Course Code

February 7, 2019 0 Comment

Course Code:BUAD 822
Course Tutor:Dr. Kabiru Jinjiri
Freedom of speech is the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc.

The use and spread of information technologies has been revolutionized and aided with the emergence and development of computer technologies. Electronic networks have allowed exchange of information but it has also come with new challenges. Rights and responsibilities in the way available information is used have given rise to some ethical dilemmas. Ethical dilemmas greatly affect businesses and especially small businesses that may not have big capital outlays and expertise to deal with ethical dilemmas in the utilization of technologies.

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As information system use becomes more widespread and more individuals and organizations rely on the internet as a means of conducting business, it becomes ever more important to assure that the internet is a place where privacy is protected.

Additionally, as organizations rely more on information systems, they become vulnerable to attacks on these precious technologies. These are just some of the ethical issues professionals face when dealing with information systems and emerging technologies. Although often overlooked, ethical decision-making is an important issue for all organizations and individuals in the arena of information technologies. In order to better understand the ethical dilemmas facing professionals and private citizens and appreciate their consequences, researchers, practitioners and academics must have access to the latest thinking and practice concerning ethics and information systems.

Problem of the Research
In recent years, the Management Information Systems has seen a great technological revolution in terms of software used, the nature of dealing with this software and its mechanisms and employment in the service of various administrative actions, what make necessary to increase supervision over the work of this software, whether self-censorship stemming from the persons themselves or by the direct administrative control.

Importance of the Research
The importance of this research come from the growing importance of the role of management information systems in management, whether public or private, as well as the significant rise in depending on the new software and development it daily for the development of management information systems work. Also, the importance of this research come from the necessity of ethical controls governing how to deal with this software and development to appropriate the needs of various administrative and prevent the inappropriate or bad use of the software, or use techniques that are in violation of the ethics of information systems.

Purpose of the Research
This research aims to discuss the role of ethics in management information systems, by discussing the main features of ethics in information systems and management information systems; and how the ethical behavior may improve the ways we use the management information systems. And thus, increase the efficiency of administrative work, which relies on these systems.

Questions of the Research
This research trying to find the answer to the following questions:
What are ethics?
What are business ethics?
What the role of ethics in Information Systems in general?
What the main features of using ethics issues in information systems?
How Management Information Systems should deal with ethics?
Ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the determination of what is right or wrong, good or bad. To behave ethically is to live one’s life in accordance with a set of ethical principles, which are based, ultimately, on moral values.

The word ethics is derived from the Greek root ethos, meaning character. Ethics is a suite of guiding beliefs, standards, or ideals that pervades an individual or a group or community of people. All individuals are accountable to their community for their behavior. The community can exist in such forms as a city, state, nation, or profession. Unlike morals, ethics can vary considerably from one community to another.

A glance at the dictionary indicates that ethics deal with “what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation”; some researchers point out that three interrelated meanings are usually associated with the term “ethics”. The first focuses on fundamental principles of moral behavior that should apply, at least in theory, to everyone. The second refers to principles of conduct developed by, and for, members of a particular profession. The third involves the systematic study of the beliefs people hold, and the behaviors they exhibit, relevant to morality.

Despite an explosion of interest in business ethics, there is no universally accepted definition. According to Taylor (1975), ethics may be defined as “inquiry into the nature and grounds of morality where the term morality is taken to mean moral judgments, standards, and rules of conduct.” Thus, business ethics refers to inquiry into the nature and grounds of moral judgments, standards and rules of conduct in situations involving business decisions. Arlow and Ulrich (1980) suggested that ethical situations in business, as compared to ethical situations in general, involve greater complexities and have some unique properties. These complexities might include things such as societal expectations, fair competition and social responsibilities, whereas the unique properties of business ethics might include all of the potential consequences of an individual’s actions on others, including customers, employees and competitors. Thus, within a business context ethical conflict is virtually inherent since the individual decision maker has responsibilities and duties to various diverse groups whose interests are often inconsistent. Included among these groups is the individual’s own self-interest as well.

