Professional Work Values in Islam

Executive summary

Work ethics is critical to the success of the organization. Work ethics is defined differently in relation to organization and the larger environmental factors. In countries such as Kuwait, religious work ethics plays a critical role in the general functioning of the organization. According to the general operations manager of ex DHL Kuwait, applying Islamic-based professional, ethical values greatly influenced the organizational businesses processes such as job performance, commitment, profitability as well as corporate social responsibility. In fact, Islamic values greatly influenced employees’ performances, commitment, and profitability, which in turn increased the competitive advantage of the firm.

Moreover, according to the manager, Islamic based professional, ethical values are highly practiced in order to realize positive returns as well as relations with the stakeholders. The manager asserted that over 75% of the organization’s practices are related to Islamic values. Moreover, ethical values based on the expectations and cultures of society are critical for the success of the organization.

The brief background of the manager

The interviewee is the general manager and Chief Operations Officer (COO) of ex DHL Kuwait in charge of operations with over three hundred employees under his supervision. The COO has been with the firm for over fifteen years and has overseen various changes in the business processes of the organization. The operations manager holds a postgraduate diploma in human resources management and a master’s degree in operations management. Besides, the COO has vast experience in various business processes. Moreover, the COO has held various leadership positions in the organization and has been part of various changes that have taken place in the organization. The COO has been involved in the establishment of cultural values and moral frameworks that form the current ethical codes of conduct of the firm.

The findings of the questionnaire

According to the findings, the manager agreed that observing religious values improved job performance in the organization. In addition, the manager agreed that even if the organization’s returns were to be affected negatively, some ethical behaviors should be observed within the organization. Similarly, the manager strongly agreed that applying ethical work values is likely to enhance employees’ job performance. Moreover, ethical behaviors are recognized and rewarded in the organization. However, the manager was moderate in terms of encouraging employees to practice Islamic business ethics while performing their tasks. The manager’s moderate agreement is in line with Al-Owaihan and Ali (2008) assertions that employees are free to practice their respective religious practices so long as their actions are within the standard code of conduct.

On the other hand, the manager disagreed that Islamic business ethics are considered by the organization as being important in solving work problems. Similarly, the disagreement was also observed when applied ethical behaviors within the organization need to be related to religion as well as where the hiring of employees is based on how the new recruits apply Islamic based work values. According to the manager, such actions should not be affiliated with a religion. Inculcating religious ideals in such practices would portray the organization as being discriminatory (Beekun & Badawi, 2005).

Further findings indicated that employees should always be honest, truthful, and the management fulfills all promises and commitments to eliminate fraud and cheating within the organization. Moreover, a strong agreement was observed on the unacceptability of the use of bribery, even under the circumstances that the business culture allowed such practices. The manager was moderate in having higher Islamic work ethics to create loyalty among employees. Further, the manager was in the opinion that employee loyalty largely depends on good governance. In addition, the moderate view was observed in situations where Islamic values should be preferred over standard laws in case of conflict. However, the manager agreed with all other items. Most importantly, a good reputation was highly encouraged by performing Islamic ethical values by organizations, particularly while operating in Kuwait. Moreover, unethical behavior needed to be punished through an established compliance system (Beekun & Badawi, 2005).

The findings of essay questions

Daily practiced ethical behavior

Employees were expected to observe various behavioral aspects in their daily activities and relationships within the organization. The behaviors must be in line with the organization’s values and culture. Most importantly, individual values were taken into consideration. Emphasizing individual values enabled employees to have respect for one another, management, and the organization. In addition, employees need to uphold values that lead to avoidance of lapses in workplace ethics. The most common practiced workplace ethics are the avoidance of conflicts of interest, fraud, sexual immorality, as well as providing insider information. In essence, moral virtues are highly upheld and widely practiced by employees.

Important ethical behaviors in the workplace

Ali and Al-Kazemi (2007) postulated that behaviors considered ethical within the organization are numerous. The most important moral conduct entails honest practices. In reality, honesty, impartiality, incorrupt practices, avoidance of conflict of interest, respect, and upholding the firm’s values are all considered important. In other words, practices that take into contemplation organization and individual values, as well as cultures, are critical for the organization’s success.

Monopoly in the workplace

Monopoly within the workplace exists when a particular enterprise or an individual has sufficient control over a particular service or product to determine significantly the terms on which other individuals shall have access to it. According to Kumar and Rose (2010), in the context of the organization and ethical values, a monopoly exists when an individual employee, department, or management has sufficient control over information, expertise, authority, and business processes to determine how other employees, departments or individuals shall have access.

Islamic work ethics as a competitive advantage to the organization in Kuwait

Like any other ethical practice in the workplace, Islamic work ethics are significant for the success and attainment of the organizational goals. In Kuwait, religious practices are highly valued, particularly based on the Islamic background (Beekun & Badawi, 2005). Therefore, the values of the organizations based on the Islamic background are a competitive advantage. The reason is that most people would always associate themselves with such organizations. As such, organizational work ethics would be drawn from the local belief system based on Islamic religious practices and values.

