HEC Forum

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 287-297

First online:

The Pre-conditions for “Building Capacity” in an Ethics Program

  • Ann E. MillsAffiliated withProgram in Ethics and Policy, Center for Biomedical Ethics, University of Virginia Email author 
  • , Mary V. RortyAffiliated withMember Ethics Consultation Service, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Stanford University Medical Center

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Most organizations and/or their sub-units like ethics programs want to acquire the knowledge, skills and other resources needed to achieve their goals efficiently and effectively. Thus, they want to acquire or develop needed “capacity.” But there are pre-conditions to building capacity that are often overlooked or forgotten, but which nevertheless, must be in place before capacity can be developed. This essay identifies these pre-conditions and discusses why they are necessary before attempts are made to enhance the capacity of any ethics program. The essay closes by offering a series of questions that ethics program leaders/and or members can asked themselves to assess whether or not these pre-conditions exist.


Ethics programs Mental models Ethical climate Culture Relationships