Ethics and Information Systems
Ethics represent basic societal values and assume that our society functions on trust. We trust that others will fulfill commitments they make with us. As ethical behavior engenders trust, unethical behavior destroys it. Technology of some type has always been used to control the content and flow of information, but the technology itself is ethically neutral. It is critical for information systems professionals to understand this concept and realize that it is the users of the technology who make the ethical decisions. The notion of the computer or information system in the back room, unseen and unaffected by other activities in the firm, is becoming outdated. When information systems personnel engage in unethical behavior, the entire organization suffers. Increasing scrutiny of these operations by both management and outside parties will make it difficult to hide behind comments such as: “Our job is to ensure the integrity of the data. Use of the data is not our job”.

For firms to operate ethically, there must be a climate conducive to ethical behavior in the society. Former IBM Chairman John Akers stated: “Ethics and competitiveness are inseparable. We compete as a society. No society anywhere will compete very long or successfully with people stabbing each other in the back… There is no escaping this fact: The greater the measure of mutual trust and confidence in the ethics of a society, the greater its economic strength” (Grier 1991). An ethically conducive environment is created by the people in the environment. If the people of a society expect firms to act ethically, they must act ethically.

Ethics is required in information Systems to overcome the following ethical issues:
Privacy: What information about one’s self or one’s associations must a person reveal to others, under what conditions and with what safeguards? What things can people keep to themselves and not be forced to reveal to others?
Accuracy: Who is responsible for the authenticity, fidelity and accuracy of information? Similarly, who is to be held accountable for errors in information and how is the injured party to be made whole?
Property: Who owns information? What are the just and fair prices for its exchange? Who owns the channels, especially the airways, through which information is transmitted? How should access to this scarce resource be allocated?
Accessibility: What information does a person or an organization have a right or a privilege to obtain, under what conditions and with what safeguards?
Exploring the ethics issues in information systems
Information systems confront society with a variety of challenges of an ethical nature, some old and some new.

1) Confidentiality: Some graduates of Information System (IS) classes will one day build systems for a living; all graduates will be users of information systems. Confidentiality of information is important for all information-using professions.

Some solutions to securing data, such as requiring the use of a password to access data and providing passwords only on a need-to-know basis are fairly straight forward. But concomitant ethical issues, such as deciding who needs to know, are not so simple to address. For example, should managers have access to their supervisee’s medical records or psychological profiles? If one employee discovers that another employee contemplates suicide, should a supervisor be informed and whose supervisor? What is the proper response to a police request for information about an employee, vendor, or customer?
The possibility of matching of data from various databases confounds this issue. Database matching occurs when information is collected from more than one database to locate persons who match some criterion.

2) Social responsibility of programmers and of their managers: An important ethical question that students should confront is whether programmers have an obligation to act in a socially responsible manner. Berkeley (1962) explores this issues in depth. May a free-lance programmer ethically work for a thief? If not, how about working on a computer project that is legal, but unethical, such as the one used to intern Americans of Japanese origin during the WW II? Is all that is legal ethical? Are all ethical decisions legal?
3) Social responsibility of systems analysts: An analyst’s job is to design work flows that are efficient one result of an analyst’s work can be that people will lose their jobs? Is such conduct ethical? Some jobs that analysts design, such as full-time VDT operators’ jobs, are known to be highly stressful and cause harm to the worker. Should analysts create such jobs?
Research has shown that computer monitoring of workers (number of keystrokes per hour, number of telephone calls responded to per hour) increases productivity of the worker. Is such activity an invasion of privacy? Should an analyst refuse to implement a system that creates computer monitoring or that involves privacy?
4) Issues common to all managers: Should information system managers refuse gifts from a vendor? Should the manager refuse a cup of coffee or a coffee cup? Is free literature to educate the manager legitimate? a free vendor course? a free course, travel paid, held in Hawaii? What should you do if your boss appears to be making a bad business decision because of a bribe? Is it legitimate to call home if you are going to be late? To call home over the lunch break, just to chat? To call your friends in town? in Hawaii?
5) Dealing with others: The various computer professional organizations, including Data Processing Management Association (DPMA) and Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) have set ethical standards for their members. Three common elements in these codes are to (1) maintain competence, (2) disclose conflict of interest, and (3) maintain confidentiality of information even after employment ends.

Management Information Systems and Ethics
Presumably, Management Information Systems (MIS) professionals struggle with the same types of ethical issues faced by other business professionals. Ethical dilemmas regarding conflict of interest, theft, equal opportunity, and environmental impact cut across professions. In addition to these general concerns, several issues that apply specifically to the information systems (IS) profession are raised in the literature.

