or social instability.
To learn more about the challenges of corruption in public office click here
Reasons for the unethical behavior of government officials
There are a variety of reasons why public officials may engage in unethical behavior. Some common reasons include:
- Personal gain: Public officials may be motivated by a desire for personal financial gain or to advance their careers.
- Power or influence: Public officials may abuse their power or influence for personal or inappropriate purposes.
- Lack of accountability: If there are insufficient mechanisms in place to hold public officials accountable for their actions, they may be more likely to engage in unethical behavior.
- Culture of corruption: If corruption is prevalent within an organization or society, public officials may be more likely to engage in unethical behavior.
- Personal values or beliefs: Public officials may act unethically if their values or beliefs conflict with the values or standards of behavior expected in the public sector.
- Pressure or temptation: Public officials may be tempted to engage in unethical behavior if they are under pressure to meet certain goals or if they are offered incentives or rewards for unethical behavior.
- Excessive security: Excessive security which has been provided in Acts like PoCA and Article 311 of the Constitution etc. is misused by corrupt and unethical civil servants.
Ethical Concerns in Private Sector Institutions
In private institutions, ethics refers to the moral standards that ought to guide business decisions. Some common ethical concerns in private institutions include:
Ethical concerns with respect to employees
- working at several companies: An employee is not permitted to work in more than one location at once.
- Inflammatory communications: In the workplace, offensive language is not permitted.
- Incorrect use of equipment for personal purposes.
- Making use of the travel incentive.
- Taking more than the permitted amount of leaves.
Ethical concerns with respect to employers
- Favoritism: An employer shouldn’t give a specific employee preferential treatment when it comes to promotions and bonuses.
- Sexual assault
- letting a worker go without giving them any notice.
- Payment of the employee’s gratuity and provident fund is delayed needlessly.
Taking Credit for Others’ Work
- Employees frequently collaborate in teams to produce new goods, improve services, and come up with marketing initiatives, but this rarely results in equal contributions from all members of the group. It is improper for all employees to receive equal recognition when only a small number completed the necessary work. To aid in the completion of a project, team members should ensure that all employees execute certain tasks.
- Employees frequently are unsure about what to do if they witness another employee being sexually, emotionally, or physically harassed by a coworker. If an employee attempts to report a superior for harassment, they can be concerned for their jobs.
- The staff members who write the employee handbook for the business are most suited to find a solution to this moral conundrum. It is their responsibility to include precise wording that makes it clear that an employee won’t be disciplined for reporting coworkers’ inappropriate behavior or harassing behavior.
Transparency and disclosure
- Transparency and disclosure are important ethical concerns in private institutions because they help to build trust and confidence in the organization and its actions. They also help to ensure that stakeholders have the information they need to make informed decisions about their relationship with the organization.
Quality of products and services
- Providing quality that falls short of what the organization promises is always viewed by society as immoral.
Ethical dilemmas in government and private institutions
Ethical dilemmas refer to situations in which individuals or organizations face conflicting moral obligations or values, and must choose which course of action to take. Ethical dilemmas can arise in both public and private institutions. Some common ethical dilemmas include:
- Conflicts of interest: This occurs when an individual’s interests or relationships conflict with their duties or responsibilities within the organization. For example, a public official may face an ethical dilemma if they are asked to make a decision that could benefit a family member or close friend.
- Transparency vs. confidentiality: Public and private institutions may be faced with ethical dilemmas when deciding whether to disclose sensitive information or to keep it confidential. For example, a private company may face an ethical dilemma when deciding whether to disclose information about a product defect that could potentially harm consumers.
- Individual vs. collective interests: Ethical dilemmas may arise when an individual or organization must choose between acting in their interests or the interests of a larger group. For example, a private company may face an ethical dilemma when deciding whether to pursue a business opportunity that could benefit the company but could potentially harm the environment or the community.
- Rights and responsibilities: Ethical dilemmas may arise when an individual or organization must choose between conflicting rights or responsibilities. For example, a public official may face an ethical dilemma when deciding whether to prioritize the right to privacy of an individual, or the responsibility to protect public safety.
Principles to be used in resolving ethical dilemmas
Several principles can be useful in resolving ethical dilemmas:
- Respect for autonomy: This principle involves respecting the autonomy and decision-making capacity of individuals and giving them the freedom to make choices about their own lives.
- Non-maleficence: This principle involves avoiding actions that could cause harm or suffering to others.
- Beneficence: This principle involves taking positive actions that promote the well-being of others.
- Justice: This principle involves treating all individuals fairly and equitably.
- Respect for persons: This principle involves respecting the dignity and worth of all individuals.
- Fidelity: This principle involves being faithful or loyal to one’s commitments, values, and principles.
- Veracity: This principle involves being honest and truthful.
By considering these principles when resolving ethical dilemmas, individuals and organizations can make decisions that are aligned with their values and that respect the rights and interests of all stakeholders.
It is important to note that ethical dilemmas may involve conflicting principles, and it may be necessary to weigh the relative importance of different principles to make a decision.
Acts of double effect
The doctrine of double effect, also known as the principle of double effect, is a moral principle that is often used to distinguish between actions that are morally permissible and morally wrong.
The principle holds that it is sometimes morally acceptable to perform an action that has both good and bad consequences, as long as the action intends to produce the good consequences and the bad consequences are not intended or are only a side effect of the action.
The principle of double effect has four main components:
- The action must be morally good or neutral in itself.
- The bad consequence must not be how the good consequence is achieved.
- The bad consequence must not be intended.
- The good consequences must outweigh the bad consequences.
Examples of actions that may be subject to the principle of double effect include administering pain medication to a terminally ill patient, which may have the side effect of hastening the patient’s death or bombing a military target during wartime, which may also cause civilian casualties.
The principle of double effect is often used to justify certain actions that might otherwise be considered morally wrong, such as euthanasia or abortion. However, the principle is also subject to debate and criticism, and its application can be complex and nuanced.
Article written by: Caroline