In recent years ethics has become an integral part of the business world. Honesty, social responsibility and standards of morals have become part of the organizational-business dialogue. Today we are in a period in which an organization has to relate to the moral considerations of its activities, as well as its business conduct, despite the many challenges which this approach involves.
The Kinneret Institute for Applied Ethics in Organizations, which was recently established, will engage in a wide range of areas, both on the level of the individual and of the organization, relating to the field of applied ethics, such as social responsibility, management styles and appropriate management, applications of emotional intelligence at organizations, and work relations while focusing on the implications for the individual and for the organization. Among other things, and as part of the moral facility, organizations are expected to also address complex issues of interpersonal relations which do not reflect moral responsibility, such as damaging and abusive conduct which, at the end of the day, cause psychological and/or physical damage to the victim and his surroundings and/or harm the organization and its environment, directly or indirectly. These are phenomena that exist in the private and public government sector, as well as NPOs. These forms of harmful behavior come at a heavy price. This is not a rare phenomenon. This is a common phenomenon. Research conducted by the Ministry of Economics (2012) on the subject indicated that, on average, 1 of every 10 employees is subjected to harassment by a manager, and 1 of every 5, on average, is harassed by other workers, with varying rates of frequency. Around half of the research respondents said they agreed with the statement that harassment harms their level of motivation, and the quality of their life, whereby some opted for forms of regressive behavior such as coming to work late, absences, long breaks, or shortening their work day, which cause financial harm to the economy. In research work (Itzkowitz, 2010) which examined inappropriate behavior as a tested type of abuse, around 60% of the respondents experienced harassment by managers, or by senior members of the organization, with varying frequencies. These figures are similar to the findings of research work carried out in other countries. There, too, the party causing the harassment is mainly the manager or someone who is more senior than the victim. Recent research (Heilborn and Itzkowitz, 2014) indicates that 73% of the harassers are managers. While only a small percentage of workers experience harassment at a high rate of frequency, in terms of an employment market this is a worrying phenomenon, as there is a direct connection between abuse, resignation, employment insecurity and even a willingness to cheat the employer. Organizational solidarity also suffers.
In addition, and with reference to the need of organizations to conduct themselves in an ethical manner, one should say that, first and foremost, this relates to people who, as a result of harmful conduct, suffer from emotional and physical harassment, and harm to their quality of life and to their close environment.
Ultimately, those harmful forms of behavior comprise an obstacle to an infrastructure of appropriate behavior in its various guises. If one wants to generate innovativeness, promote commitment, and to lead entrepreneurship within the organization, first and foremost, one has to create a wide moral infrastructure. The foundations of this infrastructure necessitate highly focused treatment of those harmful acts, which they and their implications are noted above. In light of this insight, it is very important to establish a research institute which is designed to carry out research, consultancy and the application of ethics in an organization, as well as preventing harmful interpersonal behavior. This is activity which may significantly contribute to the promotion of the college’s name in important, sectors, public and business sectors alike.
The purpose of the institute:
The institute’s purpose is act as a focus for research, consultancy and application of ethical forms of behavior in organizations. In this context it will work to promote research that focuses on harmful forms of behavior at organizations in Israel, based on an understanding that harmful behavior impedes ethical organizational culture. In this framework, the institute will act to help organizations to prevent, identify and address unethical behavior. On the national level, the institute will act to raise social and public awareness of these forms of behavior, while creating their objective and precise forecast. The institute will also aim to advance legislation and/or standardization in the field, in order to promote the application of ethics at organizations.
The institute is already engaged in research on a representative sample of workers in Israel, in order to expose the scale of the phenomenon within the population, as well as its ramifications.
In addition, the first session of the members of the institute’s council will take place in April. This will include researchers from the college, and from elsewhere, as well as senior managers from industry and workers’ organizations. The meeting is designed to determine strategy for the institute’s activities in the coming year, relating to the following operational areas:
1. A survey of unethical forms of behavior and conveying them to the public.
2. Examination of unethical forms of behavior, and their various expressions, factors and ramifications in a wide variety of organizations, domains and groups.
3. Advice to organizations with regard to identifying handling and prevention of unethical behavior.
4. Increasing social and public awareness of unethical behavior by initiating conferences, seminars and advertising the research findings on academic research platforms and in other, non-academic, arenas.
5. Advancing legislation and/or standardization relating to unethical behavior.
Prof. Sybil Heilborn will serve as chair of the institute for the coming three years. The other members of the institute, who serve as lecturers at the college, are: Dr. Yariv Itzkovitz, Dr. Dorit Alt, Dr. Riki Galia and Dr. NIva Dolev. They will be joined by specialists in the study of unethical behavior – Prof. Yoav Vardi and Prof. Eli Witz. Other members, from industry, and representatives of workers’ organizations, will join at a later date.