Is a Global Ethic Possible?
Atlanta Junction, Georgia, United States
The question is not if there can be a global ethic, rather are global leaders capable of embracing the “whole world” as advocated by Zweifel, (2003). The paradox and central tension of ethics is that while individuals are by nature communal and in need of others, at the same time they are also egocentric and self-serving (Ciulla, 2004). Ethics is a leadership issue, thus, the difficulty in developing a global ethic is that leadership is also ideologically driven or motivated by a certain philosophical perspective (Ciulla, 2004); such as an individualistic or collectivist cultural lens. The individualistic lens interprets the military-industrial complex as protecting the rights of the state and the individual by providing security and stability to a Nation. However, the collectivist view may interpret this massive enterprise as a power oriented structure designed to usurp the authority of other sovereign nations or entities. The United Nations, European Union, International Monetary Fund, and even the Red Cross might be viewed in a similar manner depending on ideological viewpoint.
The difficulty is not deciding which perspective is right or wrong, the issue is confronting the cultural and ideological dilemma of both positions being right. This puts the global leader in the unenviable position of constructing a new reality; one that acknowledges the emergence of increasing economic and social interdependence (Stagich, 2006). Leaders must realize they are one voice amongst many and there is never just one perspective or point of view (Adler, 2010). Global leaders must be adept at managing the tensions between global and local, between differentiated and integrated, and between varied cultures versus the organizational culture (Thomas, Bellin, Jules, & Lynton, 2012). Global leadership and the ethic that follows demand the ability to recognize and build on differences to create culturally synergy (Adler, 2002).
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