A Conceptual Model for the Ethical Management of Technology: An Organizational Perspective

By Melvin Blumberg and Refik Culpan.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper provides a conceptual model for examining and enhancing the ethical management of technology within an organizational setting. We argue that the apparently disparate definitions of technology--tools, machines, techniques, and processes, are not mutually exclusive, but are actually components of a larger whole--a technical system. A key theme of this paper is that it is not so much technology itself that is in need of management, but rather the increases in technically-required interdependence, uncertainty, and environmental dynamics created as the technology is organized to create a useful system. After suggesting that a technical system is best managed by a properly organized social system, we examine the relationships among ethical principles, moral practices, and ethical outcomes. Seven approaches to ethical decision making, viz., altruism, virtues, human rights, utilitarianism, duty, common good,
and egoism are briefly reviewed and ordered into a logical progression by means of Kohlberg's theory of moral development. We posit that ethical leadership and ethical climates are necessary for the continuing ethical development of employees beyond levels held at their entry into a work organization. The model is then used to suggest how organizational participants interacting by means of social systems use and control technology through ethical choice processes. Also considered briefly is the impact of strategic-level decisions in the organic and mechanistic organizational forms. Implications for managerial practice are provided along with propositions for further research.

Keywords: Ethical Management, Management of Technology, Ethical Decision Making in Business Organizations, Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development, Organizational Form and Ethical Behavior, Socio-technical Systems.

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.99-108. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 564.784KB).

Dr. Melvin Blumberg

Professor of Management, School of Business Administration, The Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg, Middletown, Pennsylvania, USA

Melvin Blumberg is Professor of Management in the School of Business Administration, Penn State Harrisburg, Middletown, Pennsylvania, USA. He holds the Ph.D. degree in Organizational Behavior from The Pennsylvania State University, the MBA from the University of Pittsburgh, and the Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Widener University. His research interests include job and work design, ethical management of technology, individual and organizational performance, and socio-technical systems. Following a 12-year business career in engineering management, and marketing support services, Dr. Blumberg served Penn State Harrisburg from 1985 until 1991 as Director of the School of Business Administration. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he is a Senior Research Scientist for the Center for Quality of Working Life, and a faculty member of the Center for Management of Technology and Organizational Change. Dr. Blumberg's current research interests include the impacts of technological change and innovation on organizational design, structuring, and work performance, and on the implementation of mergers and acquisitions. Dr. Blumberg's work has appeared in the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Journal of Manufacturing Systems, Journal of Occupational Behavior, Personnel, Penn State Dickinson Law Review, and SAM Advanced Management Journal. He has also contributed to book chapters on technological innovation and management. Dr. Blumberg served for four years as an Examiner for the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award. Among others, Dr. Blumberg is a member of the Academy of Management, American Psychological Association, and American Society for Quality.

Dr Refik Culpan

Professor of Management and International Business, School of Business Administration, The Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg, Middletown, Pennsylvania, USA

Dr. Refik Culpan is Professor of Management and International Business in the School of Business Administration, The Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg. He holds a Ph.D. from New York University and M.P.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. He teaches management, strategic management, and international business at both graduate and undergraduate levels, and in the online MBA program at of Penn State's World Campus. He is a frequent lecturer, and conducts seminars in many countries throughout the world. Dr. Culpan was the recipient of Founders Day Award from New York University, and the Best Teacher Award from the Penn State University at Harrisburg. In addition to his academic experience, he had been Board Chairman and CEO of two banks in Turkey. Professor Culpan is the author of three books and numerous articles in academic journals including the Journal of Business Research, Management International Review, Thunderbird International Review, and Business and Cotemporary World. His recent book, Global Business Alliances: Theory and Practice, has been translated into Chinese. He is a member of the Academy of Management, Eastern Academy of Management, Academy of International Business, and Decision Sciences Institute.


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