Ethics at Work pp 183-234 | Cite as

The Moral Organisation

  • Barbara Goodwin
Part of the Issues in Business Ethics book series (IBET, volume 16)


What makes a ‘moral organisation’ is a vexed question, which I approached through the attitudes of the participants in my study to their employers. I asked a series of questions covering whether the organisation had a responsible attitude to its stakeholders; whether the organisation was concerned with moral issues; whether it worked well, internally, what the risks were for the organisation and whether it had taken precautions against such risks. Although the question about internal operations elicited some answers which are more relevant to management policy than to ethical questions, those answers show that some prima facie operational issues, such as treatment of staff, have an ethical dimension which the organisations may need to address when striving for improvement. Section 1 describes the responses to these questions. Section 2 considers the recent organisational fashion for empowerment of staff and its ethical consequences and Section 3 discusses the value of procedures as guarantors of ethical conduct. Section 4 returns to the more general question of what makes an organisation moral. There will be some recapitulation of points made in earlier chapters in the context of this discussion of organisations.


Local Government Customer Service Responsible Attitude Moral Dilemma Water Company 
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  1. 27.
    Robert Bruce, The Times, 11.5.95.Google Scholar
  2. 28.
    This discussion is based on my chapter (1999) Empowerment in a government agency in J.J. Quinn and P.W.F. Davies (eds.) (1999) Ethics and Empowerment, Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 300–325.Google Scholar
  3. 29.
    The sceptical approach to empowerment is exemplified in J. Kaler, Does empowerment empower? in Quinn & Davies op. cit., pp. 90–114. For another subtle and interesting analysis, see Tuckman (1995).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Goodwin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of East AngliaNorwichUK
  2. 2.Henley Management CollegeUK

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