This article advocates that there is a dynamic relationship between a values-based ethics program and a commitment to dispute resolution that can revolutionize the way we think about both. The United States Air Force is a global organization with many relationships, including those with other governments, other federal agencies, corporate contractors and its members and employees. Hence, these concepts are not academic to us-they are the lifeblood that allows us to successfully accomplish our mission. But they also have implications for our corporate partners. Why would we have an interest in how private corporations approach the subjects of ethics and dispute resolution? The Air Force alone (putting aside the rest of the Department of Defense or the federal government) has an extensive relationship with private industry: in fiscal year 2007, we did business with 65,465 different contractors. The total number of Air Force contracting actions (new awards, options, modifications, and other actions) in this last fiscal year was 203,305 for a total of 68.4 billion dollars. And that's only at the prime contractor level. Contractors with an ethical culture are less likely to defraud or cheat us. Contractors with effective dispute resolution programs are better equipped to resolve conflicts as they arise. For these reasons, we believe it is in the government's interest to encourage its corporate partners to have an ethical culture and effective dispute resolution policies. Part II of this article will explain the nexus between an ethical culture and an effective dispute resolution program, and Part III will describe the Air Force's approach to both ethics and dispute resolution. In Part IV, we will describe how the powerful synergy between a dispute resolution program and an ethics program that nurtures a culture of ethics beyond a code-based compliance system can lead to a "virtuous cycle." Lastly, Part V will make several practical recommendations for CEOs.
Mary L. Walker and R. Philip Deavel,
The Strategic Relationship between Ethics and Dispute Resolution: What Every CEO Should Know,
8 Pepp. Disp. Resol. L.J.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/drlj/vol8/iss3/2