The nature of computer technology renders the ethical issues encountered by IS professionals unique. Parker et al. (1990) contended that “advancements in computer and data communications technology have resulted in the need to reevaluate the application of ethical principles and establish new agreements on ethical practices”. Information on electronic and magnetic storage media lends itself to ease of reproduction, theft, and contamination; raising issues regarding, propriety rights, property rights, privacy, plagiarism, misuse, and freedom of expression. Because of the growing benefits accrued from access to computers, Johnson (1985) suggested that there may be circumstances in which access to computers, computer skills, computer professionals, and decision making about computer applications could be construed as rights.

The most encompassing, and possibly the most pervasive, inquiry made in the literature involves the role that IS professionals should take in determining how their work is applied and to what end it serves. Implicit in this query is the issue of prioritizing obligations to different stakeholders who are affected by the system. Several recent studies speak to these issues.

The reviewed MIS ethics studies indicate the importance that IS professionals place on ethics and the potential benefits of ethical training for students and new professionals. Experienced professionals have a strong commitment to ethical behavior and feel as if they can distinguish unethical practices from acceptable practices. These findings seem contradictory to the evidence provided by citations in popular and academic literature of ethical transgressions of MIS professionals.

Within an MIS context, a strict deontologist might view copying software as inherently unethical, and would oppose this practice no matter what the circumstances. A strict teleologist, on the other hand, might examine the possible positive consequences for himself and the firm (e.g., increased productivity and cost savings) and weigh these against the possible negative consequences if the firm were to be prosecuted (e.g., possible damages and negative publicity). If this individual felt that the positive consequences outweighed the negatives ones, he might feel that this practice was “worth the risk” for himself and the organization. Someone who was influenced by both the deontological and teleological perspectives might consider both the inherent rightness versus wrongness of copying software as well as the possible consequences of it. Such an individual might only consider this practice as a feasible alternative under very special circumstances (e.g., if the survival of the firm depended upon it).

As for the relation between ethical standards and MIS professionals’ performance, we can note the results of the study conducted by Scott J. Vitell and titled “Ethical Beliefs of MIS Professionals”, who conclude that the ethical standards can improve among MIS professionals when top management makes it clear that ethical behavior will be rewarded and unethical behavior will be punished. If top management does not support ethical conduct, it becomes less likely that subordinates will behave ethically. Given these results concerning top management setting the ethical tone for the firm, it seems imperative that more organizations should write and enforce codes of ethics. At least some unethical practices could be eliminated by more top managers taking such a stance. In addition, industry codes of ethics could be helpful in reducing unethical practices.


A management information system (MIS) is a set of systems and procedures that gather information from a range of sources, compile it and present it in a readable format. Managers use an MIS to create reports that provide them with a comprehensive overview of all the information they need to make decisions ranging from daily minutiae to top-level strategy. Today’s management information systems rely largely on technology to compile and present data, but the concept is older than modern computing technologies.

The role of the management information system (MIS) manager is to focus on the organization’s information and technology systems. The MIS manager typically analyzes business problems and then designs and maintains computer applications to solve the organization’s problems.

Within companies and large organizations, the department responsible for computer systems is sometimes called the MIS department. Other names for MIS include information systems (IS) and information technology (IT).

1. Security Management: A closer look into Information Security can only be managed properly if, on a macro level, an internationally accepted reference framework (code of practice) is used, and if on a micro level, physical measurements can be made. All this must be accompanied by an international information security certificate, and a comprehensive corporate information security culture. There are plenty of tools to enforce security in information system. Information being a vital resource for organization must be kept secure from unauthorized access. Security tools minimize errors, fraud, and losses in the e-business systems that interconnect businesses with their customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders.
2. Encrypted passwords, messages, files, and other data is transmitted in scrambled form and unscrambled for authorized users. It involves using special mathematical algorithms to transform digital data in scrambled code. Most widely used method uses a pair of public and private keys unique to each individual. Firewalls serve as a “gatekeeper” system that protects a company’s intranets and other computer networks from intrusion. Firewalls provide a filter and safe transfer point. It prevents malicious agents by screening all network traffic for proper passwords or other security codes.

