One of the biggest obstacles to ethics is arbitrariness. All kinds of behavior – both unethical and ethical – can lead to arbitrary ethics consequences. Conversely, arbitrariness in ethics oversight almost always generates unethical behavior. Let’s take a common example in organizations of all sectors and sizes: leaving enforcement of ethical guidelines up to the immediate boss in a hierarchical structure. One employee’s particularly punitive boss may deliver a career-damaging punishment. Another boss may not even read the e-mails signalling more serious unethical behavior leaving her direct report to carry on with impunity. Both occur within the same organization with the same ethics rules and same senior level oversight.
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