Behavioral Business Ethics: Shaping an Emerging Field

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This book takes a look at how and why individuals display unethical behavior. It emphasizes the actual behavior of individuals rather than the specific business practices. It draws from work on psychology which is the scientific study of human behavior and thought processes. As Max Bazerman said, "efforts to improve ethical decision making are better aimed at understanding our psychological tendencies."
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About the author

David De Cremer is Professor of Behavioral Business Ethics at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Scientific director of the Erasmus Centre of Behavioral Ethics, and professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School, UK. He is the recipient of many scientific awards including the British Psychology Society award for "Outstanding Ph.D. thesis in social psychology," the "Jos Jaspars Early Career award for outstanding contributions to social psychology," the "Comenius European Young Psychologist award," and the "International Society for Justice Research Early Career Contribution Award." He has published extensively in the main journals in the fields of psychology, management and organizational behavior, edited five books and nine special issues and written a book on "When good people do bad things: Illustrating the psychology behind the financial crisis." His work has been discussed in the American Scientist, The Economist and The Financial Times. He writes regularly columns and opinion pieces in the financial newspapers and magazines in the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK. In 2009 he was elected as the best publishing Economist in the Netherlands. Previously, De Cremer held teaching and research positions at New York University (Department of Psychology and Centre of Experimental Social Sciences), Harvard University (Kennedy School of Government), Maastricht University (Department of Organization Studies and Department of Psychology), and Tilburg University (Department of Psychology). De Cremer holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Southampton, England, and an M.A. in Social Psychology from the University of Leuven, Belgium.

Ann E. Tenbrunsel (Ph.D., Northwestern University; M.B.A. Northwestern University; B.S.I.O.E. University of Michigan) is a Professor in the Mendoza College of Business at The University of Notre Dame and the Arthur F. and Mary J. O'Neil Co director of the Institute for Ethical Business Worldwide. Her research interests focus on the psychology of ethical decision-making, with her dissertation on this topic winning the State Farm Dissertation Award. Her work in this area has focused partially on the situational factors that lead to unethical decision-making, including the role that temptation, uncertainty, power and sanctions play in the ethical decision-making process. More recently, she has explored the process of ethical fading, arguing that individuals often make unethical decisions because the ethical aspects of the decision are hidden to the decision maker. She has also examined the role that organizations play in promoting unethical decisions, including the influence of formal and informal systems. In addition to recently coauthoring a review of the ethics field, she is the co-editor of four books on these topics and has published her research in a variety of journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Journal of Applied Psychology, and Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. She is currently serving on the Editorial Board of Business Ethics Quarterly and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes and has served as a guest editor for the Journal of Business Ethics. Ann has received grants from the National Science Foundation to pursue her work and has published teaching materials on ethical and environmental issues that have been used both domestically and internationally.

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Additional Information

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Published on
Mar 12, 2012
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Business & Economics / Business Ethics
Business & Economics / Organizational Behavior
Psychology / Industrial & Organizational Psychology
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The moment you walk into Menlo Innovations, you can sense the atmosphere full of energy, playfulness, enthusiasm, and maybe even . . . joy. As a package-delivery person once remarked, “I don’t know what you do, but whatever it is, I want to work here.”

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Despite ongoing efforts to maintain ethical standards, highly publicized episodes of corporate misconduct occur with disturbing frequency. Firms produce defective products, release toxic substances into the environment, or permit dangerous conditions to existin their workplaces. The propensity for irresponsible acts is not confined to rogue companies, but crops up in even the most respectable firms. Codes of Conduct is the first comprehensive attempt to understand these problems by applying the principles of modern behavioral science to the study of organizational behavior. Codes of Conduct probes the psychological and social processes through which companies and their managers respond to a wide array of ethical dilemmas, from risk and safety management to the treatment of employees. The contributors employ a wide range of case studies to illustrate the effects of social influence and group persuasion, organizational authority and communication, fragmented responsibility, and the process of rationalization. John Darley investigates how unethical acts are unintentionally assembled within organizations as a result of cascading pressures and social processes. Essays by Roderick Kramer and David Messick and by George Loewenstein focus on irrational decision making among managers. Willem Wagenaar examines how worker safety is endangered by management decisions that focus too narrowly on cost cutting and short time horizons. Essays by Baruch Fischhoff and by Robyn Dawes review the role of the expert in assessing environmental risk. Robert Bies reviews evidence that employees are more willing to provide personal information and to accept affirmative action programs if they are consulted on the intended procedures and goals. Stephanie Goodwin and Susan Fiske discuss how employees can be educated to base office judgments on personal qualities rather than on generalizations of gender, race, and ethnicity. Codes of Conduct makes an important scientific contribution to the understanding of decisionmaking and social processes in business, and offers clear insights into the design of effective policies to improve ethical conduct.
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