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Ethics at Work
Creating Virtue at an American Corporation
Daniel Terris

Available only as an ebook.

2005 • 176 pp. 6 x 9"
Economics & Business / Ethics & Moral Philosophy

$19.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-460-5

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Innovative . . . a case study in blending praise and criticism.”—Chronicle of Higher Education

A fascinating assessment of the ethics program at Lockheed Martin, one of the world's largest defense contractors.

The defense industry has, to some people’s surprise, the broadest and most sustained set of ethics programs of any sector of American business today. Lockheed Martin, which specializes in a host of high-technology products and services for the federal government, has dramatically escalated its formal ethics and business conduct program since the mega-corporation was formed through a merger in 1995. The Ethics and Business Conduct Division employs 65 “ethics officers” in sites around the United States, and it requires the firm’s 130,000-plus employees to devote at least one hour per year to consideration of the ethical issues of the business, at a cost of millions of dollars per year.

Daniel Terris spent two years researching Lockheed Martin materials and interviewing its ethics officers and ordinary employees to develop this rich case study of the ethics program at this powerful global corporation. This study begins with a survey of American attitudes toward ethics in business over the past century, raising the question of whether ethics can be genuinely built into the modern mega-corporation. Terris then develops a portrait of Lockheed Martin—its history and the nature of its far-flung businesses—turning at last to its ethics program, which was created following a series of bribery, overcharging, and corruption scandals in the 1970s and 1980s.

By 1996, Lockheed Martin had in place some dull, preachy ethics programs designed to provide basic information on telling right from wrong in business practice. But then-CEO Norm Augustine wanted to liven things up, so he turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: the irreverent Dilbert comic strip. The company came up with a board game that resembled Clue, but used Dilbert characters to explore ethical case studies drawn from real-life Lockheed Martin incidents. Terris examines the success of the board game, as well as subsequent efforts including special workshops, a film festival, and biennial ethics surveys to engage employees in broad-based discussions of ethics at work.

Although Terris applauds Lockheed Martin’s ethics program as “gloriously democratic” in its focus on the responsibility of every worker for the ethical dimensions of his or her actions, he is concerned that the broad-based focus tends to divert attention from the ethical responsibilities of senior management and the moral complexities of collective decision-making. While he admires the ambitious scope of the program, he notes that the corporation’s definition of “ethics” focuses on individual behavior rather than on the impact of the corporation’s broader policies on local, national, and global communities. The ultimate effect of such programs may be to create more ethical business practices—but, ironically, at the expense of the public good.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“[Terris] writes engagingly . . . This well-organized analysis of the ethical behavior of one corporation provides an excellent case study. A valuable resource for business ethics courses.”Choice

“[A] timely book . . . Terris' analysis of the working of [Lockheed Martin's] current program will be useful for those attempting to foil future unlawful business practices.”Barron's

"An important and timely book, written with a rare combination of careful analysis and passion for what is right. Daniel Terris moves the entire discussion of public ethical responsibility to the urgently needed next level."James Carroll, Author of Constantine's Sword and Crusade: Chronicles of an Unjust War

“Here is a thoughtful book at a matter Americans have recently come to know rather well-corporate life as it gets challenged, sometimes with success sometimes to no avail. This book offers a careful, knowing observers wisdom-a telling account of how business leaders acquit themselves morally, or on occasion, fail to do so. For many of us readers, an education will arrive; we will understand a great deal about the responsibilities that befall corporate offices.”Robert Coles, Professor of Social Ethics, Harvard University

From the Book:

“Lockheed Martin has created the tidiness of its ethics program by building it inside a sturdy compartment, and then carefully making sure that the package remains intact. This is a careful strategy, aiming to build morale within the Lockheed Martin community, and to build confidence about the ethics program among those who work for the U.S. Government and in the larger arena of public opinion. This strategy does not diminish the program’s successes within that compartment. But it does mean that the program will inevitably meet at best only a portion of public expectations, because not everyone accepts the notion that ethics should be so strictly contained. If business ethics means the full measure of the impact that a corporation has on its world, then compartmentalizing an ethics program will always be unsatisfactory. A narrowly-defined ethics program may thwart hackers, cheaters, and thieves, but it is poorly positioned to consider and prevent the greatest harms that a powerful organization can inflict on its communities, and on the world.”
—From the Book

DANIEL TERRIS is director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University. His previous books include A Twilight Struggle: The Life of John F. Kennedy (1992) and A Ripple of Hope: The Life of Robert F. Kennedy (1997), both with Barbara Harrison; and Catholics, Jews and The Prism of Conscience (2001), edited with Sylvia Fuks Fried.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:18:06 -0500