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Ethics and the Publishing Start-up


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Launching a new scholarly press involves a number of considerations; many of the decisions to be made involve tradeoffs and ethical considerations. Framing the discussion is the balance between “profitability” and scholarly contribution. Questions of funding sources, recruiting staff, developing editorial and business strategy, creating an advisory board, and evaluating new projects and authors contain ethical choices. Ethical climates vary; the right climate in the organization and fit between alliance partners are key. Deviance in its positive sense can be a source of innovation and creativity. Stories can be used to connect with our readers; stories are also useful in organizations to impart ethics and purposeful direction to organizations. The quest is to change the way we publish—thinking digitally from the beginning of the process, pursuing diverse funding sources, innovating in dissemination and marketing.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Ethics and the Publishing Start-up

  1. 1. Ethics in Publishing Conference George Washington University Washington, DC Ethics and the Publishing Start-up June 15, 2015 John W. Warren
  2. 2. In any start-up, there are many questions • What is your organization’s vision/mission? • What are the foundations of the business in terms of leadership/partners/funders? • How important is the pursuit of profit vs. social good? • What opportunities are there for growth and innovation? • What contribution(s) do you want to make to the world? • What is the ideal composition and characteristics of your staff? • What kind of leader are you/do you want to
  3. 3. Particular questions are relevant to a publishing start-up • What is the role and makeup of the advisory or editorial board? • Open access versus commercial sales? • What kind of books do you want to publish? • What kind of books do you not want to publish? • What other products? • For all these questions, what weight should you give to personal relationships/preferences? • How much weight to the preferences of others? • How much purely objective aspects?
  4. 4. In business, money is either very important, or it is everything
  5. 5. What is very important in scholarly publishing? Start by asking, what is important to your stakeholders and audience Flickr user: The Open University
  6. 6. Identify your stakeholders and their concerns, expectations, and interests Press Marketing/Sal es Sales Reps International Distributors Retailers/ Vendors Publicity channels University Faculty Center Directors/Adminis trators StudentsDirector Board Members DonorsDean/Pro vost Acquisitions/E ditorialAuthors Series Editors Peer Reviewers Production Copy Editor s Desig ners
  7. 7. Stakeholders include management, key peers, allies, customers & suppliers LEVEL OF INTEREST Low High POWER High Keep Satisfied (Medium effort) Manage Closely (Maximum Effort) Low Monitor (Minimum Effort) Keep informed (Medium effort) Power/Interest Grid for Stakeholder Prioritization
  8. 8. Possible strategic priorities of a university press • Contribute to overall mission/strengths of the University • Reinforce reputation of press in order to attract highly respected scholars and subject experts • Increase sales revenue • Impact research, pedagogy, and/or public debate • Collaborate with University departments/centers • Increase digital dissemination, innovation • Contribution to the bottom line, increase surplus • Engage with communities in core academic and professional fields
  9. 9. What can ethics teach us about business, profit, and start-ups? • Philosophical / normative ethics: moral philosophy, guides individuals and organizations on how they should behave, ‘what ought to be,’ matter of individual choice, deontology • Empirical / descriptive ethics: management and business, explains and predicts individuals actual behavior, predictive, ‘what is,’ influence on behavior is both internal and external, corporate social responsibility
  10. 10. Social responsibility means the liability of an organization for the consequences of its actions Flickr user: Eric Constantineau
  11. 11. Ethical climates vary—participation and innovation increase social responsibility Participatory • Team spirit is judged by employees to be important • People have a strong responsibility vis-à-vis the community • Strong relations of trust among employees Innovative • Innovative people are encouraged • Openness for new social developments is essential • Personal creativity of employees is valued Instrumental • Monitoring costs is an important responsibility of staff • Performance of employees is judged according to their contribution to society • Much attention is paid to an efficient organization of work Regulatory • People in the organization clearly respect hierarchical relations • Personnel follow strict legal stipulations and procedures • Powers in the organization are clearly circumscribed
  12. 12. Don’t be afraid of your dark side—embracing the whole self (“Teddy effect”) has benefits to organizations and society Flickr user: Jasperdo
  13. 13. Deviance can be a problem but there is also a positive side of standing above the crowd Flickr user: Paulo Brandao
  14. 14. “Is it not possible that an individual may be right and a government wrong? Are laws to be enforced simply because they were made? or declared by any number of men to be good, if they are not good? Is there any necessity for a man's being a tool to perform a deed of which his better nature disapproves?” — Henry David Thoreau, “ A Plea for Captain John Brown”
  15. 15. Deviant drawbacks and merits Typology of Deviant Behavior Under-conformity Conformity Over-conformity Positive evaluation of deviant behavior Positive Under- conformity (resistance to oppressive authority, e.g. Robin Hood) Positive Conformity (innovation, creativity, questioning group- think) Positive Over- conformity (heroes, Mother Theresa) Negative evaluation of deviant behavior Negative Under- conformity (e.g. theft, abuse of position and power) Negative Conformity (passive aggressive, pursuit of own agenda) Negative Over- conformity (e.g. group think, obsequiousness, compliance with evil)
