Business Review - “Amoral Management”

Apr 1, 2021

Matt Quade shares how employees make moral decision in the workplace and what happens when amoral decision are being made from the top. 

WHEN EMPLOYEES ARE FACED WITH A MORAL DECISION IN THE WORKPLACE, THEY LOOK TO THEIR LEADERS ON HOW TO RESPOND.  MATTHEW QUADE, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MANAGEMENT, SHARES WHAT HAPPENS WHEN LEADERS DO NOT CLEARLY DISCUSS ETHICS WITH THEIR EMPLOYEES AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF AMORAL MANAGEMENT.

“What we find is that amoral management, this lack of leader responsiveness to the goal situations has a negative effect on employees, specifically in the form of decreased moral courage, and then subsequent increased unethical behavior. So an example could be having to turn down something that offered from a 

client or a customer because you know that it would produce a conflict of interest that would be detrimental to yourself or to the organization.”

QUAD’S RESEARCH SHOWS THAT WHEN SUPERVISORS ARE NOT GIVING ETHICAL GUIDANCE, EMPLOYEES ARE LEFT TO THEIR OWN DEVICES TO MAKE TOUGH DECISIONS.  THE LACK OF MORAL COURAGE ULTIMATELY RESULTS IN INCREASED UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR.  SINCE EMPLOYEES GET MOST OF THEIR MORAL GUIDANCE FROM THEIR DIRECT SUPERVISOR, IT IS IMPERITIVE FOR ORGAINIZATIONS TO HIRE AND TRAIN ETHICAL LEADERS.

“So some key steps to prevent amoral management is to make sure that leaders in particular, supervisors in particular know that amoral management is not acceptable, that they need to have clear standards and guidance for their employees when it comes to the moral and ethical expectations that the organization has for those employees.  So being really clear from the top down I think helps really both sides. It helps the organization identify people who want to join that organization because there's alignment of values and beliefs, and that it helps employees realize which organizations would be a better fit for them as they're exploring different career opportunities.”

THE BUSINESS REVIEW IS A PRODUCTION OF LIVINGSTON & MCKAY, AND THE HANKAMER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY.