The raging debate on ethics has always dominated issues of innovation from time to time. Innovation by its own nature is normally experimental meaning that the new development may be violating some of the ethics. Innovation involves new activities which are normally expected to contribute much to human progress. Ethics on the other hand deals with how morally fit a decision or course of action is (MacIntyre, 1985). It is a certain code of conduct that guides individuals of a particular group or profession as they carry out their day to day activities. Therefore, the ethical issues of innovation touch on how the acts of innovators are morally fit or whether there is a standard to be observed when carrying out innovation (Bessant, 2003). There are innovation ethics which need to be observed when carrying out experimental activities and they include the following;
- Respect for human dignity
The basic principle in coming up with innovative programs ought to respect human dignity. This code of ethics aspires to protect interdependent and multiple interests of persons who may be involved or affected by the innovative program. Such people include the general public, sponsors, clients, target groups and other stakeholders. The integrity and welfare of a person with regard to human dignity remain paramount and not subject to question. An innovation program should not be one that demeans human dignity by violating basic human rights accorded to an individual. The life and dignity of a human being should be upheld when engaging in innovation programs in different fields (Chesbrough, 2003).
- Respect for full disclosure of goals and agenda
When coming up with an innovative program, individuals behind it have a responsibility to disclose all the relevant facts, details, goals and agenda of the innovation. Concealing some information means that the innovation being pursued has some hidden agenda which will hamper with its full scrutiny. When an innovation program is being initiated, all the details about it have to be disclosed so that an assessment can be done to determine its effects and also what kind of contribution it makes on human progress. If a program is detrimental to human progress, such information should be disclosed so that the program can be confiscated (Fuglsang, 2008).
- Respect for vulnerable persons
There are different categories of people who may be affected by a certain innovative program. The definition of vulnerability varies from one context to another, the basic idea being that vulnerable persons are those people who require special consideration when coming up with an innovation program (Sundbo, 1998). Such people should be handled with care and fairness in order to give them special protection against abuse, discrimination and exploitation. The interests of such people should thus be given primary consideration before a certain innovative program can be implemented. If vulnerable groups will be affected by an innovation program, this should be disclosed together with relevant appropriate measures that are being taken to ensure that they are treated with fairness (Freeman, 1982).
- Respect for privacy and confidentiality
An innovation program needs to observe the personal space of each person. Respect for privacy and confidentiality aims at protecting psychological or mental integrity. Most innovation programs have the temptation of brushing aside the issue of privacy and confidentiality. While this may be the case, people should not be mentally tormented with a certain innovation program because it intrudes on their personal privacy. Information that is confidential to an individual should remain confidential and should be treated confidentially. Exposing such information may put the affected parties at risk by adversely affecting their daily lives, career and may even lead them to being shunned by members of the society (Freeman, 1987).
- Respect for justice and inclusiveness
Respect for justice and inclusiveness implies that equity and fairness should be observed when it comes to distributing benefits and burdens of the innovation program. No particular segment or group of people should be burdened unfairly with the detriments of innovation. This imposes an obligation to individuals who are unable to protect their own interests as they are vulnerable to the innovation program. Therefore, such individuals should not be exploited in order to advance the objectives of the innovative program. Discrimination also applies to the distribution or sharing of benefits that come with a certain innovative program. All groups should benefit equally from an innovative program for fairness and inclusiveness to be achieved (Dougherty, 1992).
- Balancing harms and benefits
The enthusiasm that comes with innovation may cause the relevant authorities to overlook the possible harm that such an innovation program comes with. The benefits that come with a certain innovation program should be weighed against the potential harm. If the innovation poses much harm to the population, then the idea can be scrapped altogether and other innovation measures to be considered. Human life and activity should not be put on the line when coming up with innovation program; a careful analysis and scrutiny needs to be done to ascertain the extent of potential benefits and harm (Coulomb, 1997).
An innovation ethic is quite different from merely being paid to do a job. An individual paid to do a certain job is normally driven by extrinsic motivation; focus being placed on the tangible reward which is money. When being paid to do a job, an individual will throw caution to the wind and come up with the best way possible of accomplishing the task. This may involve the use of underhand techniques or even the Machiavellian way which says that the end justifies the means. A person who is paid to do a particular job may not care much about the harms that it brings to people as he is not guided by a code of ethics (Gallouj, 2002).
Doing a certain job for a pay is normally guided by some instructions, some of which may not into consideration ethical issues that come with it.
Though innovation may be aimed at contributing to human progress, the enthusiasm to implement an innovation program should not overshadow the need to scrutinize the program to ascertain whether it has some ethical conflicts or not. All innovation programs should observe the above innovation ethics. There is a difference between an innovation ethic and being paid to do a certain job; the difference being that when one is paid to do a job, any means of accomplishing the job is normally adopted disregarding ethical issues. Innovation in itself being experimental in nature should observe all the ethical considerations by disclosing all the relevant details which may affect people so that appropriate action can be taken to remedy the situation (Chesbrough, 2003).
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