NPL 273  Introduction to Nonprofit Leadership

Readings from The Jossey-Bass Handbook of Nonprofit Leadership and Management, Robert Herman ed. (1994)

Ch. 9  Ethics in Nonprofit Management:  Creating a Culture of Integrity, Thomas H. Jeavons


I.                    What are “ethics”?

a.       Definitional issues

                                                               i.      Comes from “ethos”

                                                             ii.       Two standards:

1.      Moral absolutes (what are we obligated to do?)

2.      Community standards and expectations (what does society require or expect of us?)

b.      Professional Ethics

                                                               i.      Commited to pursuing dominant values that define the goals of the profession

                                                             ii.      Expected to pursue those goals on social as well as individual level

                                                            iii.      Expected to pursue those goals even at expense of self-interest

c.       Misunderstanding professional ethics

                                                               i.      It is a trap to argue for ethics from practical benefits—practical benefit is most easily undermined in just those situations where sound ethical choices are most difficult or most important to make.

II.                 Core Values and their origins in the voluntary sector

a.       Must respond to two key problems:

                                                               i.      Contract failure—nature of service to be provided makes one unable to judge the quality of the service

                                                             ii.      Agency problem—one is not in a position to see that why one wants to have done or to have happen will, in fact, occur.

b.      Core values:

                                                               i.      Trust

                                                             ii.      Caring (willing to put public good and welfare of others ahead of one’s own gain or comfort)

III.               Ethical Management in an ethical organization

a.       Two levels—individual & organizational

b.      Integrity—continuity between appearance and reality

c.       Openness—“derivative virtue” based on social expectations, but undergirds other ethical behavior

d.      Accountability—ready to explain and generally be accountable for choices. 

                                                               i.      Organization has obligation to perform according to promise, be subject to evaluation, and to answer for failure to perform

                                                             ii.      Individuals should hold themselves accountable to the Board and work to build a Board that will hold them accountable

e.       Service—give precedence to fulfilling the mission of the organization over possibilities for advancing their own status or career (“servant leadership”)

f.        Charity—based on reciprocity—putting the welfare of others on par with one’s own

IV.              Operationalizing ideals and creating a culture of integrity

a.       Most effective controls achieved by shaping (or selecting people for) their basic “premises” about organizational & professional goals & practices

b.      Lead by example

c.       Establish relationship between reward system and structures and ethical behavior



© 2004 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 5 July 2004