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1 Understanding Rule Bending: The Devaluation of Compliance in the DOD Understanding Rule Bending: The Devaluation of Compliance in the DOD Ethics Partnership.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Understanding Rule Bending: The Devaluation of Compliance in the DOD Understanding Rule Bending: The Devaluation of Compliance in the DOD Ethics Partnership."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Understanding Rule Bending: The Devaluation of Compliance in the DOD Understanding Rule Bending: The Devaluation of Compliance in the DOD Ethics Partnership Meeting Markkula Center, Santa Clara University Markkula Center, Santa Clara University January 23, 2007 Dr. Leslie Sekerka Naval Postgraduate School Graduate School of Business & Public Policy Monterey, CA USA

2 2 The Presentation & Discussion  Motivation for the inquiry  Research questions & study  Implications  Take-aways for non-DOD orgs

3 3 DOD Organizational Context  Ongoing transformation  Cost-wise readiness  Increased number of missions (tasks)  Faster pace  Fewer resources …Observance of rule bending* *Cave, 2005

4 4 Ethical Dilemmas *Separate category, not double counted. Narratives: USN Supply Corps Officers (Sample = 95) Total Rule bending 25.0% 25.0% Combinations13.9 Misuse or missing funds/resources 12.0 Senior Officer requests rule bend 11.1 Inappropriate sexual activity 10.2 Stealing7.4 Drug/alcohol abuse 6.5 Cheating/lying5.6 Harassment (not sexual) 4.6 Bribery3.7

5 5 Well designed rules anticipate…  Conditions for exceptions  Changes to environment  Potential misinterpretation  Conflicts with other rules  Impacts on behavior (creation of norms) In the DOD, rules have become more specific and so numerous, it makes it more difficult to adhere to them.

6 6 Is it Legal to RB?  Rules in the DOD (FAR/DFAR) are the law  DOD 5000: mission accomplishment is considered performance excellence  Guidance on how take action outside the rules is limited  Compliance is an officer’s duty (take orders, but also follow regulations)

7 7 Is it Ethical to RB?  Leaders modeling the behavior  Creation of social and org norms  May contribute to a climate of obfuscation, denial, or rationalization Can rule bending deplete the value of compliance?

8 8 Research Questions  When and why do people bend the rules?  Is prudential judgment used in decisions to rule bend?  When people say they rule bend, do they loose value in (or regard for) the rules?

9 9 Rule bending  Choosing not to adhere to stated precepts  Decision to not adhere is outside the boundary of their authority  Employee makes a decision/choice

10 10 Prudential Judgment  Reason Practical deliberation Practical deliberation  Right action Consideration of others Consideration of others

11 11 The Study  SR DOD managers/military officers  Open ended questions  Grounded theory/qualitative analysis* ID scenarios ID scenarios ID motives ID motives ID use of prudential judgment ID use of prudential judgment  Follow up focus groups (4) *Strauss & Corbin, 1990; Ragin, 1994

12 12 Results: RB Scenarios (Sample = 60; case = 10) 1. The color of money 2. Flex time 3. Split orders (A) 4. Spend before year end 5. Work before funds arrive 6. Hide non-performers 7. Ignore classified procedures

13 13 Results: RB Avoidance Scenarios 1. Supplier gifts 2. Performing tests 3. Split orders (B)

14 14 Analysis* * Ten cases analyzed using comparative method; yes/no based on overall response, determined through coder agreement. ScenarioRB Motive: Mission Motive: Boss Motive: Personal Practical Deliberation Concern for Others Threat to Organization Color of Money Yes Flex Time Yes No Split orders Yes No Spend Before Year End Yes No Work Before Funds Arrive Yes Hide Non- performers Yes Ignore Classified Procedures Yes Accept Gifts No Yes Avoid Tests NoYes Split Orders NoYes

15 15 Findings Suggest…  When RB is viewed as a small threat to org, it is more likely exercised.  When RB is viewed as a large threat to the org, it is more likely avoided.  When RB is considered necessary to achieve task accomplishment, it is more likely viewed as a small threat.  When personal motives influence decisions, those not related to personal values, RB is more likely viewed as a small threat.*  Org contexts where RB has become an accepted norm, may deplete the value of compliance…unless prudential judgment is exercised. * For example, desire to leave early, achieve personal success, to avoid hassle.

16 16 Implications: Devaluation of Compliance  RB is viewed as a small threat to org  Sustained press for task accomplishment  Absence of explicit personal ethics/values, and more focus on personal motives*  Lack of prudential judgment in decision- making = Less value in compliance *A promotion focus, e.g., task completion or a prevention focus, e.g., stay out of trouble.

17 17 Take Aways?  Corp ethics programs need to include both (a) rule and compliance awareness and (b) ethics as decision- making (competency development/support).  Prudential judgment (discernment, deliberation, and consideration of others) is targeted as a skill that is developed/honed in the workplace.*  Emphasis on ethical responsibility must include the application of both organizational and personal ethics/values.  Doing it legally is not the test, it’s about what is appropriate and what is ethical.*  What else? * This may also foster awareness that RB can be an org threat; cf Hansen, 2006.


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