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MANAGERIAL COMMUNICATION ETHICS IN INDIA AND THE WORLD “ Ineffective whistle—blowing systems, inadequate oversight of senior management activities

by the audit committee and weak regulatory oversight mechanisms are the reasons for the increase in the number of frauds that one can see in the industry today,” Managers concern with Business and Communication Ethics is not merely a concern with “being good” by resolving conflicts in values or by analyzing the impact of decisions on people. Often the goal of a manager to communicate ethically revolves around to avoid illegal or unethical corporate behavior leading to adverse situations. Codes of conduct and communication ethical training programs may be offered to avoid such reactions and impact to the bottom line. A strong corporate culture and ethical communication is a strategy for survival and profitability in a highly competitive era. For example, the CEO of Bong-Warner said “Communication values and profits are inseparable”. IBM maintained that “people generally think of us as competent, successful & ethical” and believes that the three are directly related. Questions of right and wrong arise whenever managers communicate. Ethical communication is fundamentally responsible for thinking, decision making, and the development of relationships and communities within and across contexts, cultures, channels, and media. Moreover, ethical communication enhances human worth and dignity by fostering truthfulness, fairness, responsibility, personal integrity, and respect for self and others. In India, it is believed that unethical communication threatens the quality of all communication and consequently the well-being of individuals and the society in which we live. Therefore, the members of the National Communication Association endorse and are committed to practicing the following principles of ethical communication: “We advocate truthfulness, accuracy, honesty, and reason as essential to the integrity of communication. We endorse freedom of expression, diversity of perspective, and tolerance of dissent to achieve the informed and responsible decision making fundamental to a civil society. We strive to understand and respect other communicators before evaluating and responding to their messages. We promote access to communication resources and opportunities as necessary to fulfill human potential and contribute to the well-being of families, communities, and society. We promote communication climates of caring and mutual understanding that respect the unique needs and characteristics of individual communicators. We condemn communication that degrades individuals and humanity through distortion, intimidation, coercion, and violence, and through the expression of intolerance and hatred. We are committed to the courageous expression of personal convictions in pursuit of fairness and justice. We advocate sharing information, opinions, and feelings when facing significant choices while also respecting privacy and confidentiality. We accept responsibility for the short- and long-term consequences for our own communication and expect the same of others.” In India, to integrate ethical communication decision-making further into the corporate culture, some businesses are turning to communication ethics training. Yet its implementation raises many questions: What are corporations trying to achieve with ethical communication training?

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Who are the managers who should be receiving it? What should be included in ethical communication training for managers? Is communication ethics training really effective? How can managers facilitate the effectiveness of training programs?

It is a common claim in the literature that Indian managers experience a clash between the values acquired from their education and professional training and those drawn from Indian culture and society. Indian managers' values drawn from their training, it is argued, mirror the emphasis of Western textbooks on instrumental rationality and rule-following, whereas the values drawn from family and community emphasize affiliation and social obligations. This conflict often creates a fragmented identity of conflicting values and behavioral orientations, with the emotive element straining with other rational considerations. In terms of the ethical stances Indian social values might arguably lead to a preference for the ethical awareness and ethical convention stances. If this were, so, then the clash with the corporate preference for the ethical puzzle and neutrality stances could lead Indian managers to adopt the ethical problem and dilemma stances, which imply a struggle to balance conflicting values. If Indian managers do experience a conflict between Western business values and Indian social values then different dynamics may emerge in response to it. One possibility is that, within their job roles, Indian managers may express Indian social values. Differences in the values of Indian and Western managers have noticed that most Indian managers were relaxed about uncertainty (although significant minorities were not) and placed high importance on loyalty and belongingness. This conclusion was based on Indian managers' scores on Hofstede's (1980) four cultural dimensions (power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism and masculinity). These scores were in contrast to Hofstede's results for the UK, Canada and the USA, and showed Indian managers expressing different values to those of their Western counterparts. The study showed that the differences between Indian and UK firms were consistent with differences in socio-economic conditions and employees' cultural traits in the two countries. A second possible dynamic is that, in some contexts, Indian managers adopt Western corporate values. Indian managers in internationally owned firms were comparable to the scores of Hofstede's Western samples. This finding raises the possibility that Indian managers may have to suppress some of their values in certain work situations. A third possible dynamic is that managers may exhibit the stress of dealing with the clash of values within their managerial roles. In India and around the world ethical communication culture has been identified as a significant determinant of ethical attitudes of business managers. Unethical conducts is often illegal. Hundreds of companies are sued each year for false or misleading statements made during their managers’ communication. Ethical behavior is both good for business and good for an increase in management contracts and tenants. A habitual lack of ethical principles in dealing with clients is likely to be

discovered. This discovery could result in embarrassment, lost properties, and possibly termination of employment with the company. We have in this article, if not finally established, at least offered reasons for believing that the practical approach toward managers’ ethical communication presupposes a quite idealistic conception of business practice. It is idealistic due to lack of foundation or ground in actual practice. Communication ethics is a significant new discipline available as a resource for communication managers founded on social science traditions. It provides a well-- grounded view of reality, based on theories of perception, knowledge and resources. For managers, communication ethics offers a coherent standpoint from which to view and understand the complexities of a new information age. Communication ethics encourages managers to consider their views and roles based on personal integrity, to allow mediation between competing positions, and to provide individual protection, against larger groups, where coercion and manipulation is possible. An opportunity exists for communication management to embrace a new integrating philosophy and discipline that supports communication practice in the age of `information pollution'. Such a discipline will be centred on a profoundly situated ethics of wellbeing and care for people, combined with a well-grounded theory of communication. Communication ethics offers a foundational philosophy for communication managers to make them a good manager: a moral manager!!!

Written by: Ms. Parul Raj Associate Professor JIMS Rohini Dr. Ritu Bajaj Professor JIMS Rohini