3. The employees should be enriched with the code of ethics by internal training. Ethics training programs help in building strong teams and foster professionalism in the workplace, thus increasing work productivity. Due to the prevalence of ethical culture in the organization, the quality of goods and services provided by the company is not compromised. Hence, ethics training helps in quality management. A company whose employees are known for strong business ethics has a strong public image. This results in increased sales and profits, as the people trust their products and services more than those of any other company
4. Parallel run strategy minimizes system failure Parallel run is a method for transferring between an old system to a target system in an organization. In order to reduce risk, the old and new system run simultaneously for some period of time after which, if the criteria for the new system are met, the old system is disabled. The process requires careful planning and control and a significant investment in labor hours. In this way information can be retrieved even after failure of old system.
5. Centralized data storage reduces the problems of information loss or theft. The centralized data is secured behind multiple layers of firewalls and intrusion detection systems and managed by Information Technology (IT) professionals whose profession it is to the data safe. In the Centralized Data model, responsibility for the integrity and safety of the data is no longer organization alone to bear, but is shared with the company hosting the data. It thus becomes in the best interest of that host to ensure data is kept safe. This means an investment in the infrastructure (servers, disk drives, database software, firewalls, backups, redundancy, etc.) that is exponentially safer (and more expensive!) than anything that can be done locally.
6. Standard and reliable data storage media, backup and recovery technologies provide a cornerstone of data protection strategies that help organizations meet their requirements for data availability and accessibility. Storing, restoring, and recovering data are key storage management operational activities surrounding one of the most important business assets: corporate data. Data centers can use redundant components and fault tolerance technologies to replicate crucial data to ensure high availability. However, these technologies alone cannot solve issues caused by data corruption or deletion, which can occur due to application bugs, viruses, security breaches, or user errors. There may also be a requirement for retaining information in an archival form, such as for industry or legal auditing reasons; this requirement may extend to transactional data, documents, and collaborative information such as e-mail. Therefore, it is necessary to have a data protection strategy that includes a comprehensive backup and recovery scheme to protect data from any kind of unplanned outage or disaster, or to meet industry requirements for data retention.
7. Use of licensed and authentic software will reduce security risks. The potential for modern business software to take a business into the future cannot be underestimated, today’s customers require, and expect service of the highest quality. If your business does not supply such a service, it is about time it did. Full integration of departments is fundamental to ensuring exceptional service is provided to customers. After all they are the most important asset any business can possess. Pirated copy of software cost less but it liable to failure in future. It is also a criminal offence and subject to legal proceedings.
8. Whether to use IT tools and technologies in organization is purely dependent on the need of the organization. With the advance of technology, problems are inevitable. One major issue emerging is the security of sensitive information. Technologies such as cloud computing, social networking and wireless applications allow companies to streamline operations. Cloud computing allows businesses to move to a more efficient information technology (IT) model. Businesses save money on IT, energy and real estate costs due to the centralization of data on servers. Social networking increases customer rapport, allowing for potentially greater profits and increasing customer loyalty. Using these tools and technologies also impose additional cost to the company. Many organizations introduce latest technologies for their work without requirements causing serious problems of security risks. Therefore, don’t be the crowd follower.

It is a myth that hackers cause most security breaches but in reality, 80% of data loss is caused by insiders. To design a security solution that truly protects data, organization must understand the security requirements relevant to its business process, and the scope of current threats to data. A business, using IT tools heavily, depends on providing customers, partners, and employees with access to information, in a way that is controlled and secure. Managing such types of business security is a multifaceted challenge and requires the coordination of business policy and practice with appropriate technology.

In addition to deploying standards bases, flexible and interoperable systems, the technology must provide assurance of the security provided in the products.
As technology matures and secure information systems are deployed, companies will be better positioned to manage the risks associated with disintermediation of data access. Through this process businesses will enhance their competitive edge while also working to protect critical business infrastructures from malefactors like hackers, disgruntled employees, criminals and corporate spies.
It is probably not possible to develop comprehensive ethical guidelines to cover every possible situation of IT misuse in inside or outside the organization. It is possible, however, to realize the pervasiveness and the magnitude of the problem. It is also possible to develop ethical guidelines on an ongoing basis to keep pace with changes in the issues. Codes of ethics and professional conduct vary from one professional organization to the next and are incomplete or obsolete.
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