The institutional turn in professional ethics

Ethics Behav. 1999;9(2):109-18. doi: 10.1207/s15327019eb0902_2.


The traditional ideal in which professionals alone or in small groups serve their patients and clients in accord with a public-spirited goal is giving way to practice in which professionals serve in organizations that value mainly their expertise and expect them to act in accord with the organization's goals. The study of professional ethics has not kept pace with this trend and, as a result, has neglected the institutional aspects of ethical problems. I focus attention on these aspects by considering a case that raises 2 problems that are particularly relevant in the context in which professionals now practice: the problem of representation (whom does the professional act for) and the problem of authority (who has the right to make the policy for the institution).

MeSH terms

  • Administrative Personnel
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Decision Making*
  • Ethics, Institutional*
  • Ethics, Professional*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Jurisprudence*
  • Lawyers*
  • Moral Obligations
  • Organizational Policy*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Physicians*
  • Professional Autonomy
  • Professional Role*
  • Social Responsibility
  • Social Values
  • Suicide, Assisted*
  • United States


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations