Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 16, Issue 10, pp 977–999 | Cite as

Organized Complexity in Human Affairs: The Tobacco Industry

  • David A. Bella
Article

Abstract

How do we explain organized complexity in human affairs? The most common model explain s human organization as the outcome of rational design; order in human affairs arises from the intentions, plans, and orders of those in charge. For organizational complexity on vast scales, this model is insufficient, misleading, and potentially disastrous. An alternative model, based upon self-organization within complex systems, is developed and applied to the tobacco industry.

Leaked documents and public testimony point to widespread distortion of information within the tobacco industry. The model developed herein describes such behaviors as emergent outcomes, not reducible to or sufficiently explained by individual fraud and deliberate deceit. Critics of the tobacco industry often fail to appreciate the role of self-organization in complex systems. They presume rational design. Consequently, they imply more intentional deceit, deliberate planning, and conspiracy than needed to explain the distortions that actually occurred.

The tobacco industry expresses general phenomena found in many large-scale human systems. This paper describes such phenomena and examines their moral implications.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Barnet, R. J. and J. Cavanah: 1994, Global Dreams, Imperial Corporations and the New World Order (Touchstone, New York).Google Scholar
  2. Bella, D. A.: 1987, ‘Organizations and Systemic Distortion of Information’, Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering 113, 360–370.Google Scholar
  3. Bella, D. A.: 1992, ‘The System and the Citizenry: Eisenhower's Warning’, in G. B. Walker, D. A. Bella and S. J. Sprecher (eds.), The Military Industrial Complex (Peter Lang, New York), pp. 57–97.Google Scholar
  4. Bella, D. A.: 1994, ‘Organizational Systems and the Burden of Proof’, Pacific Salmon and Their Ecosystems: Status and Future Options (January, proceedings in press) (University of Washington, Seattle, WA).Google Scholar
  5. Bella, D. A.: 1995, In the System but Not of It: Spirit lessons from American Slavery (Luther House, 211 N. W. 23rd St., Corvallis, OR 97330).Google Scholar
  6. Bellah, R. W., R. Madsen, W. M. Sullivan, A. Swidler and S. M. Tipon: 1985, Habits of the Heart (Harper and Row, New York).Google Scholar
  7. Bero, P., D. E. Barnes, P. Hanauer, J. Slade and S. A. Glantz: 1995, ‘Lawyer Control of the Tobacco Industry's External Research Program’, Journal of the American Medical Association 274(3), 241–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Butler, E.: 1983, Hayek (Universe Books, New York).Google Scholar
  9. Collins, G.: 1995, ‘Tobacco Road Still Beckons on Wall St.’, The New Times (August 10), p. C1.Google Scholar
  10. Crawford, V. L.: 1995, ‘Cancer Converts Tobacco Lobbyist: Victor L. Crawford Goes on the Record’, The Journal of the American Medical Association 274(3), 199–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eisenhower, D. D.: 1961a, ‘Farewell Radio and Television Address to the American People’, Public Papers of the Presidents (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC), pp. 1035–1040.Google Scholar
  12. Eisenhower, D. D.: 1961b, ‘The President's News Conference of January 18, 1961’, Public Papers of the Presidents’ (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC), p. 1045.Google Scholar
  13. Elliott, S.: 1995, ‘Uncle Sam is No Match for the Marlboro Man’, The New York Times (August 27), p. C1.Google Scholar
  14. Evans, N., A. Farkus, E. Gilpin, C. Berry and J. P. Price: 1995, ‘Influence of Tobacco Marketing and Exposure to Smokers on Adolescent Susceptibility to Smoking’, Journal of the National Cancer Institute 87(20), 1538–1545.Google Scholar
  15. Feder, B. J.: 1996, ‘Scientists Contradict Company on Nicotine’, The New York Times (March 19), p. A12.Google Scholar
  16. Freeman, A. M.: 1995, ‘Tobacco Firm Shows How Ammonia Spurs Delivery of Nicotine’, The Wall Street Journal (October 18), p. A1.Google Scholar
  17. Freeman, A. M.: 1996, ‘Former Philip Morris Scientist Tells FDA Company Knew Nicotine Acts Like Drug’, The Wall Street Journal (March 18), p. A3.Google Scholar
  18. Freeman, A. M. and L. P. Cohen: 1993, ‘How Cigarette Makers Keep Health Questions “Open” Year After Year’, The Wall Street Journal (February 11), p. A1.Google Scholar
  19. Graham, T.: 1995, ‘The Brown and Williamson Documents, The Company's Response’, Journal of the American Medical Association 274(3), 254–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hanaucer, P., J. Slade, D. E. Barnes, L. Bero and S. A. Glantz: 1995, ‘Lawyer Control of Internal Scientific Research to Protect Against Product Liability Lawsuits’, Journal of the American Medical Association 274(3), 234–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hayek, F. A.: 1988, The Fatal Conceit (University of Chicago Press, Chicago).Google Scholar
  22. Jackall, R. 1988, Moral Mazes, The World of Corporate Managers (Oxford University Press, New York).Google Scholar
  23. Kauffman, S. A.: 1991, ‘Antichaos and Adaptation’, Scientific American 265(2), 78–84.Google Scholar
  24. Kauffman, S. A.: 1993, The Origins of Order (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  25. Kershaw, S.: 1995, ‘Teenagers Scoff at Ban on Tobacco for Youths’, The New York Times (August 11), p. A10.Google Scholar
  26. Prigogine, I. and I. Stengers: 1984, Order Out of Chaos (Bantam Books, Toronto, Canada).Google Scholar
  27. Proctor, R. N.: 1995, Cancer Wars (Basic Books, New York).Google Scholar
  28. Rabe, G. A.: and M. D. Erman: 1995, ‘Corporate Concealment of Tobacco Hazards: Changing Motives and Historical Contexts’, Deviant Behavior 16, 223–244.Google Scholar
  29. Reich, R. B.: 1990, ‘Introduction’, in R. Reich (ed.), The Power of Public Ideas (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, USA), pp. 1–12.Google Scholar
  30. Rosenblatt, R.: 1995, ‘How Tobacco Executives Live With Themselves’, Business and Society Review 89 (Spring), 22–34.Google Scholar
  31. Simon, H.: 1976, Administrative Behavior (The Free Press, New York).Google Scholar
  32. Stock, G.: 1993, Metaman: The Merging of Humans and Machines into a Global Superorganism (Simon and Schuster, New York).Google Scholar
  33. U.S. Commission: 1986, Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC).Google Scholar
  34. U.S. House: 1994a, ‘Committee on Energy and Commerce’, Hearings on the Regulation of Tobacco Products 103rd Congress, Part 1. (March 25 and April 14).Google Scholar
  35. U.S. House: 1994b, ‘Committee on Energy and Commerce’, Hearings on the Regulation of Tobacco Products, 103rd Congress, Part 2 (May 17 and 26.Google Scholar
  36. U.S. House: 1994c, ‘Committee on Energy and Commerce’, Hearings on the Regulation of Tobacco Products, 103rd congress, Part 3 (June 21 and 23).Google Scholar
  37. Vaughn, D.: 1990, Complexity (Simon and Schuster, New York).Google Scholar
  38. Wheatley, M. J.: 1992, Leadership and the New Science (Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco).Google Scholar
  39. Wiener, J.: 1996, ‘The Cigarette Papers’, The Nation 262(1) (January 1), pp. 11–18.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Bella
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringOregon State UniversityCorvallis

Personalised recommendations