  16. 16. In Star Trek: Into Darkness, Kirk demonstrates an evolution of deviant behavior, from negative to positive Flickr user: George Kelly
  17. 17. Stories connect to readers and can impart ethics and purposeful direction to organizations Flickr user: Jeremy Hall
  18. 18. The hero develops character in a journey through five stages—anticipation, dream, frustration, nightmare, and miraculous escape— overcoming a monster that threatens not just the individual but entire community Flickr user: Suus Wansink
  19. 19. Rags and riches initials wretchedness and the call; some success; all goes wrong, dark figures; independence and final ordeal; fulfillment Flickr user: Martin Goldberg
  20. 20. Without the call the journey would not be a quest Flickr user: Patrice-photographiste
  21. 21. Voyage out of normal, everyday environments into a strange new world and return Flickr user: Don McCullough
  22. 22. In comedy, things are not what they seem until a moment of “recognition” when something hidden is revealed and the “chaos of misunderstanding” resolved. Flickr user: takomabibelot
  23. 23. Tragedy reminds us that not everything has a win-win resolution Flickr user: Aftab Uzzam
  24. 24. Hope and love and the process of growth are central to stories of rebirth Flickr user: Stew Dean
  25. 25. “Mr. Miller demonstrates that great action filmmaking is not only a matter of physics but of ethics as well. There is cause and effect; there are choices and consequences.” A.O. Scott, Review of Mad Max: Fury Road, in The New York Times, May 15, 2015
  26. 26. The quest is to challenge what it means to be a scholarly publisher • Challenge the status quo and conventional wisdom; generate new ideas, new ways of doing things • Focus on partnerships—on and off campus—that add mutual value • Think of digital possibilities from project genesis— not as an afterthought • Integrate social media throughout the press to engage core audience(s) • Make workflow more efficient • Pursue analytics, such as aggregate, anonymous performance data, to improve texts
  27. 27. Experiment with new forms of peer review and participatory content creation
  28. 28. Move beyond the book to collaborative, social learning
  29. 29. Create the right environment • Foster a culture of meaning and learning • Ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and everyone makes a contribution • Instill a culture of high expectations—for people and content • Experiment with intent and don’t be afraid to make mistakes • Be environmentally sensitive • Intuition plus analysis: don’t overanalyze or put too much faith into analysis alone
  30. 30. • "Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still. Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality. Be not simply good—be good for something." — Henry David Thoreau, Letters to a Spiritual Seeker
  31. 31. Three Quick Questions
  32. 32. Would you publish The Al-Qaeda Reader? • Doubleday’s Al-Qaeda Reader, edited by Raymond Ibrahim, includes material written by al-Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden predating 9/11/01 terror attacks • Doubleday: “We firmly believe we are doing a great service to America… we knew there would be many responses, but the overriding issue is to get these writes to a wide audience.” • Houghton-Mifflin, publisher of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, puts the profits in a fund dispersed to organizations that combat ideas put forth in the book
  33. 33. Would you retract On the Run? • On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, by sociologist Alice Goffman—heralded for its timely subject matter and 6 years of immersive fieldwork • Glowing reviews in the New Yorker in the New York Times; TED Talk viewed more than 800,000 times • Critiques have debated facts, methods, but also privileged white outsider’s studying of minority community • Accusation that author included in a footnote details showing she may have broken state law when driving a planned getaway car; although no assault took place in the end there are ethical concerns
  34. 34. Would you collect or oppose collection of student “engagement” with their e-texts and provide to professors?
  35. 35. Discussion/Questions Please contact me with any questions: John W. Warren 703.993.3636 @john_w_warren
  36. 36. Sources and further reading (1) Branin, Joseph, et al., “A Statement of Ethics for Editors of Library and Information Science Journals,” Library &Information Science Editors, July 2009, Revised September 2010: http://www.lis- Bouckaert, Luk and Jan Vandenhove, “Business Ethics and the Management of Non-Profit Institutions,” Journal of Business Ethics, 17: 1073-1081, 1998 Furneaux, Jonathan and Craig Furneaux, “Into Darkness: Deviance in Star Trek” pgs 112-115; in Michael Schwartz and Howard Harris, eds, The Contribution of Fiction to Organizational Ethics, Emerald Publishing, 2014 Guillibeau, Chris, The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World, Perigee Books, 2010 Illes, Katalin and Howard Harris, “How Stories Can Be Used in Organisations Seeking to Teach the Virtues” pgs 112-115; in Michael Schwartz and Howard Harris, eds, The Contribution of Fiction to Organizational Ethics, Emerald Publishing, 2014
  37. 37. Sources and further reading (2) Kashdan, Todd B. and Robert Biswas-Diener, The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self—Not Just Your “Good Self”—Drives Success and Fulfillment, Hudson Street Press, 2014 Liston-Heyes, Catherine and Gordon Liu, “A study of non-profit organisations in cause-related marketing: Stakeholder concerns and safeguarding strategies,” European Journal of Marketing, Vol 47, No. 11/12, 2013 Schuessler, Jennifer, “Heralded Book on Crime Disputed,” New York Times, June 6, 2015 Streitfeld, David, “Teacher Knows if You’ve Done the E-Reading,” New York Times, April 8, 2013 Thiel, Peter with Blake Masters, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, Crown Business, New York, 2014