I am the Straus Professor at the Harvard Business School and the Co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. I am also formally affiliated with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the Psychology Department at Harvard, and the Program on Negotiation.
My Approach to Ethical Systems:
In contrast to the search for the few “bad apples”, my colleagues and I argue that the majority of unethical events occur as the result of ordinary and predictable psychological processes. As a result, even good people engage in unethical behavior, without their own awareness, on a regular basis.
In addition, humans show a remarkable ability to not notice the ethical infractions of others. Rather than raising people to an externally set criterion for ethicality, our approach focuses on raising people to the level of ethicality that they would set for themselves with more reflection.
My Ethical Systems Research Page: Decision Making
My Major Relevant Publications
- Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What's Right and What to Do about It, co-authored with Ann Tenbrunsel (2011). This book is about how we overestimate our ability to act ethically, and do what is wrong (versus right) by accident. [Homepage, public library]
- On nudging in government and business [Behavioral Exchange 2014]
- On bounded ethicality [European Conference Cologne 2012]
- Max Bazerman: Blind Spots, Bernie Madoff's and Ours
- "Joint evaluation as a real world tool for managing emotional assessment of morality," article in Emotion Review (2011).
- "The ethical mirage: A temporal explanation as to why we are not as ethical as we think we are," article in Research in Organizational Behavior (2010).
- "Conflict of interest and the intrusion of bias," article in Judgment and Decision Making (2010).
- "Dirty Work, Clean Hands: The Moral Psychology of Indirect Agency," article in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (2009).
- "Bounded Ethicality as a Psychological Barrier to Recognizing Conflicts of Interest," chapter in Conflicts of Interest: Problems and Solutions from Law, Medicine and Organizational Settings (2005).
- "How (Un)ethical are you?" article in Harvard Business Review (2003).