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Topic 8 DQ 1

Does systems thinking provide leaders with an advantage when considering how to make decisions ethically and anticipate the related consequences of those decisions? If so, how? If not, why not?

STUDENT ONE- Systems thinking can, in some instances, provide leaders with an advantage when considering how to make decisions ethically and anticipate the related consequences of those decisions, but it will depend, in large part, upon the operating worldview of the leader and those passing judgment on his/her decisions. Muff et al (2021) found that the learning and development of systems thinking by organizational CEOs helped to also develop ethics and values. However, those same CEOs who have developed greater understanding of systems theory through their years of experience do not necessarily exhibit higher levels of responsible leadership (p. 289). General Systems Theory, when paired with virtue ethics, can help leaders to make more ethically informed decisions that are less self-interested and more others’ focused (Friedland & Cole, 2019). However, the definition of what constitutes an ethically good decision will be rooted in the ontological and epistemological worldview of the beholder (Williams, 1998). For the Christian, the definitions of right and wrong are rooted in the Divinely revealed Word, namely Jesus (p. 87). Systems theory, paired with secularly informed virtue ethics, can sometimes provide leaders and advantage in ethical decision-making, but there are profound disagreements as to what is and is not good based upon one’s ontological, epistemological, and theological worldview.















Systems thinking provides leaders with an advantage when making decisions. Systems thinking emphasizes taking a holistic approach and understanding how the parts of complex processes interact and function (Brewster & Bucaro, 2020, p. 40). It takes a holistic view of an environment while still being able to focus on how the components of the environment work together, and has been developed and practiced with success in other disciplines (p. 41). However, there is a gap in the literature on the relationship between systems thinking and complex decision making (Maani & Maharaj, 2004, p.21). Systemic thinking is rooted in cognitive processes (p.22). The advantages of becoming aware of how systems work, and understanding what components are involved also enable the decision makers to anticipate behavior and react with efficiency and proactiveness (Chang & Chuang, 2018, p. 352). Systems thinking can depict complex, dynamic processes, and enhance the initiatives to respond to the decision makers’ needs (p. 355). Sustainable development uses systems thinking to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Kunsch et al., 2007, p. 254). Ethical decisions and consequences of decisions can be anticipated by using systems thinking.




















The relationships across and within stakeholder groups inform organizational practices, values, and decision-making processes. Systems thinking is the dominant theoretical perspective for managing multi-dimensional relationships within an organization (Klier et al., 2022). Stakeholder attributes influence organizational culture, change capability, and decision-making processes (Mugenyi et al., 2022). Discerning stakeholders’ proximity, investment, and motivation to achieve goals allow a leader to determine stakeholder influence and relevance in organizational practices (Almutairi et al., 2019). Leadership plays a significant role in influencing an organization’s culture of integrity and ethical accountability (Schwepker et al., 2021). An ethical climate invites collaboration and accountability among members of the organization leading to positive levels of organizational embeddedness and commitment (Grabowski, 2019; Lee et al., 2022). An ethically stable climate provides consistency and predictability in decision-making, explicitly states expectations for behavior and performance, and clearly outlines consequences or systems of support to address instances of ethical misconduct (Schwepker et al., 2021).  Leaders must determine strategic and ethically balanced program boundaries prioritizing attention and resource allocation to initiatives aligned with organizational objectives and values (Kujala et al., 2012; Papavasiliou & Gorod, 2022). Maintaining a holistic view of problem-solving and decision-making processes supports a leader when considering ethical decisions and their anticipated consequences.