I have been researching ethics in organizational contexts (workplaces and universities) for nearly 30 years, taking a social scientific approach to understanding why people behave the way they do (ethically and unethically).

My webpage

Ethical Systems Interview (March 2015)

ES blog mentions

My Approach to Ethical Systems: 

Early on in my thinking, I developed a systems approach to thinking about organizational ethics. I published a paper in 1990 that developed a cultural perspective on organizational ethics which later translated into a chapter in my textbook with Kate Nelson. The idea is that developing an ethical culture depends on the alignment of multiple formal and informal systems in the organization that all send messages to employees about expected behavior. 

Formal systems include the selection system, policies and codes, orientation and training, the performance management system, the authority structure, formal decision processes, and formal communications from leadership. 

Informal systems include the behavior of role models and heroes, norms of daily behavior, organizational rituals, myths and stories and language. 

To the extent that these are aligned within and across formal and informal systems to send the message that ethical behavior is supported, employees will get the right message and behave appropriately. Cultures can also be perfectly aligned to send the message that unethical behavior is expected. Or, cultures can be misaligned, sending mixed messages about what employees are expected to do. Unethical behavior is also more likely in such cultures. Because of the complex nature of culture, changing a culture is a multi-year effort that must assess all of these systems and account for them in the change.

My Ethical Systems Research pages include: 

My Major Relevant Publications:


Academic Articles