Detlev Six
Tuesday March 2nd, 2010

Efficiency and Morals.

Siemens pays slush money. Telekom listens in. Käßmann drives a Phaeton.
They do the right thing. They are being efficient.

There is hardly a doubt about the definition of justice and morals. Not for managers. As a general rule, they know pretty well what is expected of them in our democratic society.

The problem for them is more how to behave morally and not feel stupid.

In a world determined by efficiency where those who behave ethically are often at a disadvantage, it gets harder and harder to be ethical.

Siemens acts efficiently (“doing the right thing”), in that such a huge, old enterprise 
cannot compete on the market without paying slush money.

Telekom acts efficiently, because as a former 
monopolist, they have to fight heroically against 
eroding market shares. The managers see the listening in 
as a chance to maintain market shares.

Frau Käßmann acts efficiently when (probably) accepting the gift of an unsuccessful but valuable car. Otherwise, she would have to call the Protestant inefficient for having to buy her a car.

Old, huge, hopeless.

They all are caught in a moral dilemma. For them, having the moral 
guillotine at their throats is less detrimental 
than being called inefficient.

Is there no way out? But certainly.

Replace the efficiency culture by effectiveness ( „doing the right 
things“). In other words: act autonomously,
keep inventing yourself anew, and do not wait until the (old) market situation 
undermines morals. Instead: constantly find new markets.

The goal is to have new products to distribute all the time.

It is possible for small, director-oriented enterprises. Or huge, director-oriented enterprises like Apple. But management-oriented large concerns cannot do it.

They still exist, the niches of morality.

(Translated by EG)

Recommended articles:

On efficiency – and efficient culture:
Ein Lob dem Einheits-Manager“.

On efficient managers:
Radio Philosophy “slave moral” (Sklavenmoral).

On requirements for ethical behaviour:
Radio Philosophy „ethics” Ethik.

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