COMN 3252 week 8-15 - Lecture notes COMN 3252 week 8-15...

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Moral Issues in Business
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Chapter 1 / Exercise 8
Moral Issues in Business
Barry/Shaw
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Lecture notes COMN 3252 week 8-15 Case studies/corporate social influence Greed, Inc., chapter 10 Artificial Ethics for Artificial People Treviño, Nelson, Managing Business Ethics Ch. 2—a current business school text Croteau and Hoynes “How Business Strategy Shapes Media Content”—as title success: applying what we’ve learned about corporations as artificial persons to the media industry Last week we looked into the structure of the cyber-corporation and tried to understand how it is that they frequently behave like psychopaths, when they are “run” by ordinary people. We saw that there is new science that examines “collective beings” such as swarms, flocks, herds, mobs, bureaucracies and other complex systems in which the individual units have agents--have agency. The behaviour of the collective cannot be explained by looking at the individual components—hence the study of the entire group as a collective being. The behaviour that is exhibited is called “emergent” behaviour, and when it is displayed consistently, it is called an emergent property (of a complex system). A defining characteristic of emergent properties is that they have the ability to act causally on the system from which they emerge . Hence mind states can alter brain states, etc. 1
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Moral Issues in Business
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Chapter 1 / Exercise 8
Moral Issues in Business
Barry/Shaw
Expert Verified
Corporations are “collective beings” in the technical sense that they are complex systems made up of multiple subsystems, each of which has cognitive powers—their employees and managers, which we now all human resources or human capital. You can look at corporations as a collection of individuals, but that will not explain the swarm behaviour… just as examining the individual organs of an animal’s body won’t explain life . So collective corporate behaviour is examined in its own terms as well. For example, bureaucracies are similar to living organisms in that both have goals of self-preservation and re-production (continually producing themselves, growing). They defend themselves, and they grow and reproduce. The behaviour of the organism as a whole is called “emergent,” because it emerges spontaneously from the complex system that is the bureaucracy. You could call the emergent behaviour a “culture,” in the sense of a culture defining and regulating behaviour of its individual members. In this powerful sense, the emergent property acts back on the system that produced it—by determining the behaviour of the individuals . The culture or emergent behaviour of a complex organization is determined mainly by its goals . We said one inherent goal is self-preservation and reproduction. 2
(Subtle distinction) But remember that bureaucracies are human creations, and are designed to serve a purpose—as in “the reason for which something is created, or for which something exists.”. So the purpose is also a powerful determinant of the culture that will emerge.

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