Posts

Why Promotion Is a Moral Hazard

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"When leaders very publicly fail due to ethical lapses, some people are inclined to say, 'See, that’s just how business is,' instead of learning a more inspiring lesson." Jessica Kennedy gets frustrated when people—often academics—try…

Will Working at Home Make Us More Ethical?

Research I reported on several years ago suggests working from home could make a positive ethical difference.

Is There a Problem with Meaningful Work?

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The eminent philosopher Bertrand Russell, who died exactly 50 years ago at the impressive age of 97, once penned a polemic lauding laziness. Beginning on a humorous note—he wrote of having hopes that, after reading his essay, the leaders…

Is Creative Talent Critical to Ethical Systems Design?

In March, Ethical Systems hosted its second “Ethics by Design” conference. It showcased not just the expertise of top behavioral-science researchers and business practitioners, but also the challenges—both empirical and managerial—that…

MBA: Means Being Aware to Short-Termism

It takes a commitment to business and a desire to better oneself that motivates earning a Master in Business Administration. The degree is seen as a passport to financial success and business leadership, a necessary piece of the puzzle should you want to attain keys to the executive suite.

Yet, a new study by Danny Miller, research professor at HEC Montreal and Xiaowei Xu, an assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island shows that for MBA-holders who go on to lead companies and achieve a level of recognition in mainstream media, self-interested behavior becomes more apparent and their firms can suffer as a result.

Acknowledging that earning an MBA does not cause people to be any less reliable, honest or ethical than others, Miller and Xu’s findings have implications for executive compensation, the dangers of short-termism and how the drive to be distinguished among peers may create a blind spot when thinking about other areas of the business.

The Scandal Effect: Removing the taint of corporate ethical lapses

Imagine an executive at a company leaves their job in January, six months before the company becomes embroiled in an ethical scandal. The executive now has the taint of a botched job attributed to him/her and, like the smelly car from Seinfeld, it is hard to wash off and seems to follow them everywhere.

A recent article in Harvard Business Review illuminated this phenomenon, shows how much of a long term impact scandal can have on people. The results were shocking (though not so much odiferous).

Unethical Amnesia: A Term Big Business Cannot Afford to Forget

Time heals all wounds. Time erodes even the mightiest mountain into a pebble. Time also, as a recent study highlighted in Harvard Business Review, enables people to forget their ethical lapses- a fact that has strong implications for businesses today.

Researchers found that “memories of unethical actions become obfuscated over time” coining the term “unethical amnesia.” The reason for this amnesia is simple: recalling our own misconduct is a threat to our positive self-image.