Institutionalised groups are characterised by individuals’ overlapping roles. Role requirements within institutions generate real obligations, but just as the allegiance we feel to common-identity groups may be out of proportion to any genuine obligations of loyalty that we have, so I shall argue that the obligations generated by role requirements of institutionalised groups may not be as great as the pressures we feel to conform to those requirements. Our real obligations come from factors like others’ expectations, and

effects on group actions. This still leaves a significant task of ethical appraisal to be done in any concrete case, with various points to address. First, we must consider the extent to which an individual’s action does in fact help or hinder some group action. Then, though, our overall ethical appraisal of the individual’s action also has to take account of other factors in the situation, including obligations to other individuals, both group members and others. In practice, care and attention may be needed for us to discern what is right. It may assist us to identify some general factors that are often at work within groups, which may affect people’s actions, and have a bearing on ethical appraisal of those actions, as well as suggesting ways to enhance and support ethical action both by individuals in groups and derivatively by the groups themselves. We have already touched on some relevant factors. An especially notable

one is our tendency to identify with groups of which we are members. Ingroup-outgroup dynamics then result, and sometimes shared personal relationships amongst members of such a group can strengthen our tendencies to favour ingroup members at the expense of outgroup members. When such a group is institutionalised, its dynamics may blend the three types of groups we have discussed. To the extent that a group is a common-identity group, research suggests that we tend to favour others who are members; if the group is a common-bond group, interpersonal relations amongst members move us by ties of personal loyalty; if the group is institutionalised, role prescriptions for members will generally require actions that sustain the continued existence of the group and favour its members over others. The force and importance of such processes is clear, and well-known.

They can be of great benefit, but have also had many appalling outcomes.

These processes are not confined to any time or place; they are common mechanisms of social life. But what we have said so far does not exhaust the processes that tend toward such problematic outcomes. This chapter looks at some others, and explores the way that such processes within groups can make it hard to distinguish ethical demands from other pressures. Some of the problems have arisen in stark form in documented cases of whistleblowers, where their exposure of unethical behaviour has been contested or opposed by organisational members. Later, in Chapter 8, I shall argue that stands of conscience that they and other individuals have taken in organisations illustrate some quite general points about ethical decision making and dialogue within organisations. In this chapter the emphasis is on distinguishing ethical demands from other pressures.