Ethics in relation to the use of Computer technology:
Ethics governing computer technology, the electronic data, personal information, and related situations have been of much debate in the information technology circles. The rules and regulations regarding this 'computer technology' seem to be very loose and flexible, and are often not given much regard. The field is in its adolescence phases and therefore not much has been concretely established relating to the ethical code of conduct relating to it. Since there is no concrete code of conduct, or set of instructions organizations and people tend to perceive ethical conduct each on their own accord. The way ethics related issues are solved differs from one person, organization to another. The difference can be based on external factors like the environment the organization is operating in, the size of the organization, the nature of industry it operates in etc. While internally the difference can occur due to the diverse point-of-view of people, the difference in understanding or interpretation of the existing rubric or personal assumptions (Harrington, 1996).
The variables that a person brings into consideration while making an ethical decision concerning Computer technology according to Pierce and Henry (2000, p. 307-322) are the previous experiences of a person in an identical or even remotely similar ambiguous situation, deriving ideas from the decisions of other co-workers made in such situations, and also bringing the organization's set of permitted actions into consideration while deciding on a course of action. An employee tends to make his own individual decisions extracting ideology from his own personal set of averages, assumed informal averages of the co-workers, and formal organizational averages (Sims and Keon, 1999; Paradice, 1990).
In many situations co-workers averages and organizational averages are the external factors influencing or applying stress on an individual dictating his actions. The individual, in such cases, needs to rely on his personal judgment making skills and rationalizing skills to make a decision instead of being pressured by external factors. The study conducted by Pierce and Henry carefully studies a group of select individuals and how they consider their judgment skills and rationalizing skills different from the set of averages of co-workers or organization. The study also includes select individuals who are not bound by an organizational code of conduct, or ethical regulations. This helps in determining the influence and interference of organizational averages in an individual's decision making spectrum, and also how individuals not governed by such organizational averages respond to situations in comparison with individuals who are governed by such organizational ethical regulations.
The main problem in situations concerning ethical issues is not of their not being a rubric on the subject, but rather the problem lies in the difference between an individual's perceptions of ethical conduct, and the perceptions of the said individual's co-workers and organization. The difference of perception causes conflicts on a personal level as well as a professional level. These kinds of conflict can be between two employees (Horvath, 1999), or between and employee and the organization. The negative impact of these conflicts can generally be expensive law suit settlements, and/or a loss of enthusiasm to work for the company which affects the organization's turnover, credibility and the office environment (Victor and Cullen, 1988). The focus in any situation related to ethics lies on the individual. The individual employee is the one who goes through a spectrum of thoughts, assumption and decisions to reach a point of consensus amongst his justification for the action and the organization's intended modus operandi. The pressure of a making a decision which is ethically astute is on the individual. The pressure can be due to the expectations organization or co-workers have from the individual, or the presumptions other co-workers and organization has towards the individual. In both the aspects the individual is the one who stresses over how the co-workers would react in similar situations (which is often the same as what they would expect of the individual) and how the organization would react to a similar situation (which is the same as what the organization would expect the individual to do). This pressure induces stress on the individual leading to negative effect on their psyche and their performance. The devisal of an ethical code of conduct for every employee in an organization to follow helps in assisting employees in interpreting the code in an identical manner, to minimize difference of opinions, interests and experiences. However, the…