Decision making

All posts tagged Decision making

The Effects of Social Learning

Published October 14, 2015 by Mayrbear's Lair

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On Monday, our post was focused on why U.S. Citizens observe Columbus Day because for many of us, our views of the historical event have changed. Now, rather than rely on what we were originally taught as school children, we are considering a new perspective because of the information that has emerged due to what many experts call “social learning.” So today our post is focused on the effects of social learning and the role it plays in our own evolutionary process.

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As we continue to acknowledge, the interdependence of the global community is growing exponentially and as a result society is experiencing social and technological change at an accelerated rate. This paradigm shift introduces pressure and challenges based on an individual’s ability to apply discipline and control the direction of their lives. Theorist Albert Bandura (1997) purports self-efficacy plays an influential part in sculpting the parameters of human functionality and the intellectual development that helps shapes an individual’s beliefs, occupational development patterns and the quality of their health and well-being. In his own experiences with overcoming trial and error, Bandura discovered that there is an inherent ability for people to overcome hardship and stress by responding strategically to chance events in order to help build successful lives (Bandura, 1997).

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Individuals can guide their destiny with an optimistic view of efficacy. Bandura’s theories suggest this can help an individual deal with failure, frustration and conflicts that easily derail people who lack a strong sense of self-worth and value. His theories further contend that values, attitudes and styles of behavior are shaped through the power of modeling and observing others (Boswell, 2007). This pattern can be observed in the corporate workplace from individuals that work closely together. When I was employed at Capitol-EMI Industries for example, the administrative staff of corporate executives reflected a demeanor that mirrored their departmental leader. For instance, executives that were more reserved and unapproachable, employed staff that modeled a similar reserved unapproachable disposition. On the other hand, the department heads who were more open, personable and approachable, had staff members that modeled a more playful and welcoming persona. In this instance, the subordinates mirrored the behavior to reflect the energy patterns of the leader from the office to which they served.

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Bandura’s (1991) research also contends there are many stages of moral reasoning. He cites that different types emerge from continuous stage sequences that can alter uniform thinking models (Bandura, 1991).  For instance, punishment based obedience can destroy self-worth and self-efficacy rendering an individual to a belief system whose values are based on negative reinforcement. This conditioning is transferred into the workplace as an individual with a timid personality that is disinclined to voice their opinions for fear of being reprimanded and ridiculed. One strategy to help overcome these tendencies is for the individual to identify and become cognizant of the triggers that activate feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth. This can help the individual take action that can help change their views and motivate them to incorporate positive outcomes. In conclusion, even though the effects of social learning emerge as an extension of operant conditioning, individuals cognizant of the outcomes from negative input, can change the patterns through analysis to respond strategically.

Well …that’s a wrap for today … until next time … keep learning and stay organized!

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Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. – Albert Einstein

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Winter arrival

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References:

Bandura, A. (1991). Social cognitive theory of moral thought and action. Handbook of moral behavior and development, 1, pp. 45-103. Hillsdale, NJ, USA: Standford University. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://exordio.qfb.umich.mx/archivos%20pdf%20de%20trabajo%20umsnh/aphilosofia/2007/NEUROPSICOLOGIA/BanSCTMoral.pdf

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy in changing societies. Cambridge, UK : Cambridge University Press.

Boswell, R. (2007, December 6). Belief that people learn by watching earns psychologist top award in field. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: ProQuest. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/docview/241121957/fulltext/13D047E8E8B2A4592FA/1?accountid=32521

Organizational Knowledge and The Learning Process

Published September 10, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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According to business analysts, to achieve maximum results, organizational “knowledge” has to be captured and used.  In one of the MBA courses at Ashford University, our professor revealed that successful leaders capture organizational knowledge and use it effectively by: (a) keeping it human; (b) putting focus on useful knowledge and “know-how”; (c) collecting artifacts; (d) the avoidance of insular or isolated focus; and (e) keeping knowledge fresh.

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The learning process is an essential component in organizational management and often transpires when leaders detect, analyze and correct errors. Argyris (1993) suggested that mistakes occur because of a mismatch between what an organization intends to achieve with their actions with respect to what actually transpired.  In other words errors are made when a disconnect emerges between intentions and results. In addition, learning also occurs when an organization produces a match between intentions and results for the first time. The most effective business leaders understand that actionable knowledge is significant in running an organization efficiently (Argyris, 1993).

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One way of capturing knowledge and using it effectively is by keeping it human. This means that although every company wants to be highly profitable, the human factor is equally important. It requires the development of a culture that supports employees with such components like a generous compensation, benefits, and a safe working environment. It also means becoming an organization that is socially conscious to the environment and contributes to the welfare of the community. Furthermore, companies that embrace a keep it human attitude, are also the firms that are popular with consumers usually because they have devised systems that are focused on customer relationship management and engage in practices that support responsible corporate citizenship.

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In addition, effective organizational leaders focus on useful knowledge and know-how strategies. Bontis and Choo (2002) identify this tactic as knowledge strategy and purport that it is a competitive strategy that is built around a firm’s intellectual resources and capabilities. It consists of the strategic choices a company makes using knowledge and experience to guide a firm’s development and operational functions. In addition, innovative knowledge strategies can help motivate superior performance levels (Bontis & Choo, 2002).

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Another useful strategy is collecting artifacts which include anything from competitor product samples, to adding technology that helps run the company more efficiently, to valuable information about the industry like where to mine for new leads. Collecting artifacts can: (a) help managers operate the firm more effectively, (b) give them a competitive edge, (c) help paint a clearer picture of the current marketplace, and (d) help managers anticipate new trends and changes.

