" This particular cultural value system in fact helped me to assimilate more easily into the two institutions in which I spent most of my working life. The work ethic is defined as follows:
The work ethic is a cultural norm that advocates being personally accountable and responsible for the work that one does and is based on a belief that work has intrinsic value." (Hill, R.B. and. Petty, G.C. 1995) This attitude towards work has aided my understanding of the value systems as well as the ethos and meaning of work and decision making in both the military and police. The value of personal accountability in particular was one of the cardinal aspects that was emphasized in both organizations and which formed the basis of all decisions. The fact that one had to take responsibility for the decisions one made ensured that no decision was taken lightly and without due consideration for all the salient factors and repercussions.
A also leant to understand the concept of a shared system of cultural values. Cultural values are essentially values that are agreed upon through consensus. In other words, the group of individuals agrees as to the most beneficent and important decision that are best for the group or organization.
When the members of a social unit share values, an organizational culture or value system can be said to exist (Weiner 1988)." (Sundaram, D.)
In the final analysis, while all these factors impact on an individuals ability to make decisions, as well as providing the framework in which these decisions are made, yet the final decision making process lies, I believe, with the individual conscience and his or her heartfelt view of right and wrong. I have always made my decisions based on the values of understanding and care as well as hard work and ensuring fairness to those around me. I have also learnt through my years in the military and police force to consider those who are directly and indirectly affected by the decisions I make. This is a cardinal value that was predominant in the two organizations for which I worked.
My experience in these institutions also taught me the importance of ethics in decision making. In brief, ethics refers to "principles that define behavior as right, good and proper. Such principles do not always dictate a single "moral" course of action, but provide a means of evaluating and deciding among competing options." (Making Sense of Ethics) Ethics are "concerned with how a moral person should behave, whereas values are the inner judgments that determine how a person actually behaves." (ibid) the ethical systems that I was exposed to formed my decision making process from a core of values and beliefs that were essentially part of my personal and cultural makeup. The ethics that I encountered and imbibed in the military also helped me to broaden my basic values. The concept of decisions based on the greater good and the consideration for the welfare of others and not for purely selfish motives has formed the foundation of all my decisions.
As was stated in the introduction to this essay, it is important to see the interconnections between the various elements that determine the way a person makes decisions. I am fortunate to have been involved in organizations that were aligned to my cultural and personal value and ethical systems. The emphasis on rationality in the decision making process in the military and law enforcement has provided an ideal environment for making decisions based on the clear and precise ethics of compassion and unselfishness, which forms the basis of my personal value system
Bell, W. The Impact of Policies on Organizational Values and Culture. Retrieved December 25, 2004 from United States Air Force Academy. Web site: http://www.usafa.af.mil/jscope/JSCOPE99/Bell99.html
Hill, R.B. and. Petty, G.C. (1995) a New Look at Selected Employability Skills: A Factor Analysis of the Occupational Work Ethic. Retrieved December 24, 2004, from the University of Georgia. Web Site: http://www.coe.uga.edu/~rhill/workethic/jverart.htm
Making Sense of Ethics. Retrieved December 23, 2004, from JOSEPHSON INSTITUTE of ETHICS. Web site: http://www.josephsoninstitute.org/MED/MED-1makingsense.htm
Sundaram, D.S. EXPLORING the RELATIONSHIPS AMONG ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE, CUSTOMER SATISFACTION, and PERFORMANCE. Retrieved December 25, 2004, from Mississippi State University. Web site: http://marketing.byu.edu/htmlpages/ccrs/proceedings99/webster.htm