The algorithmic trade-off between accuracy and ethics

In The Ethical Algorithm, two University of Pennsylvania professors explain how social values such as fairness and privacy can be designed into machines.

A New Role for Business Leaders: Moral Integrator

With stakeholders and shareholders vying for attention, CEOs need to develop a new kind of ethical leadership to build trust in society and deliver results.

Becoming a Leader of Conscience

As executives are called upon to hit a broader range of ESG targets, they will need better ways to manage ethical dilemmas. Enter G. Richard Shell’s CLIP framework.

A Framework for Leaders Facing Difficult Decisions

Many traditional decision-making tools fall short when it comes to the complex, subjective decisions that today’s leaders face every day. In this piece, the author provides a simple framework to help guide leaders through these difficult decisions. By interrogating the ethics (what is viewed as acceptable in your organization or society), morals (your internal sense of right and wrong), and responsibilities associated with your specific … [ Read more ]

How to Build a Company That (Actually) Values Integrity

Canned codes of ethics that ask employees to check a box to certify that they’ve read the material and third-party online ethics training courses might be all that is required to comply with the law, but they don’t move the needle. Employees see them mostly as a nuisance they have to suffer through.

Business leaders need to do more. Here are six practices to help leaders … [ Read more ]

The Myths of Unethical Behaviour

This article attempts to debunk the myths of unethical behavior created by business ethicists and to use the work of criminologists, who have been studying immoral behaviors for generations, and researchers in social psychology, to argue that unethical corporate behavior is most often a result of situational and contextual factors, job dependence and cognitive factors, which is perhaps an even more disturbing conclusion than the … [ Read more ]

Bernie Madoff Explains Himself

A few years ago, professor Eugene Soltes phoned convicted felon Bernie Madoff and asked him an important question: How would you explain your actions and misconduct to students? The recorded answer offers sobering lessons for anyone with business ambitions.

Doing Business Where Governance Is Weak

Eight principles for succeeding in markets prone to ethical and legal risks.

Quality in Human Treatment: An Innovative Five-Level Framework

ESE’s Domènec Melé presents a framework for “human quality treatment” (HQT) based on a recognition and respect for our shared human characteristics as well as our uniqueness. He ranks the quality of treatment in an organization according to five levels: Maltreatment, Indifference, Justice, Care, and Development.

Bad Behavior

Even ordinary people are prone to shocking ethical lapses. As the empirical study of ethics has surged in the past two decades, clear evidence has emerged that ethical thinking and behavior are prone to many of the same mental processes and pitfalls as the rest of human thinking and behavior. Just as we humans are prone to systematic and predictable cognitive errors, we appear to … [ Read more ]

Justice in Ethics Programs: What are the issues to consider in developing ethics programs?

Ethics programs have arisen in response to the public’s outcry over the perceived unethical behavior of American business. The rapid response in the establishment of ethics programs is encouraging, though interesting issues have emerged that merit discussion.

The Ethics of Ethics Programs

In response to society’s demand for a stronger emphasis on business ethics, in light of recent publicity concerning unethical business practices, and in trying to be in compliance with new federal and state regulatory laws, many businesses have created or strengthened ethics programs. These programs are most effective when they flow out of a culture that values practicing business legally and ethically. However, there are … [ Read more ]

Clayton Christensen’s “How Will You Measure Your Life?”

World-renowned innovation expert Clayton M. Christensen explores the personal benefits of business research in the forthcoming book How Will You Measure Your Life? Co-authored with James Allworth and Karen Dillon, the book explains how well-tested academic theories can help us to find meaning and happiness not just at work, but in life. This excerpt describes how marginal thinking can lead to personal, professional, and moral … [ Read more ]

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

Whether we are dealing with business, global diplomacy, or family matters, we are all perplexed by the complexity of ethics in negotiation. This article introduces a simple, straightforward exercise that can lead to very meaningful discussions regarding ethics, negotiation tactics, and the ramifications and effectiveness of the implementation of those tactics and ethical decisions.

Don’t Mention It: How ‘Undiscussables’ Can Undermine an Organization

Recent high-profile scandals at Penn State, MF Global Holdings, Olympus and elsewhere raise questions about why organizations often fail to address significant internal problems that at best impede performance, and at worst could have devastating effects. In hindsight, especially to observers, it is clear what should have been done. But for employees, exposing such problems is more complicated than telling right from wrong, say experts … [ Read more ]

The Best Ways to Discuss Ethics

Companies can take a wide variety of approaches to how to discuss ethics but what actually works in guiding employees’ ethical behavior. While working with different organizations over the last six year, Francesca Gino has observed approaches across the entire spectrum. Her research suggests that subtle changes can produce big differences in the ethical conduct of organizational members. Three findings seem particularly relevant, and they … [ Read more ]

The Importance of ‘Don’t’ in Inducing Ethical Employee Behavior

In a new study, HBS professors Francesca Gino and Joshua D. Margolis look at two ways that companies can encourage ethical behavior: the promotion of good deeds or the prevention of bad deeds. It turns out that employees tend to act more ethically when focused on what not to do. That can be problematic in firms where success is commonly framed in terms of advancement … [ Read more ]

Opinion: The story BCG offered me $16,000 not to tell

A story from Keith Yost, an MIT grad, about his relatively short experience working at BCG in Dubai as a management consultant. [Hat tip to Brad Feld]

Why Your Gut Is More Ethical Than Your Brain

If you’ve ever been part of a discussion on ethics, in school or elsewhere, chances are you didn’t spend much time talking about your feelings. It’s believed that to live ethically, we must engage our reason, which reins in the whims and follies of emotion. Ethics, then, is heavy on Spock and light on Sally Struthers. But what if unethical behavior is actually spurred, rather … [ Read more ]