On Friday, we will take a closer look at how organizational knowledge helps leaders in the strategic planning process. Until then … keep organized!

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A person should look for what is, and not for what they think should be. – Albert Einstein

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Lippincott Room at Princeton University Press

For more information on Media Magic, our digital publications, or to purchase any of our accelerated learning Business Life titles, please visit our website at: Media Magic Publishing.

References:

Argyris, C. (1993). Knowledge for action. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Bontis, N., & Choo, C. (2002). The strategic management of intellectual and capital and organizational knowledge. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

The Ethics of Heightened Tensions

Published August 4, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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With all the bad news and negative images in the world, it may help explain why many people are feeling overwhelmed with emotions and behave defensively. In addition, most folks are dealing with pressures from work, expectations from colleagues, commitments to loved ones, financial obligations, relationship issues, and so forth. As tensions continue to build, more and more people are unable to operate at full capacity, and in extreme cases, many with low tolerance levels respond quickly with short explosive fuses that can result in destructive and even violent acts.

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People that react from fear and panic, initially respond from a fight or flight state of mind. That is when the reptilian part of the brain takes over which instinctively goes into survival mode. It is from this heightened state that typically many individuals engage in behavior with little or no regard for ethical outcomes. Their only objective in operating from this attitude is a successful outcome. In other words, irrational responses are more likely to occur when decisions are made quickly from an extreme emotional mental state, rather than allowing a moment to think of a situation appropriate response before taking action.

There are exceptions, of course, when life and death situations occur. A split second decision in an emergency may be crucial. Under these conditions taking a moment to think rationally may not be an option. However, in other instances, when pressure is mounting in an individual’s personal or business life, in addition to their feeling that the world is in complete disarray, the sensation of hopelessness can prompt some individuals to behave irrationally; giving in to unethical or destructive behavior.

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It seems logical, that especially during those times when we feel that: (a) the world seems unfair, (b) an escalating amount of respected leaders are caught behaving unreasonably, and (c) more people than not, seem to be engaged in misconduct, that is when we really need to get involved and help make positive changes. Not just in our immediate environment, collectively, we also need to become more cognizant of our contributions as a global family. In other words, take accountability when we make mistakes, bad judgement calls, or hurt others. It also requires that we engage in behavior that reflects mindful, responsible citizenship in our business affairs and home environments.

One way to achieve this is to help cultivate an ethical climate by making conscious choices to conduct ourselves reasonably with common sense and compassion for others. For example, when we encounter people or an institution engaged in unethical behavior like cheating, stealing, lying, or illegal conduct, we are faced with one of three choices: (a) expose the behavior, (b) ignore the behavior, or (c) participate and condone the behavior. If we choose to expose the behavior, we risk being chastised as whistle blowers, but by courageously moving forward we can help achieve ethical outcomes. If we ignore the behavior, we avoid the risk of not fitting in as a player at the corrupted culture and save everyone involved the embarrassment of getting caught. However, by keeping silent, we are helping to enable unethical behavior. If, on the other hand, we choose to condone the behavior, even participate in it, we are not only contributing to an unethical culture, we are gambling that we will not get caught or face the consequences for engaging in misconduct.

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This is where ethics comes into play. In my book, Ethics in the Real World (2013), I explained that individuals who make the best ethical choices do not engage or support strategies that include lying, cheating, stealing, or illegal conduct.  The truth is, most people are not interested in conducting business with others they do not trust. Furthermore, leaders who lack ethics and cultivate a culture of fear are not likely to earn respect from their staff or the community for that matter (Berry, 2013). When individuals, whether in respected positions of power or not, use tactics of intimidation, illegal conduct, misdirection, or get caught in blatant lies, they jeopardize tarnishing their reputation and credibility permanently.

Thich Nhat Hanh (2013) compares all our emotions to weather events—they blow in, remain for a time and move on. He suggests that if we stop all our thinking when these storm fronts of strong emotions develop (and I will add “refraining from verbalizing and directing toxicity towards others” to this list), we can help prevent fueling the fire. Instead, we can choose to apply mindful practices like breathing and walking strategies as coping techniques, that will not only calm down our breath when we are feeling out of control, they also serve to help calm the body and mind (Hanh, 2012).

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The truth is, we all have strengths and weaknesses and will continue to face many temptations throughout our journey in life. Although it may take only one person to help shift a corrupted culture, it still requires others to follow suit. Taking all this information into consideration can help us understand more clearly why it makes sense that during those times when we are feeling most vulnerable, confused, and overwhelmed with emotions, that including a component of ethics in the decision making process can help us achieve outcomes we are content to live with.

On Wednesday’s post, we will take a closer look at what neuroscience students from Brown University discovered recently about mindful practices. Until then … Have a great week everyone! Be mindful and stay organized!

“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.” —Mahatma Gandhi

References:

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

Attitudes and Values

Published October 2, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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To market a product or a company effectively, management teams must have a concept of how to promote and position themselves to stand apart from the competition. Morgan (2012) postulates that the number one asset any organization or individual has is their unique personality and their attitude. This is what makes them stand apart from the others. A successful image of a company, therefore, can increase the value of that business dramatically. When it comes to creating a corporate image or creating an organizational attitude, perception is one of the most significant components to consider. For instance, one way a company can create an attitude is by conveying that their brand is not merely a campaign that makes promises, but that their actions and behavior convey a commitment to keep those promises (Morgan, 2012). Business leaders that comprehend this concept are ahead of the game when it comes to creating value. In short, their attitude can also bring them added value.

