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Machiavelli (above) told political leaders that it was more important for them to be feared than loved. In lawless times with weak institutions, he may have been right. But in today’s business world, for most industries, the evidence points…

Human Rights

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INTRODUCTION Image: U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt displaying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1949 Since World War II and the founding of the United Nations, the established human rights framework under international law has…


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INTRODUCTION  Image: J.-H. Janßen, "Justice" statue, via Wikimedia Commons Every organization must confront the challenge of motivating its work force. From research on fairness in organizational contexts (‘organizational justice research’)…


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INTRODUCTION Corruption Perceptions Index 2012, via Transparency International. Countries in red are perceived as more corrupt than those in yellow. Corruption allocates resources and opportunities in ways that are unfair and inefficient. ​Transparency…

Corporate Governance

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INTRODUCTION Image: Eric Dan, boardroom at Roppongi Hills, via Flickr. Understanding ethical behavior in the context of corporate governance requires two levels of analysis: the internal concerns of corporate agency and the emergent effects…

Corporate Culture

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Zappos office The ethical culture in an organization can be thought of as a slice of the overall organizational culture. So, if the organizational culture represents “how we do things around here,” the ethical culture represents “how…

Compliance & Ethics Programs

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  Hammurabi's Code, ca. 1772 BCE, included 282 laws, some of which often prescribed punishing noncompliance with the removal of one's hand. INTRODUCTION Compliance and ethics (“C&E”) programs are organizational policies…

Cheating & Honesty

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Jacob van Oost, “Card-Sharpers.” Note the man on the right, signaling to the man in the foreground, who has two extra cards behind his back. Cheating, misconduct, deception and other forms of unethical behavior are widespread today,…

Contextual Influences

When we see someone doing something bad, we usually jump to the conclusion that the person is bad. Only later, if ever, do we consider the broader context—the social situation—which can strongly influence people’s behavior. Many of…


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Luca Pacioli, often viewed as the founder of modern accounting systems, wrote on accounting ethics in 1494. Accounting is the process of collecting, aggregating, validating, and reporting information about business performance. Until the…