Dealing with the employee receiving a bribe

Al-Owaihan and Ali (2008) put forward corruption as one of the most considered unethical behaviors in organizations. Receiving bribes is one of the forms of corruption that the organization discourages. The manners in which such cases are dealt with are spelled out in the compliance programs within the codes of conduct. However, an employee who engages in unethical behavior, particularly corrupt practices, normally undergoes a series of disciplinary actions that culminate into dismissal. The process begins by suspension while investigations are undertaken. The employee is called before a disciplinary committee for self-defense. Once found guilty by the disciplinary committee, the employee is fired.

Encouraging employees to behave ethically while performing their tasks

Employees are, at all times, encouraged to uphold ethical behaviors and values in all their undertakings within the organization. In accordance with Beekun and Badawi’s (2005) study, the attainment of such ethical standards requires the organization to establish a culture that encourages respect for individual and organization values. In addition, the organization constantly trains employees on the best practices that promote good behavior and augment competitive advantage to the organization. Moreover, collective and collaborative participation in the organization’s activities also encourages the employees to uphold behaviors that culminate into good conduct. Generally, the organizational culture, constant training on ethical codes of conduct, and values encourage employees to uphold ethical behaviors while performing their daily activities.

Whether the organization has a written code of ethics

Al-Owaihan and Ali (2008) argued that any organization that upholds ethical behaviors and conducts in the work processes should have well-written and specified codes of conduct. As such, the organization has written codes of conduct that specify the expected behavior of the organization’s stakeholders. The codes of conduct are based on values, standards, and principles that encourage good practices and behaviors within the organization. Moreover, the codes of conduct are based on the organization’s core values and principles, mission, and goals, as well as the expectations and culture of the society.

Key sources that the company should follow to apply ethical behavior

The ethical conduct of an organization is mainly derived from its culture (Beekun & Badawi, 2005). The cultural dimensions of an organization are broad. However, the dimensions that define leadership and individual behavior are critical in determining the ethical behaviors of an organization. Essentially, cultural dimensions that take into consideration individual values and capabilities are vital in shaping individual behaviors within the organization. Besides cultural dimensions, ethical behaviors are derived from the organization’s values, standards, principles as well as the belief system of the society. Most importantly, the organization should adhere to the code of conduct as guidance to ethical behaviors.

The consequences of not applying ethical work values

Ethical standards govern individual behaviors, which are geared towards attaining organizational goals (Al-Owaihan & Ali, 2008). In other words, upholding work values are critical in attaining the required precincts for the success of the organization. On the contrary, under the circumstances that work values are lacking, the individual instead of organizational goals are attained. The consequences of not attaining the organization’s goals are calamitous.

The most common unethical behavior

As indicated, unethical behavior within the organization is numerous, ranging from sexual immoral relationship to conflict of interest. However, some unethical conducts are common in the workplace (Beekun & Badawi, 2005). Such behaviors include engaging in clandestine procedures, showing overconfidence in self-judgments, disloyalty, poor quality in performance as well as apathy in goal attainment, engaging in humiliating or stereotyping actions, prejudice, chauvinism and discrimination, favoritism as well as suppression of individual rights and freedoms. Unethical conducts are common in almost all organizations.

The most violated business ethical conduct in current Kuwait organizations

Currently, Kuwaiti organizations are embracing business conduct. However, in as much as the organizations’ business conducts condemn discrimination in business dealings, most organizations still find difficulty in adhering to the discrimination regulations (Al-Owaihan & Ali, 2008). Discrimination is still rampant within organizations operating in Kuwait, particularly the businesses that are of Kuwaiti origin. Contracts are still being given depending on the origin of the organization or when the firm is associated and known to the ruling family. In other words, there is no fairness in awarding contracts, which is unethical according to universal business codes of conduct.

Whether “Wasta” is an ethical practice

The question of whether “Wasta” being ethical or not largely depends on the organization. Though commonly practiced throughout the Middle East, the practice is a form of discrimination (Ali & Al-Kazemi, 2007). The actions based on the ideology encourage nepotism, bigotry, and unfairness in conducting business processes. As such, “Wasta” insinuates discrimination, which most organizations consider as unethical business conduct. Therefore, “Wasta” is an unethical business conduct that perpetuates discrimination and related behaviors.

Conclusion

Strong business ethics remained critical to the growth and development of the organization. Most businesses agreed that promoting good ethical standards based on the values of society is one of the key success factors. The reason is that strong business ethics have a direct influence on the organization’s efficiency, reputation, as well as the employees’ relationships. Incorporating strong business ethics as well as social responsibility in the organization’s mission and vision statement is the beginning of promoting these values in general conduct and practices. Therefore, the human resources management must design and put programs in their employment procedures and train employees on the business code of conducts and ethics as well as on the importance of having strong business ethics.

References

Ali, A. & Al-Kazemi, A. (2007). Islamic work ethic in Kuwait. Journal of Management Development, 14(2), 366-75.

Al-Owaihan, A. & Ali, A. J. (2008). Islamic work ethic: a critical review. Cross Cultural Management Development, 14(6), 5-19.

Beekun, R. I. & Badawi, J. A. (2005). Balancing ethical responsibility among multiple organisational stakeholders: the Islamic perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 60(6), 131-145.

Kumar, N. & Rose, R. C. (2010). Examining the link between Islamic work ethic and innovation capability. Journal of Management Development, 29(1), 79-93.