Technology Can Affect Ethics And Culture
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Can Technology Affect Ethics and Culture?
In today's work environment, workers are expected to know more than ever before. With the growing of technology comes more knowledge that end-users must know, so it is important for workers not to be distracted by unethical practices. However, with technology also comes a more defined sense of communication, which can be good or bad. This improved communication can not only encourage unethical behavior, but it can discourage it as well. This paper discusses how technology can encourage and discourage unethical behaviors, it explains how these behaviors can shape the type of work environment that a company promotes, and it identifies how Human Resources (HR) uses technology to influence culture.
Technology can encourage unethical practices in a number of ways. The ways that I describe involve communication of messages and images. Today, the media can reflect some very vulgar and offending messages. Especially via computer, the perpetrator of these messages can offend employees, within their own culture or in another culture, through e-mails, instant messages or unsuspecting software. Imagine being at work, and an e-mail from an unknown address comes in and your curiosity gets the better of you. When you read the e-mail, there is a very offending joke about your ethnic heritage or culture. The e-mail, obviously, was unethical and distracted you from your duties as an employee at your company. The same can be said about instant messages. For example, while your busy at work an instant message comes in and shows a link to a web-site that you happen to be curious about. When you click on the link, an image of pornography appears on the home page. The material offends you because you are happily married, a priest, or just someone with high moral standards. This is another way that technology can encourage unethical behavior and distract you from your job. Although technology can be a distraction through unethical means, it can also hinder unethical practices through policy.
Many companies already have policies that guard against unethical practices, but some companies need to implement new policies or reform their existing one. Many popular practices are used to stop unethical use of the computer. Regularly updated virus protection software can reduce the amount of viruses that your company computer might catch. However, if your virus protector is not updated, it may even slow your computer down (Entech 2003). Always be skeptical when surfing the net, especially when viewing e-mails, because e-mail attachments, free downloads, and other computer enhancements can contain spy-ware which can damage or delete your computer files.
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If you have Microsoft Windows, you should make sure that you update it monthly because Windows is constantly providing updates for our computers. Finally, make sure that you do not bring any infected software from home, because viruses can be brought from home and transferred on to your computer at work possibly damaging important files. All of these activities can also corrupt or delete customer's data. Having an operating system that is well defined for your companies needs can stop many unethical practices from happening, which can also shape the culture that a company promotes.
Depending on how culturally diverse a company is, ethics can affect a company dramatically. With today's culturally diverse workforce, there are a wide variety of ethical standards to be aware of. If these standards are not considered, many workers or potential workers can be offended. However, if they are met, it becomes easier for a company to meet their goals through the advantages of a diverse workforce. For instance, if a company hires a French employee for an upper management position, the employer might want to know some of his or her work ethics. Depending on how the employer reacts to the French's work ethics, the employer may or may not want to hire them. The only thing that the employer had to do was Google "French work ethic," and a detailed description of French work ethics supplied the information needed. Consequentially, in this case, work ethics can shape a company's culture for the better or for the worst, depending on how co-workers and managers react among each other's cultural diversity. If the employer were to realize that in order to obtain the diversity that a cross-functional team has to offer, sacrifices (training) need to be made; his/her company would likely grow in the long run. This is why it is important to have an HR manager handy to make these decisions.
An HR manager can do many things with technology to affect a companies culture. For instance, some companies have a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. If the HR managers of these companies do some research on the Internet, they will find an abundance of information about the different cultures of their companies employees. Then they can make copies of the information and make it a mandatory duty for each employee (including management) to learn the different cultures. This might prevent future conflicts of offending natures. Another thing that they could do is make sure that the company has a strict policy about e-mails, Internet surfing, and malicious software that could offend people. Furthermore, purchase any software that can prevent any of these computer problems.
Technology can be used effectively or destructively to set ethical standards and shape a companies culture. Furthermore, HR managers can be an essential component in the decision making process of how to shape a companies culture, because they are used to dealing with a variety of different people (at least more so than their co-workers). Still, it is important to know how to use technology effectively in the shaping of a company's culture so the company can take advantage culture's benefits.
Entech, (2003). Retrieved November 16, 2006, from Entech Web site:
UnderstandFrance.org, Intercultural Management. Retrieved November 16, 2006, from
UnderstandFrance.org Web site: http://www.understandfrance.org/France/Intercultural3.html
Essay/Term paper: Ethics in cyberspace
Essay, term paper, research paper: Information Technology
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Ethics in Cyberspace
Cyberspace is a global community of people using computers in networks.
In order to function well, the virtual communities supported by the Internet
depend upon rules of conduct, the same as any society. Librarians and
information technologists must be knowledgeable about ethical issues for the
welfare of their organizations and to protect and advise users.
What is ethics? Ethics is the art of determining what is right or good.
It can also be defined as a general pattern or way of life, a set of rules of
conduct or moral code. Ethical guidelines are based on values.
The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) is one national organization
which has developed a statement of its values. Every member of ACM is expected
to uphold the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct which includes these
general moral imperatives:
1) contribute to society and human well-being
2) avoid harm to others
3) be honest and trustworthy
4) be fair and take action not to discriminate
5) honor property rights including copyrights and patents
6) give proper credit for intellectual property
7) respect the privacy of others
8) honor confidentiality.
