ATLAS.ti in the Study of Ethical Management

June 3, 2016

In this issue of Inside ATLAS.ti we interview Dr. Maria del Pilar Rodriguez, professor of management at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede Manizales. Dr. Rodriguez explains a project in the topic of ethical management in which she used ATLAS.ti.

Tell us a little bit about you.

Maria del pilar with students (2)I am an industrial engineer, with a specialization management, with a doctoral degree is in philosophy. I am a professor of Industrial Engineering at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, the largest university in the country.  I also direct the research group Ethos. My research interests are in area of organizational ethics and an in particular on culture and organizational and management ethics.

How did you use ATLAS.ti in this project?

With the assistance of ATLAS.ti, we analyzed the survey and the interview data.  The analysis was guided by the following questions:

  1. Do you think that the activities of the managerial power class (the name of it is Ethos), were able to improve your level of sensitivity and awareness of the implications of the use of power as a manager?

The codes that emerged from the analysis of the survey data and the semi-structured interviews were grouped in four families, each one representing a finding:

  • Having participated in the Ethos course helped student develop skills related to the ethical use of managerial power.
  • Students who participated in the class strengthened existing moral values.
  • Students who participated in the class acquired knowledge related to the ethical use of managerial power.

One of the course former students, now an engineer employed in a managerial position for already two years, said the following:

Three values, learned in this class, are stuck in my mind: honesty, responsibility and respect. I think that as a result of embracing these values, higher management sees me as a person that can be trusted.

2. What kinds of competencies related to the ethical use of managerial power were you able to    develop as a result of having participated in the Ethos course?

We were able to identify three categories of competencies that were acquired by students as a result of participating in this course.  These competencies were represented in the form of code families, as follows:

  • Competencies related to knowledge
  • Competencies related to being
  • Competencies related to doing

In relation to knowledge competencies, former course participants mentioned that the class gave them new knowledge, but also complemented and strengthened knowledge they already had. In relation to being, former course participants mentioned that they acquired competencies related to responsibility, honesty, empathy, solidarity and respect.  Acquired competencies related to Doing were dialogue, having good interpersonal relationships, the capacity to solve ethical dilemmas, and the capacity to make ethical decisions. This is represented by the figure below:

Network view showing learned competencies

Network view showing learned competencies

Former students were also asked to make recommendations for improvements of the course curriculum.  Through data analysis, we identified the following recommendations: that the practical activities included in the curriculum should last long because, precisely, long activities are the ones that they remember the most.  They also recommended that this course should be made a requirement to all engineering students.  There was also the recommendation that the course should be taken more than once during the course of the engineering program.  One of the former course participants, now a manager himself, said the following about this:

 Through participation in this course, I learned things that I would not have learned other regular courses of the management program.  I learned about ethics.  It also helped me strengthen my own values related to respect, importance of dialogue and solidarity.  This has had a great impact in my performance as a manager.

Would you like to add a few final words?

Yes.  ATLAS.ti was very useful for the qualitative analysis of the information. I will continue to use it in future research project. In fact, an article on this project was just accepted for publication in an international scientific journal and I think having used ATLAS.ti in the analysis of the study data was a reason for which the article was accepted for publication.

About the Author

Dr. Maria del Pilar Rodriguez Cordoba es professor of management at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, sede Manizales.  She can be reached by email (

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Written By

Ricardo Contreras

Ricardo Contreras