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Leaders that distinguish the difference between attitude and values are more likely to develop a brand that will experience long lasting success as well as build solid relationships and a loyal customer following. Baack and Clow (2012) explain that attitudes also reflect individual values and that these perceived values and attitudes are key roles that influence consumer decisions. For example, typically, educated consumers incorporate two strategies in the decision making process that can influence their feeling or attitude: (a) the gathering of information and (b) the evaluation of alternate choices. Motivation also plays a role in swaying their attitude in the decision making process. This element determines the amount of enthusiasm they engage to support their needs and wants. Additionally, lower costs and higher benefits are factors that can influence consumer emotions and attitudes. These are a few components that help shape consumer feelings toward making decisions and remaining loyal (Baack & Clow, 2012). This means it is in the company’s best interest to develop strategies that provide consumers with substantial information about their products and services as well as a reason why they offer the best choices over any alternatives. These are factors that can help communicate a positive company image to consumers. This in turn affects their attitude and ultimately makes the company more valuable to them.

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There are many ways a company can create an image or present a company attitude that brings value to consumers. Vincent (2012) suggests that to achieve the most effective results to help shape a positive attitude, marketing strategists should address the following questions:

  • How indispensable is the brand to customers?
  • What is the rate of employee turnover?
  • What does the brand do that is better than any competitor and why is it significant?
  • How easy is it for competitors to replicate the brand experience?
  • How easy is it for customers to do business with the brand?
  • If the brand disappeared tomorrow would anyone care?

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By addressing these topics leaders can help create an experience that will shape a positive feeling or attitude in their consumers which in turn builds trust and confidence (Vincent, 2012). The Starbucks Corporation provides a good example of how a company’s attitude can influence their value. Prior to Starbucks’ genesis, people were used to paying under a dollar for coffee and expected free refills. Starbucks marketing strategists created an atmosphere that made people excited about paying more for coffee because of the feeling or experience the brand created. In other words, they built the success of their company on an attitude that communicated it was cool and hip to pay extra money for coffee to have a social front porch experience in an environment that allows internet access. This brilliant strategic move was the key that turned the Starbucks company into a mega empire. In conclusion, marketing teams that understand the distinction between attitude and value are more likely to experience long lasting success.

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References:

Baack, D., & Clow, K. (2012). Integrated advertising, promotion, and marketing communications (Fifth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NY: Pearson Education, Inc.

Morgan, J. (2012). Brand against the machine: How to build your brand, cut through the marketing noise, and stand out from the competition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Vincent, L. (2012). Brand real: How smart companies live their brand promise and inspire fierce customer loyalty. New York, NY: AMACOM.

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Laws – Part 2

Published September 25, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

Ethics

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Theories

Managers with an awareness of discrimination laws from a variety of vantage points, including ethics, can produce a more successful working environment and avoid lawsuits. Ethical theories help leaders decide what is morally acceptable. Geisler (1989) suggests that ethics can be defined in terms of what the organization deems as morally right and that each company creates its own set of ethical standards (Geisler, 1989). In a business environment, leaders look to their own views of morality and ethics to assist them in the decision making process. However, there are times when a leader is confronted with making a decision and is required to determine whether it is more important for the organization to engage in ethical practices or lawful ones. For example, when a claimant files a sexual harassment charge, they are seeking restitution for the violations they experience. In this situation, employers are obligated to manage both the legal ramifications as well as the ethical ones. In other words, while the proceedings are taking place, the employer must take the necessary steps to allow the justice system to prevail, while employers do what they can to support the individual that is suffering, rather than participate in efforts to isolate and humiliate the plaintiff further.

It is the employer’s responsibility to cultivate a climate that personnel feel safe in. Employees that experience discrimination feel unvalued and inadequate. In addition, employees that are subjected to sexual discrimination and harassment experience more physical and psychological problems. Employers need to protect themselves from these events occurring because victims have the support of the legal system to engage attorneys that will pursue restitution. Seaquist (2012) explains laws concern themselves with issues of right and wrong with the administration of justice. Business leaders should also take into consideration the topics of ethics and morality to help their personnel identify more clearly what is considered acceptable and unacceptable conduct (Seaquist, 2012). For example, business leaders that apply the ethical absolutism theory, accept that there are certain universal parameters that determine what is right and wrong. If stealing is wrong for instance, then it is always considered wrong regardless of the situation. Therefore a business leader that incorporates ethical absolutism will always consider stealing morally wrong. However, if the culture in a business has an open attitude towards sexual harassment and views this behavior as boys just being boys, then in an ethical absolutism environment, sexual harassment is accepted as morally right. Simply put, in an environment where many of the employees in upper management are engaged in extramarital affairs, these executives tend to hire employees that embrace the same attitude, or have a disposition in which they are happy to look the other way, or go with the flow, when it comes to ethical misconduct. Not only are personnel conditioned to accept this behavior, many in fact subscribe that there is nothing morally wrong with it. Corporations that cultivate a culture of religious fundamentalism on the other hand, base their code of ethics on scriptures written by prophets and would most likely reject a concept like this.  It is highly probable that they would view sexual discrimination and harassment as a sin and morally incomprehensible.

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Culture

American culture is slowly emerging from a patriarchal society that supported the male sexual dominance of women and employers that control their workers. For example, many corporate department heads from a former place of employment, hired assistants that were physically attractive with an uninhibited free spirit and disposition. Furthermore, they supported an environment that consisted of an open flirtatious atmosphere established by the leaders with various incentives like compensation, pay raises, promotions, free merchandise, or tickets and backstage passes to special events, the use of company limousines, and other similar perks to encourage and support that behavior. Sexual harassment complaints in this kind of culture are typically nonexistent because of the climate that has been cultivated by the supervisors that everyone conforms to, including low level employees.  In other words, they are able to maintain an unethical atmosphere because candidates for hire were only considered and remained as long as they embraced the established culture.

Employers also set the tone of a work environment by the people they hire. Adler’s (2013) research also indicates that many employers have a difficult time hiring and recruiting the best candidates because they are ineffective at implementing strategies to attract top performers (Adler, 2013).  One of the reasons for this is that many leaders have unhealthy perceptions of employee and subordinate roles in the workplace, especially those hired as personal or administrative assistants. Many executives view their assistants for example, as a reflection of themselves and therefore hire staff members that represent of a certain kind of image they deem appropriate for their department. For instance, in a corporate situation, the head of the legal department may hire staff members that adopt a conservative style based on skills and knowledge to represent the group of attorneys that operate that division. The publicity and promotion departments on the other hand, may hire staff members based on artistic and creative skills.  Staff members may consist of  more free spirited people with an open attitude, youthful drive and energy. In other words, the department heads set the atmosphere for the climate and ethical culture they develop and hire staff members that are an organizational fit in that arena.

There is no single law that covers all workers in the US. Walsh (2013) reminds us that employment laws consist of a patchwork of federal, state, and local laws that continue to evolve and are contingent upon many components including the size of the organization (Walsh, 2013). For example, as mentioned previously, many supervisors hire personal assistants based on certain components including, age, appearance, and physical type rather than seek individuals that are qualified with skills and knowledge. In addition, there are many executives that tend to view assistants as their trophy, rather than a skilled person best qualified for the job. This is indicative of a climate where women are perceived as objects, rather than individuals capable of innovation and considerable contribution to an organization’s success. In addition, these females are also viewed and discriminated against by other staff members of the same sex as well. For example, when I was hired as an administrative assistant in the music industry, issues of discrimination immediately began to surface in the corporate arena.  It was evident from the behavior of other staff members of the same gender and equal rank that I was an outsider to them. I later discovered that some of the women even jokingly referred to me as the new dish. In short, other staff members automatically made a judgment based on appearances, not because of my level of skills and knowledge. Rather than embrace and welcome me as a new employee, they engaged in acts of discrimination, making me feel isolated and friendless. In some cases, many employers and employees do not have a clear set of identifying acceptable and unacceptable relationship boundaries. This also fosters unhealthy relationships.

Legalities

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Legal and Political Aspects

Business leaders that understand the legal and political perspective of discrimination issues, are more likely to achieve the best legal outcomes. Palumbo and Wolfson (2011) suggest that patriarchal systems can also influence behavioral patterns that are enforced, legitimized, and perpetuated in a business arena (Palumbo & Wolfson, 2011). These systems can have a significant influence on politics and policy making. For instance, fundamental religion has played a significant role in the world in that many leaders use this position to justify totalitarian actions that are based on absolutist ideals. Leaders in this climate, reveal their ethical principles by the type of legal systems that support them. For example, the civil law system that is common in most of the European Countries (EC) meticulously outlines individual rights and responsibilities. In its quick implementation of justice and with limited power of judicial interpretation, it reinforces an absolutist kind of ethical philosophy with systems that require strict compliance to statutes that guide behavior and leave little room for deviation.

Common law systems, on the other hand, like those established in the US, leave wide latitude for interpretation and provide a multi-faceted frame for the appellate courts to determine (Palumbo & Wolfson, 2011). In other words, civil laws leave little room for misinterpretation, while common law offers latitude for litigants to argue. For example, in a country where civil laws pervade, a sexual harassment issue can be resolved quickly by the laws. In a country where common law systems pervade, both sides of the case must produce substantial evidence to support their position and in many instances, the defense will engage in tactics that degrade, belittle, and present the victim in an unfavorable manner to provide reasonable doubt with respect to a claim. Because of this, many victims do not come forward to avoid the humiliation of such an experience in addition to the violation they are processing and working to recover from.

References:

Adler, L. (2013). The essential guide for hiring and getting hired. Atlanta, GA: Workbench Media.

Chopra, D. (2013, August 16). 21 day meditation challenge: Miraculous relationships. Retrieved August 16, 2103, from chopracentermeditation.com: https://chopracentermeditation.com

Clarkson, K., & Miller, R. (2012). Business law: Text and cases: Legal, ethical, global and corporate environment. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Fredman, S. (2011). Discrimination law. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Gordon, L. (2007). The sexual harrassment handbook. Franklin Lakes, NJ: The Career Press, Inc.

Hanh, T. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

MacKinnon, C. (1979). Sexual harrassment of working women. Boston, MA: Yale University.

McGraw, P. (2012). Life code. Los Angeles, CA, USA: Bird Street Books.

Palumbo, C., & Wolfson, B. (2011). The law of sex discrimination (Fourth ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Rassas, L. (2011). Employment law: a guide to hiring, managing, and firing employers and employees. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers.

Seaquist, G. (2012). Business law for managers. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Walsh, D. (2013). Employment law for human resource practice. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Wilde, S. (1987). Life was never meant to be a struggle. Carlsbad, CA, USA: Hay House, Inc.

Ethical Decision Making

Published July 15, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Making difficult decisions in a corporate arena is a complicated process for leaders, especially if they lack sufficient skills to make effective ones. Ferrell et al. (2013) suggest there are a variety of components leaders take into consideration when making decisions. They include identifying: (a) the ethical issue intensity, (b) the individual factors, and (c) the organizational factors and opportunities. These are integral elements that influence the decision making process (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2013). When making decisions, leaders must comprehend that there are both advantages and disadvantages in each decision they make. For example, standing by their moral values, a loan officer may decline approval for a $10 million dollar loan to a subsidiary of a tobacco company because of their personal views on promoting deadly products. The advantage of this decision is that it supports that individual’s moral principles. This decision portrays an individual that has adopted an idealistic kind of approach in the way they conduct business, in that they have embraced special idealist values and applies them to help make decisions that reflect a socially responsible form of business practice. Because their views are not part of corporate policy, the disadvantage of this decision is that the client went to competitors instead and secured a loan. In short, the choices were ethical to the individual, but resulted in a huge profit loss for the corporation.

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When leaders engage in important decisions, they must also consider both the ethical and legal aspects of the situation to make the most effective decisions. Ferrell et al. (2013) suggest that an individual’s locus of control influences their behavior. Their studies deduced that people who believe their destiny is controlled by others are usually not as ethical as those who believe they control their own destiny (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2013). For example, CEO’s and other top level executives are in a position of power and control for both the short and long term destiny of the company. Each want to make the best decision that is in alignment with the ethical culture of the corporation as well as their own. Ethical decisions include such things as deciding who to conduct business with and whether profits are more significant than outcomes and social responsibilities. By choosing to do business with people that are distributing and manufacturing products or services that bring harm and death to others, leaders must not only face the ethical issues involved but the legal ramifications as well. For example, by selling tobacco products outside the US where restrictions are less binding, a manager is essentially supporting profits over the welfare of innocent people. Corporations are entities and therefore do not experience feelings for people, however, the leaders and managers with families of their own, tend to feel a sense of moral obligation to protect humanity regardless of color or race. Even though a corporation is an entity that does not have feelings, it can still feel the ramifications should legal action be taken against the corporation in the future by victims for intentionally selling merchandise that causes harm from the addictive and toxic additives that are included in their products.

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Most people rely on their own principles to resolve moral issues on a day to day basis. Every leader has significant ethical and legal issues to consider that rely on the organizational culture and the moral philosophies they adapt to help in the decision making process. For example, leaders whose decisions are based on a philosophy known as virtue ethics can make decisions that turn down large profits because their choices are dictated in accordance with that individual’s ideals and the sense of morality that individual develops from their own character which tend to consist of good morals and mature perspectives. Other executives reject deals to sell products that harm consumers because of a deontological moral philosophy which is based on preserving individual rights and the intent to remain steadfast to those beliefs. A corporation on the other hand, is an entity and only interested in end results: profits. Therefore, corporations tend to fall under the teleological view of moral philosophy with focus on achieving end results that benefits all. Regardless of moral philosophy, all decision makers must carefully consider the legal parameters involved as well to avoid violations and harsh penalties.

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In conclusion, leaders want to perform at optimum levels and corporations want to enjoy success. However, as the global market continues to expand, executives, together with their corporations, are taking more measures to incorporate commitment to product integrity and social responsibility. Boatright (2009) contend that a distinguishing aspect of business is its economic character because relationships are based on economics and profit (Boatright, 2009). The bottom line is that leaders have discovered making decisions that are socially responsible is just a good way of doing business in the modern era. Corporations that behave as a tool for change, hire leaders that are motivated to make decisions in alignment with ethical policies. They are conscious of making decisions that do not create harmful outcomes to their stakeholders or the environment. Leaders and corporations whose basic tenets display socially responsible practices like recycling, adopting environmentally conscious policies, incorporate transparency in their operations, and are mindful of how their business generates profits, build trust and confidence from primary and secondary stakeholders which ultimately contributes to the overall success of that organization.

References:

Boatright, J. (2009). Ethics and the Conduct of Business (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell. (2013). Business ethics and social responsibility (9th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Resolving Ethical Business Challenges

Published July 3, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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As a rule, most people have a set of values and principles that help guide them throughout their lives. As an individual becomes educated and because of life’s experiences, however, these rules can change, evolve, and are adapted to help make sense to our own perceptions of reality. Blackburn (2001) contended that human beings in general are ethical animals who judge, evaluate, compare, admire, make claims, and justify their actions (Blackburn, 2001). Leaders therefore, must draw from their own principles and values to help them make the best decision for the organization they represent.

