Adapting Kohlberg to Enhance the Assessment of Managers’ Moral Reasoning

Posted: November 27th, 2013





J. Weber – Adapting Kohlberg to Enhance the Assessment of Managers’ Moral Reasoning

The article, “Adapting Kohlberg to Enhance the Assessment of Managers’ moral Reasoning” by James Weber, evaluates the importance of understanding how managers make decisions to solve the ethical and moral dilemmas they face. The author notes that research on the issue is constrained by the fact that there are no appropriate methods, which can be used to measure how managers make decisions when they are confronted with moral and ethical issues. He notes that the available model proposed and designed by Lawrence Kohlberg and his team sought to identify a person’s moral development. The team identified a way to measure people’s reasoning, moral judgment and standard issues. The instrument cannot however be used in a business context, as it includes information that would seem unnecessary for the particular task. The author notes that the instrument should be modified for it to be relevant in understanding the managers’ reasoning. He proposes four ways to this effect. His proposals include mixing the common and less common dilemmas that are experienced in business settings, having follow-up interview questions, choosing between oral and written interviews and adopting a simple and reliable method for scoring the managers’ reasoning (Weber 295).

Kohlberg identified the stages of moral development, which identifies the differences in people’s reasoning as they are making moral judgments. The article covers and highlights the main elements in the three levels of moral development. The author justifies adopting the moral interview so that it can be used by people at the management level. The moral interview questions are designed in such a way that they can be understood by people of different ages, they have a global appeal and they can be used to measure the highest stage of moral reasoning. The author notes that these conditions are not necessarily relevant to managers. This adaptation enables one to measure the managers’ actual form of moral reasoning, rather than his or her highest form. The author identified an abbreviated scoring guide, which would be used to ease the scoring process. The scoring guide eliminates the cumbersome procedures that are present in the previous models, and it provides an easier way for the researcher to code the managers’ reasoning into the identified development stages.

The author has managed to achieve his goal, which was to eliminate the unnecessary details when measuring the managers’ reasoning. He has done this by adopting different measures in the various stages of the process. He has identified different relevant factors, which influence the managers’ decision when making moral decisions. He has however failed to offer alternatives in the interview section. He has noted that managers do not often have time to conduct long interviews and so they prefer the written interviews (Weber 299). Although this has been identified as a shortcoming, it can be seen as irrelevant in modern times. This is because the work environment has changed and managers have relegated the interviewing process to panels and other people in the department. Some forms of interviews are not considered in modern times. Other factors that managers consider when making moral and ethical decisions include the type of work, age and gender. The changing work environment has changed the way people make decisions. Almost every profession has guidelines that are supposed to guide the manager when he or she is facing ethical and sometimes moral dilemmas. The guidelines are a combination of existing laws and the experience gathered over the years.

Although earlier theories tended to focus on using reason when making moral judgment, modern theorists have identified emotion as one of the main determinants when making moral and ethical judgments. Jonathan Haidt identified the social intuitionist theory, which places emotions at the core when making moral decisions. He was however quick to note that the type of profession is important when making moral decisions. His model identified four stages that include perception of events, affect/intuition, judgment and reasoning. Haidt asserted that when people are faced with ethical and moral decisions, they will often make the decision based on how they feel at that moment and they will then try to find a reason for their answer. This happens frequently in almost all settings. When people are faced with extreme decisions, especially those that touch on their conscience, they will often make decisions quickly without giving it a second thought.

I have faced situations where I had to make moral and ethical decisions. I find that in most cases, I have often made decisions based on how I felt. My friend confided in me that she was pregnant and she was considering having an abortion. I firmly told her that doing so would not be the right thing to do. She seemed to agree with me but after a while, she asked me what my reasons were. She is not a religious person and I could not justify the issue based on religious beliefs. I had to think before I gave her a weak, “its just feels wrong” kind of answer. I began searching for the reason when she asked me why I had told her not to undergo the abortion. Haidt identified what he referred to as “moral dumbfounding”, which stipulates that people do not usually consider reason when they are making moral judgment. He holds that even when a person thinks of a reason why he made the judgment, he will still fall back on the judgment he had first made. In my case, I did try to reason why getting an abortion was not wrong. My friend tried all that she could to tell me that it would be beneficial for her. However, despite her consistent justification on the issue, I still held on to the fact that abortion was wrong.






















Works Cited

Weber, James. “Adapting Kohlberg to Enhance the Assessment of Managers’ Moral Reasoning.” Business Ethics Quarterly 1991: 293-318. Print


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