Presentation on theme: "The Professional in the Middle Thomas Donlin-Smith, Professor of Religious Studies."— Presentation transcript:
The Professional in the Middle Thomas Donlin-Smith, Professor of Religious Studies
The Professional in the Middle Professionals operate within a complex web of relationships
Professionals have relationships with (i.e., obligations to)... Employing institution Superiors within the institution Subordinates within the institution Peers within the institution Ones profession & professional peers Clients Competitors The public, the government Self and ones family God
Complexity of living in the web Each relationship brings its own moral questions Conflicts of loyalty among the relationships Metaphors and bureaucratic structures shape how we experience these relationships
The moral challenges of supervision Tendency of professionals to be under- prepared for supervisory responsibilities
The moral challenges of relating to peers What to do about incompetent or corrupt professional peers?
Relating to superiors and employers (loyalty) Most commonly reported area of professional ethics concern. See Dilberts pointy-haired boss from Hell
Relating to superiors and employers Professionals in large organizations Loss of traditional autonomy The difficulty of being simultaneously a responsible, autonomous pro & a loyal employee. Loyalty to employer is itself a professional responsibility.
Two types of authority in professional relationships Executive authority (a.k.a. organizational or institutional authority) Expertise authority People with less expertise authority can have greater executive authority
One possible area of conflict with employers or supervisors: Public safety, risk, & service quality disputes 3 models of safety, risk, & quality-related responsibilities (from Mike Martins Meaningful Work): Employers Agents Professions Standard-bearers Shared Agency (Martins preference)
Model 1 - Employer's Agents Professionals are hired guns who advise about safety & then carry out orders. Organizational subordinates simply obey.
Model 2 – Professions Standard- bearers Professionals stand upon the standards set by their profession & the law. Professionals make their own judgments of the public good, even in conflict with their employers
Model 3 - Shared Agency Managers & the professionals they supervise are shared decision-makers Professionals are advocates for the public good but must be balanced by goals, cost, schedules, customer demands Managers too must see themselves as advocates for the publics good
Shared Goals: the compatibility of public & private goods The dualistic view of corporations as only profit oriented & professionals as devoted only to public goods is inaccurate. Professionals are interested in more than public goods and institutions/corporations serve more than private goods. A life of virtue can be cultivated in organizations (at least the right organizations)
Loyalty summarized (M. Martin) 4 basic obligations of professionals: identify by independent reason problematic orders & regulations express their views within appropriate limits create an atmosphere of tolerance & free expression be willing to refuse involvement in projects that create extreme public danger
The professionals conscientious refusal of employers orders A right based on: respect for personal integrity right to pursue & express professional responsibilities Not an absolute, but specifically entails rights to: speak without fear of reprisal alternative assignment if available
Features of acceptable situation for conscientious refusal Potential for great harm to public No substantial harm is done to ones organization by following conscience One acts in good faith, sincerely trying to meet all responsibilities Situations of partial satisfaction of these features?
How does the tension between loyalty to employer and conscientious exercise of professional judgment play out in your prospective profession? Suggest a case where conscience should be followed and a case where conscience claims would be clearly limited and wrongly invoked. Create some general guidelines for determining when personal conscience or respect for authority should have priority.
Whistleblowing Definition: disclosure of evidence of: violation of law, rule or regulation; gross waste of funds; gross abuse of authority; gross mismanagement; substantial threat to public health and safety.
Whistleblowing The double horror of whistleblowing: the initial trauma + frequent retaliation The need for greater protections The special case of whistleblowing within the federal government See: whistleblowers.org U.S. Office of Special Counsel
3 views of whistleblowing Condemning – unacceptable disloyalty Necessary evil, a tragedy to be avoided Obligatory under specific conditions Need for criteria for obligatory whistle- blowing.
Steps in whistleblowing Assess the seriousness of the issue Assess your motives Know your situation – e.g., how high up does the corruption go? Create lateral links of support
Steps in whistleblowing Realism about available protection consult attorney? Evidence - is my information documented & verified?
Steps in whistleblowing Where to take the information? Who is the proper recipient of my information? internal external How much personal exposure? anonymous open
Assuming internal, open whistleblowing... State your position: clarity stick to facts, avoid personal attacks come with win-win solutions Going over the supervisor's head the ethics officer or hot-line
Steps in whistleblowing If unresolved tension grows acute? Choices: comply try to change the system from within go public (classic whistleblowing) To whom? Media? Law enforcement? Your profession? exit (variations) Anticipate & document retaliation
Summing up No apriori system for determining mandatory whistle-blowing Whistleblowing is: often a supererogatory expression of personal ideals (rarely mandatory) an appropriate expression of those personal ideals
Importance of whistleblower protection laws Pros can have an obligation to whistle- blow, but it is unreasonable to blame them for failing to do so if society does not provide adequate protections for them. Must contextualize and personalize.