Effects of Organizational Architecture on Ethics and Innovation
This article has chosen information systems (IS) education as the area to discuss the roles of ethics and social responsibility. The core issues addressed here are professional conduct, privacy of information and persons, intellectual property, cybercrime, the effect on users, freedom of speech and “Green” computing issues (Harris, 2011). This paper was written also by the authors to challenge the educators of the information systems sector to emphasize ethics and social responsibility in the classes.
In my experience for this course (MBA), I have already encountered two major areas where ethics and social responsibility were taught. First was with MAN5066 (Managerial Ethics) where the whole course focused on this and now with the current ECO5010 (Economic Analysis of the Firm). I like this article in that this will run parallel to my job as an instructor of the electrical trade and hopefully I will find ways from this article to apply to my own classes as well.
The article started with issues of morality, fairness, justice, “what is right? ” and “what is wrong? They said that the need for business ethics has been around since the 60’s but was not given much attention until the occurrence of the big corporate scandals like Enron, WorldCom and others. In the world of IT (information technology), the article also mentioned cases such as the Sony BMG case , and those of other cases outside the country like the News of the World phone-hacking incident in the UK and the Satyam scandal in India. It mentioned that in this era of globalization, this corporate and societal governance is of utmost importance considering the scale that this can go to.
The generation of students now has on their hands (their keyboards and monitors) vast amount of information from the Internet. All these data and information are so easy to get and so tempting to put into use without considering morals or ethics. It is easy to compare this explanation by just thinking about a student who will do this Individual Work by just merely “cutting and pasting” from an article without citations and to claim that paper as entirely his own.
The two main themes of this article are about how ethics and social responsibility can enhance IS education and how IS educators can integrate ethics and social responsibility in their curriculum. Our current generation has now reached the stage where children play on game consoles, go to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, among others. Even in our workplaces, the emails we use and the online transactions we do can easily be preyed upon by both the corporate IT group or by tracking mechanisms devised by data miners outside the organization.
The rate of growth of the Internet seems to be continuing in the future. The rate of these technological advances has made legislators and regulatory bodies miles away trying to cope up with their political will. The article emphasizes at this point that educators must inculcate among their students the role of ethical and social dimensions in shaping them up into responsible citizens and employees, or even employers when they reach that particular stage in their lives. It is important that IS students be given an appreciation of social, political, technological and global issues given their particular education.
Some of the issues they need to be aware of are the privacy and data protection, social inclusion and even what they termed as “green IT” where a study has found that by 2011 the use of IT will contribute to the US’ energy consumption by as much as 3% (Harris, 2011). It is now easy to violate anyone’s privacy by just posting a photo on Facebook without his knowledge or consent. Even taking photos for posting are so easy now with the flood of smart phones that can take photo discretely, take a “screen shot” and click “post”.
It is then imperative that we look at our current students as tomorrow’s leaders and hopefully by integrating ethics and social responsibility in our curriculum and classroom topics, turn them into ethical leaders who will uphold organizational standards and develop systems that can ensure ethical behavior in the part of the system users. Breaking Away: How Great Leaders Create Innovation That Drives Sustainable Growth-And Why Others Fail Deevi, Seetharama (2011) This article is a review by Seetharama of the 2011 publication by authors Fail Jane Stevenson and Bilal Kaafarani (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011).
The main subject discussed in the article is the word “innovation”. The article mentioned that while the importance of innovation is accepted by all, the meaning of the word is interpreted in different ways based on the context. The book is divided into three parts – “the Innovation Equation”, “the Leadership Equation” and the merging of these two to demonstrate how innovation happens (Deevi, Seetharama. 2011). The Innovation Equation (Deevi, Seetharama. 2011) relates to how a discovery happens, the part of creation and then the innovation that makes it possible for the consumers to actually buy the product.
This is actually a departure from the traditional products and delves into imagination and creativity to produce something out of the ordinary. The utility function has to be considered at this point to ensure consumer attention and acceptance. The part of Transformational Innovation (Deevi, Seetharama. 2011) is mentioned here as driven by “curiosity and discovery” where examples were cited such as steam engines, steel, cars, incandescent bulbs, cell phones and the Internet. A lot of transformations came from established products due to creativity of persons who made this possible as some of the products mentioned.
To pick one from these examples, take the case of Thomas Edison’s incandescent bulb. Since the 1800’s when he invented this bulb, it transformed into a two-piece stopper lamp used my Nicholas Tesla (from the “Tesla, the Master of Lighting” DVD) that made him the winner of the “war of currents”. From then on, this source of light has transformed to fluorescent lamp, to CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) and now to LEDs. It is interesting to note here too that despite these transformations, all these lamps are still in use today.
Category Innovation (Deevi, Seetharama. 011) follows where customer needs and insights are taken into consideration. Examples provided are car service stations, lamp manufacturing and virtual bookstores where these innovations came as a support of the new discoveries to function and be maintained. A new product innovation will only lead to loss of utility if there will be no support to follow. The example of car shops here only shows that the invention of the car will not be as successful as it is now if these cars are to operate to break down in a short time if there will be no car shop to maintain them.
Marketplace Innovation (Deevi, Seetharama. 2011) comes next as a provision for the new market. Since the new product needs introductions and overview of its benefits or consumer needs, this expanded market would now require greater marketing thrust to reach the targeted customer. Examples given here are the more common iPhone and its App Store and the line of car models and colors that are offered by car manufacturers and their dealerships. The iPod, iPhone and iPad success is hard to miss.
Despite the fact that Sony’s Walkman came first to the market of music portability, the transition to these Apple products is amazing and has even created a cult loyalty to apple product users. Operational Innovation (Deevi, Seetharama. 2011) was described here as initiatives for improving the company operations. This innovation is driven by insights for specifically addressing operational efficiencies, effectiveness and the organizational profitability. An example given here was Dell’s inventory control system and assembly line automation.
I also remember Wal-Mart’s use of RFID in their inventory system where radio signals provide instant inventory count and update to their database system. “The Leadership Equation” (Deevi, Seetharama. 2011) mentions about the role of an effective leader to sustain the new product innovation. This is where the “view from the top” comes into an important role. It is clearly important at this point to define and create visions, establish expectations and identify leaders who can make these things happen.
This argument was supported by examples from Ford, Toyota, Apple and Hasbro. The authors concluded that the type of an effective leader here is described as someone who will have a different personality type compared with the typical everyday leader. The last part discussed the success and the failure of organizations in sustaining growth through innovations. They mentioned the expense of risk-taking and innovation when organizations started to focus more on cost-cutting and efficiency.
The authors argued that innovative leaders need freedom, empowerment and security to be able to utilize their innovativeness and required leadership to turn these products of creativity into commercial success. To prevent failure then emanating out of a new innovation, it is not only enough to concentrate on the product itself as a driver of growth and success, nor just on the leadership alone, but by the combination of these two. It is easy to see a failure emanating from a product innovation that does not appeal to the taste buds of consumers like a certain color of a car.
It is also easy to see a new product innovation that does not go on both manufacturing speed to lead the market thrust, like the PlayStation 3 that led to the success of the Blu-Ray format against the competing HD-DVD, and the marketing leadership like the Apple products that has led the market despite innovations by competing Androids. The combination of all these innovations will ensure success and economic growth for the firm who will sustain these efforts and investment. A bright idea alone is not a ticket for success.