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Laws are created to enforce rules and regulations so that there is a model in which citizens can shape their behavior and choices. For example, stop signs at small intersections communicate traffic laws to help people avoid harm. Ng’s (2012) research purports that laws provide a starting point and offer the minimum standards to help individuals understand proper and improper behavior. However, these laws are inherently different from morality issues (Ng, 2012). For example, it is not illegal to engage in extra marital affairs, but society deems that this behavior is morally wrong. Morality is considered a society’s norms and values. Ethics consequently is the identification and analysis of moral values and how they are applicable in any given situation. In a business arena, although personal ethics can help guide decision makers – leaders and managers face many issues that require both knowledge and wisdom to help them to analyze the ethical and legal aspects of a situation. Employers must use their personal judgment based on their own moral values and principles to make the best decision for their organization. For instance, although adding the element of nudity to a gaming environment is not illegal, the moral issues leaders may face in this kind of situation is whether their market is able to embrace the new element. Although leaders may not have an issue with nudity, many people in the online gaming community do, for a variety of reasons.  This aspect must also be taken into consideration as part of the decision making process because it can affect the level of revenue on an already established product. A wrong decision can affect the future success of an organization and the people who rely on the company for their livelihoods.

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As each situation rises, employers face making decisions on an ethical course of action they can rely on and in some degree must pull from the rules of right conduct they employ in everyday life. Boatright (2009) suggested managers need to identify the appropriate level for a decision because ethical problems may have no solution on the level at which they are approached (Boatright, 2009). In other words, sometimes ethical problems can be solved only by displacing them to a different level because some difficult situations cause distress that can only be resolved by looking at some less than perfect response from a lower level. For example, as a survivor of abuse, when I first entered the workforce as a teenager, I did so from a place of low self-esteem and self-efficacy. At that time, I did not have the tools to make the best choices when questionable situations arose with respect to issues of morality. Because I was conditioned to respond from a place of “survival” rather than knowledge and wisdom, I did not have the training to make the best choices. In some cases, rather than do the right thing and report the unethical situations, because of job security I remained silent. However, as I matured and received higher levels of education, I developed healthier levels of self-efficacy. When unethical situations arise now, I am one of the first to expose the situation to help bring about positive change.

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Employers that embrace a Utilitarian approach to ethics with the mindset that the “behavior justifies the means to an end” set themselves up as separatists and create situations that can result in a fatal disaster the kind the Enron community faced. In that situation, executives believed that in order to continue creating high levels of profit, their illegal and immoral behavior was justified because of their utilitarian views. Ferrell et al. (2013) remind us that values are used to help develop norms that are socially accepted and include integrity, accountability and trust (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2013). These are examples of values that help guide people to make better decisions, which in turn build trust from employees, consumers, shareholders, and the public. By adopting high levels of ethics and moral values, people live better lives based on respect, gratitude, and appreciation, while taking responsibility for their actions. In the long run, organizations that adopt ethical practices experience higher levels of success. That in itself is reason enough to engage in a code of ethics that embrace best practice policies.

References:

Blackburn, S. (2001). Ethics: a very short introduction. New York, NY: Oxford Press.

Boatright, J. (2009). Ethics and the Conduct of Business (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell. (2013). Business ethics and social responsibility (9th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Ng, T. (2012). Business ethics and sustainability. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Obiter Dicta.

Business Ethics and Social Responsibility

Published July 1, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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The next six weeks my research work is focused on Business Ethics and Social Responsibility.  In the business world, law and ethics create the guidelines that help govern corporate operations. The negotiating process is complex because all incumbents want to win. Boatright (2009) contended that the law tends to prevail in the public arena, whereas ethics is considered more of a private matter. In other words, laws that are clearly defined establish a set of enforceable rules that corporate bosses must adhere to, while matters of an ethical nature are based on personal opinion, moral values and principles (Boatright, 2009). For example, in one case study, an ethics issue transpired when a leader and his colleagues were faced with adding adult content to a popular social networking game their company produced. The game was played in a forum where a considerable amount of minors had access to from their online web browser. The ethical issue they faced was whether it was moral to expose gaming products to include adult issues like sex, violence, and gambling, to a community that consists of people who are under the legal age.

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An individual’s principles plays a big part in the decision making process. Ferrell et al. (2013) contend that principles are based on the values people develop as norms that are widely accepted socially, like accountability, authenticity, trustworthiness, and honor (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2013). The leader in the social networking game case was faced with a decision that included adding an aspect that implemented full nudity to a section of one of their popular games. In this highly competitive market, their company enjoyed enormous success. His dilemma was based on whether he felt comfortable introducing this aspect of the game to the US market and whether he believed that market was ready to embrace it in their gaming forum. In addition, the stakes were high because the consequences could have a dire effect on the company’s revenues which in turn would affect the many employees whose jobs were at stake if the decision turned out detrimental.

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Business leaders and managers must consider more than just the legal aspects involved in the decision making process. According to Boatright (2009), many corporate bosses have discovered that reliance on the law alone can prove to be disastrous (Boatright, 2009). In Karl’s situation, although the commercial use of sex, violence, and gambling are accepted in the US, it is only accepted in markets that are clearly identified for mature audiences. Adding this new element to a successfully established product introduces restrictions to their marketplace. There are however, countries where sex, violence, and gambling are more widely accepted, but even those markets have established clearly defined parameters. The question the leader faced in this case study was whether to include the nudity, which is destined to change their share of the market place without having conducted extensive market research or created focus groups to test it out. On the other hand this new strategy may open other markets on a global level where the restrictions are less binding. His best bet is to identify where the majority of the profits are being generated. For example, if the US holds the larger portion of the market share, he may wish to consider keeping them happy, and slowly introduce the mature version in other markets outside the US to see how the product fares. Once he has gathered data from the screening process, he will have a better indication of what aspects other markets are responding to, and puts him in a better place to make an effective decision. In conclusion, because of the wide diversity in beliefs, morals, and principles that vary from country to country, what some consider immoral in one country, may be perfectly natural to others from another region. Leaders need to determine the culture of the territory they wish to market their products to assure it does not conflict with the legal and ethical values of that region and in turn, organizations can continue to enjoy success without losing integrity.

