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Ethics & Professional Issues in Information Systems Development

What constitutes IS failure?

Not solely from technical perspective Social, economic, political & ethical environment in which development takes place Sauer, (1993)

Complex combinations of organisational, financial, technical, human, political factors

Why IS projects fail

Over commitment to projects Managers unable to take impartial view of project Social pressures that often exist within organisation LAS, London Stock Exchange etc

Where do the problems lie?

Organisations are communities of people People compete for power & resources Differences of opinions & values Conflicts of priorities and goals

Bonds of alliance
Political dimensions

Developments in government sector can provide examples of externally set deadlines Political, commercial implications Inadequate testing Decision-making

Almost every worker in industrialised countries use ISs for daily work Development & implementation of systems is responsibility of IS professionals Conduct influenced by ethical attitudes Throughout duration of IS development project Numerous activities and decisions to be made Most will have an ethical dimension

What is Ethics?
The discipline dealing with what is good & bad & with moral duty & obligation Individual human opinions and beliefs Hard to define most of our moral responses seem to be more a matter of intuitions and feelings than of reasoning and logical deduction we are not always the rational creatures we would like to be Gross, (1996)

What is Computer Ethics?

Analysis of the nature & social impact of computer technology and the corresponding formulation & justification of policies for the ethical use of such technologies ethics for computing professionals is ethical rules & judgements applied in a computing context based on professional standards & a concern for the use of the computing product (Gotterbarn, 1997)

What is professionalism?
To meet standards set by a professional body in terms of individual conduct, competence & integrity A commitment to interests of all end-users and other stakeholders

Produce ethical tools SoDIS Ethically negotiated ethical triangle Need to address Means of education for IS developers who are able to integrate the ethical dimension into their work

Starting Point
Consider how professional issues in Computing are taught Address & raise awareness of teaching professional issues in computing curriculum Investigate differing approaches to delivery

Essential issues need to be addressed to produce computing professionals in line with Engineering, Law, Medicine

Professional Bodies
QAA Subject Benchmark Professional consideration Recognise the professional, moral & ethical issues involved in exploitation of computer technology & be guided by adoption of appropriate professional, ethical & legal practices

BCS Code of Conduct

Establish & maintain standards of professional competence, conduct & ethical practice Syllabus to include ethical, legal, social issues ACM Code of conduct

Critical importance to improve students perspective of professional issues Integration into their learning experience In line with other professions

Naivety amongst organisation & some academics concerning benefits of codes of conduct that an ethical code makes an unethical company ethical McCusker, (1998)

many in the criminal fraternity operate under a self-regulated and strictly enforced code of conduct. One would be unlikely to conclude that the mafia for example was an ethical organisation in consequence McCusker, (1998)

I cannot imagine any conditions which could cause this ship to flounder. I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel

I am amazed when I meet computer professionals in business and industry or even computer science teachers in colleges and universities who fail to recognise that their profession has social and ethical consequences Terrell Ward Bynum (2003)