A critique of compliance : towards implementing a critical self-reflective perspective

Keyser, Jean

Thesis (MA (Philosophy))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis entails a critical analysis of the concept of compliance. The latter can briefly be defined as rules and policies developed with regard to employee behaviour with the goal of controlling and monitoring unethical behaviour. This thesis presents a critical explication of compliance based on various levels of analysis. Firstly, this will be done by discussing the context of the historical development of compliance, stemming from and starting with the bureaucratization of the economy and the practical implementation thereof in business. The historical overview entails a discussion of the development of management models. This provides the context for explicating the problem that these management models are geared towards the restriction of the autonomous individual for the purpose of control. This is achieved through the removal of the individual agent’s responsibility over his/her work. The latter, however, elicits resistance from the employee which I discuss in terms of the implicit contract (between the employer and the employee). Initially, this problem of resistance was addressed by mechanization, but with the global shift towards a servicedriven economy such methods were no longer applicable. Moreover, this shift brought about the development and implementation of post-Fordist models of management, focused on human capital. It is then within this management model that compliance was developed as the most commonly used method of control. According to my argument then, compliance was initially implemented as a method of instilling ethical behaviour in business; however its practical application failed in achieving such promises. I argue that the reason for the failure of compliance pertains to the very definition thereof which does not make allowance for the individual moral agent. This is demonstrated by explicating the manner in which compliance is implemented, with specific reference to culture lag. This refers to the exponential growth of information and communication technology in which ethical measures to address the problems causes by the latter, could not develop with parallel speed. Compliance finds culture lag especially difficult to address, since the creativity of the individual moral agent that is cardinal to resolving the problem of culture lag, is not made allowance for in the structures of compliance. This is exacerbated by the importance given in the structures of compliance to controlling tacit knowledge, since the latter is increasingly considered as a form of capital within the service-driven economy. In the final instance, I argue that compliance stands directly opposed to the principles of ethics and as such fails to address the problem of unethical behaviour. A possible solution to this is considered when looking at ideas with reference to trust, self-respect and responsibility. The latter, in turn, yields a possible solution to the original problem, namely that the individual moral agent is not acknowledged in the structures of compliance, and in some cases even totally discarded.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis behels ‘n kritiese analise van die konsep van ‘compliance.’ Compliance kan in Afrikaans vertaal word as ‘inskiklikheid’ – maar word in ‘n besigheidskonteks gebruik om te verwys na die implementering van ‘n stel reëls, of ‘n spesifieke beleid, wat daarop gemik is om onetiese gedrag van werknemers te monitor en te beheer. Hierdie tesis bied ‘n kritiese ondersoek van ‘inskiklikheid,’ gegrond op verskillende vlakke van analise, wat insluit die historiese ontwikkeling van ‘inskiklikheid’, die burokratisering van die ekonomie, en die praktiese implikasies daarvan vir besigheid. In die historiese oorsig val die klem op die ontwikkeling van bestuursmodelle. Dit verleen ‘n konteks aan die probleem dat al die betrokke bestuursmodelle daarop gemik was om die outonomie van die individu te beperk, en daardeur beter beheer oor sy/haar aksies te verkry. Dit is gedoen deur die individu in die werksopset van sy/haar verantwoordelikheid te ontneem. Dit het egter die teenreaksie van weerstand by werknemers ontlok, wat bespreek word in die konteks van die implisiete kontrak (tussen werkgewer en werknemer). Hierdie probleem van weerstand, is aanvanklik deur toenemende meganisasie aangespreek. Maar in die konteks van die globale oorgang na 'n meer diens-gedrewe ekonomie, was meganisasie nie meer 'n volhoubare oplossing nie. Verder, binne 'n diens-gedrewe ekonomie word idees van menslike kapitaal op prys gestel, soos in die bestuursmodel wat hierdie fase kenmerk, naamlik ‘post-Fordism’. Dit is binne hierdie konteks dat inskiklikheid ontwikkel het as die algemeenste manier waarop beheer oor werkers uitgeoefen word. Volgens my argument is inskiklikheid aanvanklik ge-implementeer as ‘n metode om etiese gedrag binne ‘n besigheidskonteks te handhaaf. Inskiklikheid het egter nie aan hierdie verwagting voldoen nie. Die rede hiervoor is dat inskiklikheid teenstrydig is met die konsep van die individuele morele agent. Dit word duidelik as die wyse waarop dit ge-implementeer word, ondersoek word, spesifiek aan die hand van die voorbeeld van die ‘kultuurgaping’ [‘culture lag’]. Laasgenoemde verwys na die gaping tussen nuwe tegnologie en etiese respos wat ontstaan as gevolge van die eksponensiële groei in kommunikasie- en informasietegnologie en die oënskynlike onvermoë van besighede om dit in hul etiese beleid aan te spreek. Bydraend tot die probleem is dat die kreatiwiteit van die individuele morele agent wat voortdurend benodig benodig word om hierdie gaping te oorkom, nie in die strukture van inskiklikheid erken word nie. Dit is veral belangrik, inaggenome die toenemende belangrikheid wat in die strukture van inskiklikheid verleen word aan die beheer van implisiete kennis [‘tacit knowledge’], omdat dit in binne die diensgedrewe eknomie toenemend as kapitaal beskou kan word. In die laaste instansie argumenteer ek dat ‘inskiklikheid’ direk teenstrydig is met die beginsels van etiek, en misluk dit as ’n metode om die probleem van ‘culture lag’ sowel as ander kwessies op te los. ’n Mootlike oplossing word ondersoek waneer idees rondom vertroue, self-respek en verantwoordelikheid verken word. Met verwysing na laasgenoemde is dit moontlik om die oospronklike rede vir weerstand aan te spreek, naamlik dat die individuele morele agent deur ‘inskiklikheid’ oor die hoof gesien word, en dit selfs in sekere opsigte heeltemal agterweë gelaat word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4279
This item appears in the following collections: