Ethics has been defined as the code of moral principles and values that governs the behaviour of individuals or groups with respect to what is right or wrong.

The scope of ethics in organization covers both management and leadership. Under management ethics according to Joseph W. Weiss, “Business ethics is the art and discipline of applying ethical principles to examine and solve complex moral dilemmas. Ethics in organization bothers on a moral way of behaviour that is expected in an organization. Issues bothering on employee conflicting interests, inappropriate gifts, sexual harassment, unauthorized payments and affirmative action issues.

Discussing the ethical dimensions of leadership Weiss says that leading effectively also means leading ethically and morally while businesses expand over geographic and cultural boundaries, question concerning the sense of right or wrong of leaders and followers in their business practices gain is importance.

Ethical decisions are not easy to take as the question of right or wrong is so much “person – dependent”. But however there ar e criteria that define the limits of ethical reasoning:

                     Ethical reasoning should be logical, assumption should be based on facts, and judgements made explicit.


                     Facts and evidence should be accurate, relevant and complete.

 Standards used in one’s ethical reasoning should be consistent if not, there the standards should be modified. 

The followings can be considered as ethical principle:

Ethical Relationship: Moral authority is based on individuals orcultural self-interests, customs or religions principles. An act is morally right if it serves one’s cultural self-interests, needs or standards.

Utilitarianism: A morally or ethically sound decision or policy is theone that is adjudged on the basis of cost – benefit analysis. The benefits exceed the cost of the majority of the people.

Rights: The principle of utilitarianism is based on the inalienable rightsand entitlements of individuals or groups guaranteed to all in their pursuit of freedom of speech, choice happiness and self – respect. A manager who overlooks the rights of even one individual or group may jeopardize the implementation of a decision, policy or procedure.

Universalism: Here moral authority is based on the extent to which theintention of an act treats all persons as ends in themselves and with respect. This rule enjoins managers to give individuals unique treatment if their cases so demand and that they may not be treated as mere statistics.

Justice: Moral authority is based on the extent to which opportunity,wealth and burden are fairly distributed among all. Here fairness and equity govern the decision.

Justice has three components:


 Procedural –              (How rules, procedures and the means of distributing burden and wealth  are determined).


Compensatory – (How people are compensated for injustices done to them).


 Distribution – (Does the crime committee equate punishment given).


      Elements of Ethics in Practice

 This is simply what constitutes ethical practices in organizations whether public or private.

(1)              Discipline- Here all workers both in the private and publicsectors are enjoined to be disciplined and ensure that the interest of the service is paramount in whatever is done. It calls on all senior officers to fashion out codes of conduct which they themselves can and should comply with.

 (2)Good conduct and Ideas:

 Loyalty – To serve the government with all loyalty andto be adequately compensated.

 Honesty – Civil servants should be honest in dealings with the public and should seek for no gratification.

 Courage –   Courage for hard work

 Courtesy –   It requires the public employees to be polite and courteous to both those in the service and the general public.

 Cooperation – All public servants should work in harmony. 

Tact – Tact means skillfulness in handling a difficult situation without given offence to the people involved.

 Industry –   This means hard work.

 Tidiness –    The office environment should be made neat and clean.

Source National Open University of Nigeria

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