Four Spheres of Executive Responsibility

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  944 Words
Date:  2022-03-29

According to Chester Barnard, management life is not only about solving moral dilemmas, but it also includes deciding what is right. Managers are bound to face problems of morality. However, these problems are not about what is right and what is wrong. The moral problems involve what is right versus what is right. Barnard was of the view that when problems of responsibility accrue many at times, the managers or executives get their hands dirty. These statements outline that executives always face difficult moral choices that at times are inescapable (Barnard, 1982). These ethical dilemmas are believed to be caused by clashes of different spheres that concern different moralities. When the moralities of these different spheres cut across each other, leaders or executives tend to face very serious hazards.

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These spheres are four in number and are known as the Four Spheres of Morality. The first sphere is about the private life commitments. This sphere is about the morals and values that an individual portrays in their private lives. These values include keeping promises, truth-telling or avoiding to hurt other people. Every individual depicts different morals and values in their private lives. Such that everyone is committed to different things. Personal morality arises from these commitments and responsibilities. The morality of private life makes individuals first moral agents, after which individuals now take up roles such as managers. These managers perform certain roles which intertwine with moral responsibilities. The second sphere is about the economic agents' commitments. This sphere outlines that the managers or executives have moral obligations to work for their shareholder's interests. There are legal provisions that provide a legal framework that govern the duties that executives should perform on behalf of their stakeholders. These legal provisions have caused the development of moral values and claims that business executives are expected to portray. Moral actions that are good are the ones that please the highest number of people. With regards to management, the managers should ensure that their ethical responsibilities satisfy most if not all the stakeholders of their businesses, companies or firms. The third sphere is about the commitments depicted by company leaders. This sphere is about the relationship of the managers and their employees. Under this sphere, it has been proved that work is a significant source of value and meaning to the employees of any company or firm. This underlying significance brings about a very high level of executive power. This power leads to two substantial moral claims they include: that managers should not abuse the power they have on their employees. This abuse of power often occurs when managers give in to pressure from organizations to act in manners that are unethical. The second moral claim is that power creates responsibility, managers and executives are expected to perform their leadership skills over their employees in a manner that respects the dignity and rights of their employees. Executives should also strive to create companies that continue to grow while providing a working environment that provides employees with opportunities and comfortable working experience. The final sphere is about the responsibilities that accrue outside the boundaries of the firms or the companies. This sphere outlines that the duties of executives are not only limited to the boundaries of their companies or firms but are also affected by other factors arising from outside their boundaries. These effects are as a result of the complex relationships that companies have with government organizations, regulatory bodies, suppliers, customers, and competitors. As a result of these relations, companies tend to have vast influences over numerous individuals. The influence, therefore, requires the company to have responsibility for all their services or products as they can either positively or negatively affect the lives of very many people.

As discussed above once these four spheres collide, they lead to dilemmas. For the executives to deal with these dilemmas, they have to critically answer these four questions which include: Firstly the executives should ask themselves which of their actions will lead to the best and the least harm. The question bases itself on utilitarianism which outlines that actions that are morally good cause the best consequences. The second question is which option is the best for both others' rights and the shareholders' rights. The third question is concerning what plan can the executive live with which is under the values of the company. The fourth and final question is concerning which action in the world will work.

The reading on the four spheres of executive responsibility affects the real managers in the following way: the managers are expected to understand that moral dilemmas are caused as a result of a conflict among their morals. The morals that arise from their roles as an economic agent, the morals that occur from the roles as a company leader and the morals that arise beyond the companies boundaries. The managers are expected to apply the four questions as they solve their moral dilemmas, they are supposed to consider the consequences of their actions, the rights of the individuals involved, their integrity and the practicality of their efforts.

As a manager, I am expected to understand that there are dilemmas that lead to no win-win solutions. The norm that is associated with solving such dilemmas such as good intentions, imagination and hard work will not lead to positive outcomes at all times. At times I as a leader will be expected to violate some rights of certain individuals, and in the process, I will get my hands dirty. This method of solving dilemmas will be a critical test of my sense of integrity.


Barnard, C. (1982). The Functions of the Executive . Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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Four Spheres of Executive Responsibility. (2022, Mar 29). Retrieved from

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