Independence, Organizational Ombudsman, Private sector
Like a creature of Darwin's fecund imagination, the ombudsman from so simple a beginning in the king's court of eighteenth century Sweden has evolved and adapted himself in the twenty-first century to suit our numerous modern organizations found throughout the world today. As per the rules of the game, he has shed the obsolete and kept what is usefullike concepts of fairness and justiceand on occasion has even developed new characteristics such as confidentiality, when the time calls for it.
Yet this has been only according to the demands of his environment. From government to the private sector the ombudsman has made the evolutionary leap, but not all of his qualities have been fully elaborated. One such quality is his independence, which is the subject of the present article. This topic interests me because I feel that the shift of the ombudsman from outside an institution to inside it has not been met with an adequate corresponding change in the way his independence is addressed or perceived, even though it is one of the four main organizational ombudsman principles. This contrasts starkly with the situation of the other three principles (neutrality/impartiality, confidentiality, and informality), which, to my knowledge, have been discussed in greater length and detail.
[...] Andrew Larratt-Smith, Ethical Privilege: The Case for a Statutory Privilege for the Organizational Ombuds,” 2 Journal of the International Ombudsman Association no (2010): IOA Best Practices 1.1 (October 13, 2009), version 3. See Mary P. Rowe, Corporate Ombudsman: An Overview and Analysis,” Negotiation Journal no (April 4 1987): 128 ombuds practitioners report to the CEO or someone else close to the Mary P. Rowe, “What is it like to be an Organizational Ombudsman?” Journal of the IRRA, Perspectives on Work no (1998): 63 (“Ombudspeople usually report at or near the top of the organization, outside ordinary management channels.”); Mary P. [...]
[...] The Independence of Reality To be sure, there are concrete recommendations, or even imperatives, as to what ought to be done in order to secure the “highest degree possible” 1 of independence. For example, the IOA Standards of Practice lists five rules for this, which are accompanied by the elaborations set out in the IOA Best Practices. However, the fact remains that organizational ombudsmen are “inherently vulnerable to coercion from the organization itself because the organization controls the ombuds' employment and budget. [...]
[...] The Organization of Power Extending the comparison with arbitration, I would like to highlight at this point that the power of arbitration lies inherently in its structure: it is precisely because the disputing parties therein have the possibility to choose their own judges that firms prefer arbitration as a means of dispute resolution to, for instance, litigation.17 My intention in stating this is two-fold: firstly, as distinct from arbitration, the power in the context of the organizational ombudsman is ultimately in the metaphorical hands of the organization. A corollary of this is that the organization must want to opt into such a conflict resolution system before the ombudsman office can be successful. In other words, the support of the organization is a pre-requisite for the ombudsman office's success. [...]
[...] These intangible points are widely considered, by ombudsmen themselves, to be major sources of power for practitioners.” 8 In light of the reality of things, which stands aloof and indifferent to all recommendations and the best of intentions, one cannot help but feel skeptical about the organizational ombudsman's independence. The organizational ombudsman is, simply put, not as independent as the bulk of articles would have us believe, especially when we compare it to the classical model. Yet it must serve some deeper purpose, which I will investigate next. [...]
[...] Charles L. Howard, The Organizational Ombudsman: Origins, Roles, and Operations—A Legal Guide (Chicago: 19 American Bar Association, 2010), 20- Rowe, Corporate Ombudsman,” 133. See Mary P. Rowe and Anthony Perneski, “Cost-Effectiveness of Ombudsman Offices,” Corporate Ombudsman 21 Newsletter (May 1990) Russell, Being An Ombuds.” See for example Rowe, Corporate Ombudsman,” 131. [...]
using our reader.