Jeremy Willinger's blog

New Behavioral Science One Sheet: Goals Gone Wild

Ethical Systems has released our newest Behavioral Science One Sheet, created in partnership with the Notre Dame Center for Ethical Leadership.

Our Winter 2017 one sheet on Goals Gone Wild encompasses the concept of goal setting and how doing so can inadvertently lead to unethical behavior in organizations. We credit Professor Lisa Ordóñez of the Eller School of Management for her work helping both introduce the topic to the academic field and her work crafting the text on this informative one sheet. 

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Whistleblower: Companies Need to Encourage Speak-Up Culture

Maria Lemos Stein recently interviewed noted consultant Wendy Addison, Founder and Chief Executive of SpeakUp SpeakOut, in The Wall Street Journal. Addison is also known for her personal role as a whistleblower on fraud and corruption in 2000 regarding LeisureNet Ltd., whose joint chief executives were convicted of fraud in one of the biggest corporate scandals in South Africa

Addison promotes a speak up culture as the method by which companies develop an environment where problems are acknowledged and solved transparently, and before a problem becomes widespread. That way, she asserts, companies avoid the fines, reputation loss, and other negatives associated with more public scandal. Further, the person or group reporting the issue does not face internal retribution because speaking up is encouraged at all levels of the organization.

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Ethical Systems seeks a Senior Research Associate

Ethical Systems seeks a Senior Research Associate (remote or in-person)

Help companies improve their ethics while advancing research on organizational behavior!

Ethical Systems is a research collaboration among the leading social and behavioral scientists.  The core team is housed at the NYU Stern School of Business, but the Sr. Research Associate can work remotely. Our mission is to make the world's best research available, for free, to anyone interested in improving the ethical culture and behavior of an organization.  

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2017 End of Year Letter from Jonathan Haidt and Azish Filabi

Dear Friends,

2017 has been a year of surprises, transformation, and growth. Thirteen months ago, on the morning after Election Day, we walked in to the conference room of a global consulting firm based here in New York City. We sat down at a long table with 30 ethics and compliance officers. We gave our talk as planned—a talk on designing ethical systems. But all of us around the table were in a state of… surprise to say the least. Our conversation focused primarily on the consequences of the rather unexpected election of Donald Trump. What were the implications for businesses? How would rules and enforcement change?

Now, a year later, it is clear that whatever regulations are rolled back, businesses face an ever-changing landscape of ethics challenges. Questions of business ethics and ethical culture are front and center in national discussions on sexual harassment in the workplace, diversity and inclusion (which may include viewpoint and political diversity, as we learned in response to the famous “Google memo”); fairness and cheating, and new pressures on leaders to take stands on political controversies. We are on a path to further deregulation of business. The compliance workload may decrease, but the ethics workload will likely increase. This is the time for the business ethics community to show that, together, we can create a better society through ethical business behavior.

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2017 Ethical Systems Collaborator Highlights

For our expanding collaborator network, 2017 was a year of many achievements, significant contributions to research, and broad recognition of their work. We invite you to browse a highlight list of the research, articles, appearances and talks that helped advance our mission and promote a greater understanding of ethics, decision making, and ethical systems design.

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Bridging the Gap: The Oxford Review on the problem of academic-practitioner distance

David Wilkinson, Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Review, has written an incredibly insightful piece on the gap between the world of research and that of business- what he deems the “academic-practitioner distance.” It both underscores the mission of Ethical Systems and spotlights the reasons why it is in the best interest of both communities to close this chasm.

Wilkinson shows how “The gap isn’t just a physical one, [extending to] a gap of perspective, language, understanding and thinking.” 

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Cathy O’Neil to the Ivory Tower: Stop ignoring the ethics risks in tech

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in most all aspects of modern business and social life is now ubiquitous. From wealth management, to hiring employees, assessing the effectiveness of teachers, and our news feeds, AI impacts most every aspect of our day-to-day life — whether or not we are aware of it.

As the use of AI has grown, so has a corresponding gap in the ability of many companies and people to explain what, how, and most importantly, why these bots make certain decisions.  In a NYT op-ed this week, Cathy O’Neil gives academics a call to action — the time has come to provide a deeper, and unbiased view of the risks of AI and the ethics challenges we face as their power and influence grows.

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The Flip Side of the Quarter: Only 25% of employees think colleagues model ethical behavior

A recent survey by Gartner (formerly CEB) indicates some bleak stats for companies —  the 2017 poll of 5,000 workers in the U.S. indicates that “only 25 percent of employees believe their teammates and colleagues engage in and model the right ethical behaviors.”

This is a lost opportunity for many organizations. Research that shows that running an ethical organization pays off financially in the long-run. The CEB/Gartner findings also indicate, “Employees from strong cultures of integrity are 90 percent less likely to observe misconduct and are more likely to report that which they do see. They are also more likely to over-perform on individual and team goals. Gartner also notes financial opportunities – notably, that companies with strong cultures of integrity have 10-year total shareholder returns 7 percentage points higher than companies with low perceptions of integrity.”

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ECI Webcast Recording: New Behavioral Science Tools from Ethical Systems

Azish Filabi (Executive Director of Ethical Systems) and Jeffrey Kaplan (ES collaboarator and Partner at Kaplan & Walker, LLP) recently led a webcast about ethics, research, and culture highlighting new behavioral science tools for the ethics and compliance field. The slides and recording are now available.

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Richard Thaler, The Nobel Prize and Nudge

All of us at Ethical Systems extend a hearty congratulations to Richard Thaler on the announcement of his Nobel Prize for his pioneering research around nudging.

From The New York Times announcement:

The Nobel committee, announcing the award in Stockholm, said that it was honoring Professor Thaler for his pioneering work in establishing that people are predictably irrational — that they consistently behave in ways that defy economic theory. People will refuse to pay more for an umbrella during a rainstorm; they will use the savings from lower gas prices to buy premium gasoline; they will offer to buy a coffee mug for $3 and refuse to sell it for $6.

The committee credited Professor Thaler, who teaches at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, for moving economics toward a more realistic understanding of human behavior, and for using the resulting insights to improve public policies, notably a sweeping shift toward the automatic enrollment of employees in retirement savings programs.

 

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