Engineering Ethics in Organizational Contexts

A Formal Proposal to the National Science Foundation’s Program on Ethics and Values in Science and Technology
  • Virginia White
Part of the Nonprofit Management and Finance book series (NOMA)


The use of professional skills and knowledge entails certain social and ethical responsibilities. In situations where the relationship between the professional and the beneficiary of these skills is well defined, it is relatively easy to define one’s duties and assign responsibility for their satisfaction. For example, in the medical context, it is generally accepted that the physician is ultimately responsible for the quality of the medical care the patient receives. There are, however, many professional contexts in which it is extremely difficult to determine the nature and extent of the responsibilities it is reasonable to expect of each individual. This is particularly true for engineers, who generally practice their professional skills within the context of large corporate or governmental organizations. These organizations require a micro-division of labor into distinct units within which each engineer contributes only a small portion of the work necessary to complete a project. The result is a diffusion of responsibility across various levels and units of the organizational structure, which complicates and affects the individual’s general understanding of his or her responsibilities.


Advisory Committee Ethical Responsibility Engineer Ethic Product Safety Professional Ethic 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginia White

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