References:

Boatright, J. (2009). Ethics and the Conduct of Business (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell. (2013). Business ethics and social responsibility (9th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Ferrell, O., & Fraedrich, J. (2012). Business ethics: Ethical decision making (9th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western College Publishing.

Knowledge Management

Published May 3, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Most experts agree that knowledge management is not utilized to its fullest potential in many organizations.  The ability to respond quickly to changes in the marketplace and recognizing opportunities has become an important competitive advantage.  Hanley’s (2003) research asserts that knowledge management must be considered as a prerequisite, for it has become a significant component and more visible in the balance sheets that reveal the financial worth of organizations.  The asset of knowledge management has the power to deliver organizational success in a variety of ways including: (a) the reduction of cycle time, (b) the improvement of quality, (c) lowered costs, (d) increased organizational learning, and (e) improved core competencies (Haney, 2003).  In other words, knowledge management is important to the success of organizations because acquiring and processing information increases situational understanding, helps to identify and analyze relationships, and enables higher quality decision making.

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Knowledge Management Components

Some organizational leaders believe that a huge investment in information technology will bring about higher quality decisions, only to discover that the delivery and presentation of said technology shows very little improvement in knowledge generation for decision making.  Leaders in this case fail to recognize that factors identified in the decision making process encompass more than the process of base technological usage.  It also includes the following influential components: (a) the organizational culture, (b) the organizational processes, and (c) the compensation and reward systems that have been established in the firm.  Organizations with knowledge exploiting capabilities are known as knowledge intensive firms because they have implemented an organizational system that efficiently manages and uses information effectively to stimulate organizational learning.  For example, one aspect of knowledge management amalgamates organizational information in a manner that produces value by generating new intellectual property (Ward, 2006).  Organizations that do not apply knowledge management strategies can hinder organizational development and productivity.

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Knowledge Management Programs

Effective leaders and management teams comprehend that information increases situational understanding.  Hsieh (2007) postulates that knowledge management in organizations must consider three viewpoints: (a) a business view that focuses on the why, where, and to what extent the company must invest in or exploit information – including which strategies, products and services, alliances, or acquisitions or divestments should be considered from a knowledge based perspective; (b) a managerial view that is centered on determining, organizing, directing, and monitoring knowledge related activities that will help achieve business goals; and (c) a hands-on operational viewpoint that focuses on applying professional skills to manage explicit knowledge-based operation.  Knowledge management programs should include strategies and vehicles to help enable and identify the organizational direction and facilitate effective activities to help achieve those desired outcomes (Hsieh, 2007). The use of technology, organizational systems, and socialization are three examples of how knowledge management programs can be implemented in organizations to foster higher quality decision making that can affect their development and productivity.

Technology – One knowledge management program that leaders employ is the use of technology.  Researchers observe that the three common technologies utilized the most for knowledge management are e-mail, virtual face-to-face conversations, and the use of databases.  These systems can help manage knowledge as both formal and informal processes and exists at all levels: divisional, departmental, team, and individual.  For example, with communication and computer technology, personnel expertise is documented and shared within a company at unprecedented speed and efficiency.

Organizational Systems – Another example of how organizations apply knowledge management consists of the different processes and coordinated systems they execute. For instance various forms, reports, spreadsheets, and other procedures can be used to track activity and progress. This information collection process identifies strengths and weaknesses as well as progress towards outcomes.

Socialization – Finally, one of the most successful knowledge management strategies that organizations employ is social interaction. These face-to-face interactions occur at all levels and in a variety of ways, often intertwined in the production and administrative processes and include: (a) debriefing new members, (b) debriefing returning members, (c) classroom training, (d) luncheons, (e) project team meetings, (f) working with external experts on a project, (g) team conversation, and (h) informal conversations (Haney, 2003). An organization’s climate must include a system that encourages socialization as a means to stimulate staff interaction and knowledge sharing.

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Conclusion

Knowledge management is the key to the survival for any organization.  A collaborative culture that values trust and offers incentives opens opportunities for knowledgeable individuals to share information freely.  Executive leadership that does not implement and support knowledge management systems will most likely experience difficulty governing a productive and efficient organization. Most experts agree that the main constraints to knowledge management are incompetent employers, ineffective strategies, and poorly designed structures.  Organizations that foster a culture which provides support for an effective knowledge management program will experience higher levels of success, growth, and profitability in the marketplace.

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References

Haney, D. (2003). Knowledge management in a professional service firm. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Ann Arbor, IN, USA: ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/305334057?accountid=32521

Hsieh, H.-J. (2007). Organizational characteristics, knowledge management strategy, enablers, and process capability: Knowledge management performance in US software companies. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Ann Arbor, MI, USA. Retrieved April 18, 2012, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304700978?accountid=3252

Ward, T. (2006). Implementing knowledge management to support effective decision making in a joint military environment: Key enablers and obstacles. Minneapolis, MN, USA: ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304910517?accountid=32521

Entrepreneurial Decision Making

Published March 15, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Introduction

Decision making is an essential part of entrepreneurship that affects numerous elements in operating a business. It is in an entrepreneur’s best interests to possess the skills to help them reach the best decisions available to insure the soundest opportunity for success. Low (2010) contends entrepreneurs play an important role in the economy with three major components that affect their decision making process: (a) the vision and operation of the venture; (b) the uncertainty and risks they confront; and (c) the innovation process or reallocation of resources (Low, 2010, p. 5). In addition, incorporating the necessary business acumen can: 1) influence political agendas; 2) help avoid violation of legal and regulatory issues that can yield outcomes with extreme consequences; 3) play an important role in cultural perceptions; 4) influence the demographic diversity of an industry; and 5) have a huge impact on the financial resources that affects the operation of a business.