The very nature of electronic communication raises new moral issues.
Individuals and organizations should be proactive in examining these concerns
and developing policies which protect liabilities. Issues which need to be
addressed include: privacy of mail, personal identities, access and control of
the network, pornographic or unwanted messages, copyright, and commercial uses
of the network. An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is recommended as the way an
organization should inform users of expectations and responsibilities. Sample
AUPs are available on the Internet at gopher sites and can be retrieved by using
Veronica to search keywords "acceptable use policies" or "ethics."
The Computer Ethics Institute in Washington, D.C. has developed a "Ten
Commandments of Computing":
1) Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
2) Thou shalt not interfere with other people's computer work.
3) Thou shalt not snoop around in other people's computer files.
4) Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
5) Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
6) Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have
7) Thou shalt not use other people's computer resources without
authorization or proper compensation.
8) Thou shalt not appropriate other people's intellectual output.
9) Though shalt think about the social consequences of the program you
are writing or the system you are designing.
10) Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that show consideration and
respect for your fellow humans (Washington Post, 15 June 1992: WB3).
The University of Southern California Network Ethics Statement specifically
identifies types of network misconduct which are forbidden: intentionally
disrupting network traffic or crashing the network and connected systems;
commercial or fraudulent use of university computing resources; theft of data,
equipment, or intellectual property; unauthorized access of others' files;
disruptive or destructive behavior in public user rooms; and forgery of
electronic mail messages.
What should an organization do when an ethical crisis occurs? One strategy
has been proposed by Ouellette and Associates Consulting (Rifkin, Computerworld
25, 14 Oct. 1991: 84).
1. Specify the FACTS of the situation.
2. Define the moral DILEMMA.
3. Identify the CONSTITUENCIES and their interests.
4. Clarify and prioritize the VALUES and PRINCIPLES at stake.
5. Formulate your OPTIONS.
6. Identify the potential CONSEQUENCES.
Other ethical concerns include issues such as 1) Influence: Who determines
organizational policy? Who is liable in the event of lawsuit? What is the role
of the computer center or the library in relation to the parent organization in
setting policy? 2) Integrity: Who is responsible for data integrity? How much
effort is made to ensure that integrity? 3) Privacy: How is personal
information collected, used and protected? How is corporate information
transmitted and protected? Who should have access to what? 3) Impact: What
are the consequences on staff in the up- or down-skilling of jobs? What are the
effects on staff and organizational climate when computers are used for
surveillance, monitoring and measuring?
As the schools incorporate Internet resources and services into the
curriculum and the number of children using the Internet increases, other
ethical issues must be addressed. Should children be allowed to roam cyberspace
without restriction or supervision? How should schools handle student Internet
accounts? What guidelines are reasonable for children?
Organizations need to be proactive in identifying and discussing the
ethical ramifications of Internet access. By having acceptable use policies and
expecting responsible behavior, organizations can contribute to keeping
Selected Resources on Information Ethics
"Computer Ethics Statement." College & Research Libraries News
54, no. 6 (June 1993): 331-332.
Dilemmas in Ethical Uses of Information Project. "The Ethics
Kit." EDUCOM/EUIT, 1112 16th Street, NW, Suite 600,
Washington, D.C. 20036. phone: (202) 872-4200; fax: (202)
872-4318; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986." P.L. 99-508.
Approved Oct. 21, 1986. [5, sec 2703]
Feinberg, Andrew. "Netiquette." Lotus 6, no. 9 (1990): 66-69.
Goode, Joanne and Maggie Johnson. "Putting Out the Flames: The
Etiquette and Law of E-Mail." ONLINE 61 (Nov. 1991): 61-65.
Gotterbarn, Donald. "Computer Ethics: Responsibility Regained."
National Forum 71, no. 3 (Summer 1991): 26-31.
Hauptman, Robert, ed. "Ethics and the Dissemination of
Information." Library Trends 40, no. 2 (Fall 1991): 199-
Johnson, Deborah G. "Computers and Ethics." National Forum 71,
no. 3 (Summer 1991): 15-17. Journal of Information Ethics (1061-9321).
Kapor, M. "Civil Liberties in Cyberspace." Scientific American
265, no. 3 (1991): 158-164.
Research Center on Computing and Society, Southern Connecticut
State University and Educational Media Resources, Inc.
"Starter Kit." phone: (203) 397-4423; fax: (203-397-4681;
e-mail: rccs @csu.ctstate.edu
Rifkin, Glenn. "The Ethics Gap." Computerworld 25, no. 41 (14
Oct. 1991): 83-85.
Shapiro, Normal and Robert Anderson. "Toward an Ethics and
Etiquette for Electronic Mail." Santa Monica, Calif.: Rand
Corporation, 1985. Available as Rand Document R-3283-NSF/RC
and ERIC Document ED 169 003.
Using Software: A Guide to the Ethical and Legal Use of Software
for Members of the Academic Community. EDUCOM and ITAA,
Welsh, Greg. "Developing Policies for Campus Network
Communications." EDUCOM Review 27, no. 3 (May/June 1992):
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