Interview with Dr. Dolly Chugh, Associate Professor in the Department of Management and Organizations, NYU Stern School of Business. [Find Dolly on Twitter]
What are your main areas of research? How can people better be attuned to their bounded ethicality?
I have always been fascinated by the three dimensional reality of human behavior. That is, none of us are perfectly ethical all of the time, and it's that reality that I am most interested in. In what ways are we less ethical and less egalitarian than we intend to be? Under what conditions? Why? Those questions lie at the heart of my work on bounded ethicality, which refers to the systematic and ordinary psychological constraints on our ethical behavior.
We ordinarily think of people as honest or dishonest, a broad-brush description which implicitly assumes that honesty is a personal characteristic that generalizes across decision domains. If so, a student who cheats on an exam is also more likely to shoplift or lie to a friend or partner. Does knowing that a corporate manager is opportunistic in one decision domain tell us much about whether the manager will misbehave in some other domain? In other words, are some managers just `bad apples’?
Recently, in the paper “Opportunism as a Managerial Trait: Predicting Insider Trading Profits and Misconduct” Usman Ali, Portoflio Manager at MIG Capital, and I study these questions by examining whether corporate managers who profit by insider trading in their firms’ stocks engage in other forms of misbehavior as well.
After the financial crisis of 2008 and the current, ongoing instances of large fines levied against banks and other financial companies, many people continually bemoan why penalties have not also included jail time and prosecution of executives who have behaved unethically. The message has finally reached the highest levels of government and change is on the horizon.
In a speech at NYU Law last week, hosted by the school's Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement, Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates presented the memo covering a new Department of Justice initiative designed to fight corporate fraud and other misconduct by going after individuals who perpetrated the wrongdoing. In addition to punitive actions against an organization (what many see as a macro-level punishment that does little to deter misconduct on the micro, or personal, level), the DOJ will now turn its considerable resources to affecting change at the source, i.e. those that engage in personal malfeasance under the guise of doing their job.
Part two of our interview with Richard Bistrong, CEO of Front-Line Anti-Bribery LLC [read part 1]
How has corruption changed since you were prosecuted? Could someone get away with the same behavior now?
The FBI has tripled its investigatory resources, and the real teeth of international law enforcement cooperation, which I experienced as a covert cooperator in the US and UK, has significantly increased, becoming more sophisticated over the last 5 years, as we have seen in a number of global investigations.
My own getting caught should be a cautionary tale for others.
Interview with Nick Epley, author of "Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want" and professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business
I study mind reading. Not the nonsensical, spooky or supernatural versions of it, but rather the very natural and intuitive version of it that we do whenever we make an inference about another person’s mind. We do this arguably every social interaction we have when we wonder what someone else is thinking, believing, feeling, or wanting. This is hard to do accurately because another person’s mind is inherently invisible.
You can’t see another person’s thought, hold a want, or poke a feeling. As a result, our inferences about the minds of others are far less than perfect, and we are consistently less accurate than we think we are. I’m most interested in understanding these gaps between our inferences about each other and reality. The mistakes we make are a common source of unnecessary conflict in everyday life.
Jerry Kohlberg amassed one of Wall Street’s largest fortunes after co-founding Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts (KKR) in 1976, but it was his consistent emphasis on ethics as a force for good, along with his warnings of the potential evils outsized wealth can tender, that we will remember most.
Framing is not just how you present a painting. Framing helps to communicate the type of art, it complements subject matter, and it influences how the viewer perceives the image. Framing also matters when it comes to business, and the language we use can deeply affect both the rules we follow and those we are willing to break.
While business has its own lexicon, a new piece in Ethisphere by Scott Killingsworth, Senior Counsel with Bryan Cave LLP in Atlanta, illustrates that when we couch the business of business in terms of war and gamification, we prime the pump for pernicious results.
In the past few months, a string of CEOs from large American public companies have spoken boldly on some of the most divisive societal concerns of our time: LGTB rights, gun control and racism and police brutality. The business press has dubbed them “Activist CEOs.”
Interview with David Mayer, associate professor in the Management and Organizations Area at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan
What are your main areas of research?
I am an organizational scholar who focuses primarily on one fundamental question: When and why do individuals in organizations engage in unethical and prosocial behavior? More specifically, I am interested how the social environment in organizations (e.g., leadership, peers, organizational climate, organizational practices) impacts unethical and prosocial behavior.
I am also fascinated with the question of whether employees and leaders think that business and work are part of the moral domain of social life and I have worked on several papers that demonstrate that at times “business” and “ethics” are inseparable and at times they are, as the truism suggests, an oxymoron.
In contrast to the bulk of work taking a social science lens on ethics, I typically take a positive lens by not focusing solely on identifying pitfalls and biases that lead to unethical behavior, but by understanding how the context at work can improve prosocial behavior, how employees and leaders in organizations can influence others to do good, and when leaders and employees are most likely to act in ways that suggest they consider work to be a moral domain.