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Demographic Diversity

A proprietor’s decision making process can also effect the demographic diversity of an organization. For example, when Virgin Company’s entrepreneurial giant, Sir Richard Branson (2012) was contemplating whether Virgin branch out to launch a new airline, he was advised to avoid certain competitors due to costs and for fear of going up against industry giants. He realized he was up against goliaths with sizable fleets, experienced staff, and strengths from holding huge portions of market share.  Branson’s intuition however, and personal grievances from traveling, kept focused on competitor complacency. He was passionate about creating a better flying experience and knew others felt the same.  With this energy and tunnel vision, Virgin Atlantic was introduced and made their mark in history (Branson, 2012).

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Legal and Regulatory Issues

Each year the US Supreme Court issues actions that constitute new litigation due to failed businesses because of gaps in legal insight in the decision-making process by leaders (Bardwell, 2009). For example, during my employment at Capitol Records, the organization expanded into the music video production market and created a new division called Picture Music International (PMI). This event constituted the rearrangement of senior executives in key positions who were disbursed in helm positions within the structural organization. The changes occurred quickly in an attempt to create a smooth transition while maintaining operations. As a result, important components were overlooked and errors were made due to communication barriers from the rapid transit.  In the process, a contractual renewal date for an important artist went undetected. The new senior executive did not negotiate the original contract and was therefore not cognizant of the issue. The artist’s legal representatives allowed the contract to expire and the artist signed to a competitive label. Because of the gap in legal insight, the oversight resulted in the forfeiture of a major industry player, and in the eyes of the shareholders, perceived as an embarrassing loss.

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Political Agendas and Cultural Perceptions

Steyaert (2000) purports the role of entrepreneurship in the modern era is far larger than previously considered and is closely involved with economics.  Entrepreneurship is viewed as an economic phenomenon, with innovative power that extends beyond its own economic ambitions and requires the examination of its political and ethical effects (Steyaert, 2000). For example, when a firm is exposed for polluting, activists use this opportunity to pursue political agendas.  In the meantime, scholars explore factors that determine how entrepreneurs help economies grow as a result of psychological approaches to an enterprise (Thornton, Robeiro-Soriano, & Urbano, 2011). Take for example the culture Starbucks created. Prior to its genesis, Americans were used to having coffee in diners or restaurants for under a dollar.  Starbucks vision focused on drinking coffee as a reason to socialize. In doing so they created a culture where consumers are happy to pay premium prices to partake in the Starbucks experience. This culture translates into enormous profits and a worldwide phenomenon that includes a Starbuckian dialect.

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Financial Resources

Financial advisors understand that cash flow is also an important component business owners require to make sound financial decisions to ensure growth and survival. A company with solid liquidity is not only able to meet short term financial obligations, but also has accumulated enough equity to take advantage of alluring business strategies as they expand (Cory, Envick, & Patton, 2011). For example, with each success Capitol Records enjoyed from an extensive catalog that includes the Beatles, Neil Diamond, Tina Turner, David Bowie and Kenny Rogers, UK based parent company, Thorn-EMI continued to incur huge revenues that allowed them to expand into other fields. However, for every successful venture, there are also ventures that fail and become corporate tax write-offs. In this aspect, the decision making process can result in failure and loss of revenue.

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Conclusion

Sir Richard offers the following tips that have helped in his decision making: (a) trust your instincts, (b) focus on your customers, not your critics, (c) always support your team, and (d) know when to say goodbye (Branson, 2012). In conclusion, the most important reason decision making is an essential skill for entrepreneurship, is that a wrong choice can become the game changer that makes or breaks an organization.

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References

Bardwell, S. (2009, January 1). Legal insight decision making for small business and entrepreneurs: A judicious approach. Retrieved February 28, 2013, from Freepatentsonline: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/Entrepreneurial-Executive/219010996.html

Branson, R. (2012, February 7). Richard Branson on decision-making for entrepreneurs. Retrieved February 28, 2013, from Entrepreneur.com: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/222739

Cory, S., Envick, B., & Patton, E. (2011, January 1). Sound financial decision making for entrepreneurs: can the GAAP cash flow statement mislead? Entrepreneurial executive. US: The DreamCatchers Group, LLC. Retrieved February 28, 2013, from http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/Entrepreneurial-Executive/263157521.html

Low, S. (2010). Defining and measuring entrepreneurship for regional research: A new approach. ProQuest dissertations and theses; 2009; ProQuest entrepreneurship. Urbana, IL, USA: ProQuest LLC. Retrieved February 28, 2013

Steyaert, C. (2000, June 18). Creating worlds: Political agendas of entrepreneurship. Nordic conference on small business research. Aarhus, Denmark: ProQuest, LLC. Retrieved February 28 2013, 2013

Thornton, P., Robeiro-Soriano, D., & Urbano, D. (2011). Socio-cultural factors and entrepreneurial activity: An overview. International small business journal. Barcelona, Spain: Sage. Retrieved February 28, 2013