Moral Development and Organisational Behavior
STAGES OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT
The behaviour of individuals (and even groups) in an organisation will vary widely from person to person and will depend on their stage of moral development in a particular situation. Kohlberg offers a handy framework for delineating the stage each of us has reached with respect to personal moral development which guide our behaviours in both personal and organisational situations.
Stage 1. Physical consequences determine moral behaviour. At this stage of personal moral development, the individual’s ethical behaviour is driven by the decision to avoid punishment or by deference to power. Punishment is an automatic response of physical retaliation. The immediate physical consequences of an action determine its goodness or badness. Such moral behaviour is seen in cadets at service training academics where physics punishment techniques are prevalent with a view to inculcate the attributes of obedience and deference to power.
Stage 2. Individual needs dictate moral behaviour. At this stage, a person’s needs are the person’s primary concern. The right action consists of what instrumentally satisfies your own needs. People are valued in terms of their utility. Example: “I will help him because he may help me in return – you scratch my back, I will scratch yours.”
Stage 3. Approval of others determines moral behaviour. This stage is characterized by decision where the approval of others determines the person’s behaviour. Good behaviour is that which pleases or helps others within the group. The good person satisfies family, friends and associates. “Everybody is doing it, so it must be okay.” One earns approval by being conventionally “respectable” and “nice.” Sin is a breach of the expectations of the social order – “log kya kahenge?”
Stage 4. Compliance with authority and upholding social order are a person’s primary ethical concerns. “Doing one’s duty” is the primary concern. Consistency and precedence must be maintained. Example: “I comply with my superior’s instructions because it is wrong to disobey a senior officer,” Authority is seldom questioned. “Even if I feel that something may be unethical, I will unquestioningly obey all orders and comply with everything my boss says because I believe that the boss is always right.”
Stage 5. Tolerance for rational dissent and acceptance of rule by the majority becomes the primary ethical concern. Example: “Although I disagree with her views. I will uphold her right to have them.” The right action tends to be defined in terms of general individual rights, and in terms of standards that have been critically examined and agreed upon by the whole society. The freedom of the individual should be limited by society only when it infringes upon someone else’s freedom.
Stage 6. What is right is viewed as a matter of individual conscience, free choice and personal responsibility for the consequences. Example: “There is no external threat that can force me to make a decision that I consider morally wrong.” An individual who reaches this stage acts out of universal ethical principles.
Moral development is in no way correlated with intellectual development or your position in the hierarchy or factors like rank/seniority/status/success. Also, this dynamic in nature and your stage of moral development will vary from situation to stituation.
In a nutshell, the six stages of Moral Development may be summarized as follows:
FEAR – Stage 1
NEEDS – Stage 2
CONFORMANCE – Stage 3
COMPLIANCE – Stage4
CONSENSUS – Stage 5
CONSCIENCE & FREE WILL – Stage 6
As you will infer, the Moral Development concept seems to be linked with various content theories of motivation like Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Model by Maslow, Dual Factor Theory by Herzberg and Achievement Motivation Model by McClleland and you must try and draw linkages between the two.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2011
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
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About Vikram Karve
A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures(2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 14 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.
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