The Central Role of Values
in Ethical Decision Making
The concepts of value and value system are among the very few social psychological concepts that have been successfully employed across all social science disciplines. Anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, and organizational and individual psychologists are all accustomed to speak meaningfully about values and values systems at different levels—cultural values, societal and institutional values, organizational and corporate values, and individual values. …
—Milton Rokeach and Sandra Ball-Rokeach
Suppose that, as an organizational consultant, you receive a request from a manufacturing company to conduct an attitude survey for the company. Knowing something about the dynamics and pitfalls of organizational consultation, you spend considerable time up front talking with key managers and other potential stakeholders so that you can consider their expectations and objectives for the survey in designing its implementation. The senior managers reveal nothing particularly surprising: They seem to have a genuine concern for employee relations and would like help in identifying the company's strengths and weaknesses so they can build on the strengths and, to the extent possible, correct or improve the weaknesses. No problem.
Further suppose, however, that the management of this company has privately learned—without revealing it to you or acknowledging it publicly—that in the coming year the company is to be the target of an organizing drive by a national labor union and that the purpose of the survey