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According to Organizational Behavior (OB, 2005), decision making is defined as the process of choosing a course of action for dealing with a problem or opportunity. There are several steps that occur in the decision making process. First, one must recognize and define the problem or opportunity. Second, one must identify and analyze alternative courses of action and estimate their effects. Third, choose a preferred course of action. Fourth, implement the preferred course of action. Finally, evaluate the results and follow up as required. This process seems to be fairly simple but can become extremely complex when outside factors are considered. As the Information Age come about an increasing amount of work-related stress can be linked to technology. The ease of information access and the troubles generated by this information has had a profound effect on stress in the workplace. The effects of ethics on decision making and the impact technology has on work-related stress are both trends in organizational behavior that vary according to the times in which each occurs.
Decisions are usually made using a structured method which allows the decision maker to rationalize his or her options and analyze the situation so that the best decision can be made. When ethical dilemmas are introduced, the process if often becomes complicated and can result in the normal process being foregone in favor of emotional or rash decisions. Often risk and uncertainty is present during these ethically challenging decisions. It is up to the person or persons making the decision to ultimately decide if the decision made will be an ethical one. Many times the person making the decision must choose between the ethical approaches, even if it means hurting the organization, or the unethical approach which goes against personal and organizational beliefs but will benefit the organization.
Take stem cell research, for example. Some politicians have refused to support funding stem cell research and have even attempted to set limits on the amount of research to be considered legal. In Maryland recently a bill was introduced to fund stem cell research. Several State Senators attempted a filibuster to prevent the approval of the bill and would have effectively prevented the funding (Berman, 2006). The politicians in this case must make a decision to either support or oppose the authorization of funding for stem cell research. This decision has strong ethical attachments. Should the funding be approved so that lives might be saved in the future?
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Computer games are another source of distraction for workers. When computers were first introduced into the workplace they were preloaded with games provided by the software manufacturer which were originally intended to enhance mouse skills became a wildly popular way to spend a good portion of the workday. The month of March poses another serious problem. With the NCAA college basketball tournament in full swing, many workers spend working hours monitoring websites that provide real time scores and updates. It is estimated that $3.8 billion in worker productivity will be lost during this year's tournament (Zucco, 2006). This figure is mainly due to the easy access most workers have to the internet or television and the fact that most games are played during regular business hours. This creates not only stress in the workplace for employers but it also shows how technology can be used to reduce rather than enhance production.
Trends in organizational behavior area often times tied to the current times. With the advancement of technology comes additional stress for employees and employers alike. The stress can come from many factors related to technology, whether it be the seemingly endless amounts of emails, the wasted dollars spent tracking college basketball games, or the stress that is sure to come when machines fail, one thing is certain technology can hinder as well as it can help. The same applies for ethical dilemmas in the decision making process. As times change so do people's morals and ethical values. Decisions involving ethical issues are subject to the interpretation of ethical standards in place at the time the decision is to be made. As times change, so do the trends that relate to organizational behavior.
Schmermerhorn, J., Hunt, J., & Osborn, R. (2005). Organizational Behavior. Indianapolis, IN: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Berman, D. (2006, March 9). Filibuster ends to fund stem cell research in Maryland. The Daily Record. Baltimore, MD. p. 1.
Kinsman, M. (2006, March 12). Reply to all' can be a setback to technology's gains. The San Diego Union Tribune. San Diego, CA. p. H2.
Zucco, T. (2006, March 17). $3,793,910,400: How much employers lose while you're watching NCAA tournament. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. p. 1.