RE: Ethics of Jumping To Another Contract Job

Subject: RE: Ethics of Jumping To Another Contract Job
From: Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2007 13:53:48 -0400

On Behalf Of jan -dot- arnopolin -at- thomson -dot- com said:

> Richard,
> If there's no contract, and you can get a contract from the other guys,
> I'd say go for it, but be aware that you might be burning a bridge. And
> for me that would be the ethics question. Do I want to burn a bridge or
> not?

The distinction that I make is:

- your ethics are your code of values - your beliefs with respect to proper
- your morals are how well you adhere to your own ethics.

So the immediate problem is to decide whether this is even a moral question.
You have certain beliefs (or hard-won reasoned positions), and certain
interpretations of those beliefs - in this case about how to deal with
employers or employer-like customers.

You have a specific case in which you feel some conflict, and you are trying
to decide whether that conflict is moral or merely cost-benefit. The benefit
is fairly straightforward; new job, possibly better conditions and
compensation. If the cost is a twinge of conscience, then it's a moral
problem, and your character will decide whether you heed the conscience. If
there's no conscience twinge, and it's only a matter of weighing present
gain (the new contract) against hypothetical loss (a bridge that you might
possibly wish to re-cross some day), then it's just a cost-benefit problem.
No real moral or ethical dimension - those have already been decided, and
determined not to apply.

That is, the "burnt bridge" thing exists only in the minds of the current
employer/contractee. If you don't owe them any particular performance beyond
your current paycheck, then it's only that they like to have their shorts in
a knot. That's not a moral or ethical problem for you. That's a cost-benefit
thing for you. Offend their prickly sensibilities (based on their faulty
apprehension of the relationship) and risk that they won't be a source of
employment in your future time of need, or forgo a juicy new opportunity.
Cost-benefit. No real moral dimension. Whip out a pen and paper, do the Ben
Franklin and get on with life.


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