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Any new hire within the company structure should understand what is expected of them. It allows a new employee to conduct themselves according to the merits found in the best interest of the organization, its partners, clients and shareholders. This alignment can be achieved in multiple ways. This includes a published code of ethics, a mission statement, and an overarching company vision to name a few. A Vision Let’s start with the most general first: The Vision Statement. A vision statement is a brief description of what an organization aims to achieve within a given scope of the future. Typically this scope is a middle term or an intangible long term future. As an example, Amerigen Pharmaceuticals publicly indicates their vision is “to be at the forefront of [their] industry in bringing complex oral generic products to patients in the markets [they] serve”. They then go on to state their “target products are carefully selected to ensure [their] resources, expertise and energy are focused on the opportunities that can bring the most benefit to all our stakeholders”. And finally that they “rely on great science and passionate execution to bring [those] opportunities to fruition”. In these three short sentences Amerigen has indicated a number of things. Their vision is a long term one which is continuously acted upon in the short term. It also perpetually unattainable in that it will never be finished. The company will always have a purpose in seeking to bring their products to the patients they serve, and all who represent or know it will understand they seek to do this in a precise, utilitarian approach. A Mission Statement As we zoom into the scope of purpose we find a mission statement.
While an organization’s vision is a global view of what it aims to achieve, its mission statement is instead what its purpose is and why it seeks these end goals. It is said that a mission statement really serves two purposes. The first is elucidating what is fundamentally sought by the organizers of the company itself. In bringing Vision, Mission & Ethics in Organizations these organizers together to discuss their mission statement roles and responsibilities may be delineated. The second purpose a mission statement serves is then to communicate this both to future members of the organization and to stakeholders as well. It will express its understanding of the communities needs and how its own skills, resources and capacities may align to fulfill those needs. That is, concisely put, mission statements define the nature, purpose, and role of organizations, focus resources, and guide planning (Keeling, 2013). A mission statement unifies the members or employees under its purview. It is a public statement on the goals of the company along with the manner in which those goals may be addressed and in which manners. In that regard a mission statement functions as a prioritization of which issues to focus on. Due to its potentially public nature, it permits outsiders to know and understand where an organization is coming from philosophically and what they hope to achieve. A Code of Ethics Zooming out still further we come upon a code of ethics. This is the core on which the others rest. Broadly speaking the code of ethics directs a method of how various entities within the organization should confront various situations. Of course its breadth and length could be as terse or encompassing as the organization chooses. But why have a code of ethics? Business is not always black or white.
There are many gray areas which present themselves over time and without proper guidance an organization’s members could lose site or differ on how to handle what may even become common place gray areas. These inconsistencies create an avoidable stress both for the public and the entities directly involved with the organization. Unity These three things, vision, mission, and a code of ethics, come together to form the backbone of an organization’s purpose, breadth, and response. They could help to predict why a company will decide to expand into a new technology or field, or to not expand. It helps both outsiders and insiders Vision, Mission & Ethics in Organizations alike to understand the course of action an organization may take. This understanding builds reliability and comfort for stability and longevity. However, these matters are not always as straight forward as they sound. Ethics is not always cut and dry, black or white. For instance, in criminology there are two main categories into which crimes may fall. These are ones which all societies agree are wrong, known in Latin as “mala in se”, and those which are considered wrong only because society deems so, known as “mala prohibita”. This simple distinction between just these two criminal categories already raises questions. Surely there are ethical concerns which we all agree should be deemed wrong and not pursued. But are there concerns which are only wrong because our society says so? What if our society deems it acceptable but another society does not? Should the organization become an international one, are the disagreements with another’s ethics rectified only within their soil? Furthering this, Marques indirectly puts forth the question, should a business follow consequentialism (utilitarian approach) or a deontological approach. In consequentialism you would be expected to do what is best for the most people. From a business perspective this could rephrased as what is best for the company.
However, with a deontological approach you would do what is considered “right” regardless of any penalties which may exist for doing so. As an example as to how that may be implausible at times, if one were to follow deontology to its extremes they would never lie. As far as a code of ethics Marques leaves the reader with several points to consider. What one considers ethical may be based on their cultural background. This could lead to some philosophies and practices being difficult for the diversified international businesses of today to implement. Coming back to the utilitarian (consequentialist) versus the deontologist, a simple dilemma is worth considering. Should a business lay off 10% of the workforce to save the remaining 90%, proving themselves to be a universalist, or should they attempt to refrain from doing so even if it may be putting all at risk, proving themselves to be a deontologist. Vision, Mission & Ethics in Organizations Conclusion In the aforementioned vision of Amerigen Pharmaceuticals they indicated that they wanted their resources, expertise and energy to be focused on the opportunities that could bring the most benefit to all their stakeholders. Is this a consequentialism or is it universalism? It is easy to discuss bringing benefits while a much more difficult task lies in how to deal with costs. Without their vision an investor may be left to wonder what future treatments they will pursue, or which mode of action will their medicines be. With they favor and focus on only one disease because they value the benefit those suffering from it with derive from this endeavor, or will they focus on a multitude of diseases ensuring that low cost alternatives (generics) are available to all. These seemingly simple company statements give insight into their thoughts and in crafting them they revealed both to us and themselves where were coming from and where they hope to continue to head. These statements alone are not enough, however. A unifying code of ethics which stipulates in a more precise and formal manner how their business, research and interactions should be conducted must still exist under the surface.
Through this a higher degree of granularity can be achieved with more nuanced matters. Should they favor the environment and avoid research which involves radioactivity? Should they favor efficacy and ensure a substantially large clinical trial is conducted or should they favor bringing their drug to market as soon as possible to help those in need who would otherwise suffer during the lengthy clinical trial? A middle ground may be found where only those in dire circumstances will circumvent the clinical trial processes. But for both the members of the organization itself and those on the outside, it is best to fundamentally understand where these decisions come from before the organization is faced with them directly. In an effort to ensure this is done, a vision, mission statement and code of ethics are drafted.
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