Essay on A Summary of Robert Jackall's Moral Mazes

2230 Words Dec 26th, 2015 9 Pages
A summary of Robert Jackall’s Moral Mazes
The theme of this work is that managers constantly adapt to the social environments of their organisations in order to succeed. In such contexts, they have no use for abstract ethical principles, but conform to the requirements of bureaucratic functionality. What implications follow for the ethical leader in business?
Jackall found that managers assess their decisions against contextual criteria.
Essentially, managers try to gauge whether they feel “comfortable” with proposed resolutions to specific problems, a task that always involves an assessment of others’ organisational morality and a reckoning of the practical organisational and market exigencies at hand. The notion of comfort has many
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They become ... the potential ‘fall guys’ when things go wrong. (p.20-21)
Credit usually flows up in this structure and is usually appropriated by the highest ranking officer involved in a successful decision ... A subordinate whose ideas are appropriated is expected to be a good sport about the matter ... The person who appropriates credit redistributes it as he chooses, bound essentially only by public perceptions of his fairness. One gives credit, therefore, not necessarily where it is due ... but where prudence dictates. (p.21) The CEO’s ‘word is law’. Jackall quotes one middle level manager, “Every big organization is set up for the benefit of those who control it; the boss gets what he wants.” (p.36) “What is right in the corporation is not what is right in a man’s home or in his church. What is right in the corporation is what the guy above you wants from you. That’s what morality is in the corporation.” Jackall’s view is that high sounding moral principles do not matter much in the daily functioning of the corporation or organisation. What shapes organisational morality are such factors as “proximity to the market, line or staff responsibilities, or one’s position in the hierarchy”. (p.6)
Organisations are more than places of work. “.. the

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