Articles & Blogs, Category = Business ethics & CSR

Wall Street and the Behavioral Science of Making Culture Ethical

Ethical Systems recently caught up with Engler to hear how he sees the way behavioral science can help organizations, particularly in the financial sector, assess and reform their cultures to make them more ethical. Engler published a book on this topic a couple of months ago, titled Remaking Culture on Wall Street: A Behavioral Science Approach for Building Trust from the Bottom Up.

To Get Companies to Take Action on Social Issues, Emphasize Morals, Not the Business Case

“We’ve seen the business case for a plethora of social issues: increasing diversity, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, corporate philanthropy, corporate volunteering programs, reducing poverty, and treating employees well. Yet some have questioned whether we always have to make the business case. For example, don’t many organizational leaders want to improve society as an end in itself? Research also shows the business case can activate a leader’s “economic schema,” or a tendency to make decisions solely from an economic viewpoint, which can lead to less compassionate behavior. So we set out to scientifically study whether the business case or the moral case for combatting social problems was most persuasive to managers.”

Oil Execs Should Be Tried for Crimes Against Humanity, Essayist Kate Aronoff Argues

A new essay published in Jacobin argues that the time has come to try the executives of oil companies for crimes against humanity as a result of their actions promoting climate change. There is a legal precedent, as the heads of several German companies were tired for such crimes after WWII. Even if it never comes to pass, discussing the idea could give us a sense of what steps to make the world a greener place are possible.”

What TV Comedy ‘The Good Place’ Tells Us about Why Banks and Other Corporations Do Bad Things

The Good Place, in case you don’t know, is about a happy afterlife accessed through earning enough life points from good deeds (bad deeds get point reductions). […] What The Good Place suggests to us about individuals is also applicable to companies: it is getting harder to be good. The bigger a corporation gets the more complex its business becomes. It is exposed to volatile markets and disruptive technologies. Its supply chains are likely to span the globe. There is so much more information to consider.”

Business Advice from Aristotle; The Philosopher’s Teachings Were Not an Absolute Condemnation of the Pursuit of Profit.

“Aristotle’s writings include ample fodder against today’s corporations; he emphasized the value in virtue and simplicity, and prioritized the betterment of society over the advancement of the individual. And yet, the philosopher’s teachings were not an absolute condemnation of the pursuit of profit. Denis Collins argues in the Journal of Business Ethics, ‘that it would be improper to use Aristotle’s thought as a blanket disapproval of business and profits’.”

We Must Rethink the Purpose of the Corporation

“The business corporation is among the most remarkable of all human innovations. Corporations are warring armies battling for supremacy in markets. The resulting symbiosis between command and competition has proved very fruitful. The unprecedented economic development seen since the middle of the 19th century would have been impossible without the resources and organisational capacities of that great invention — the limited liability joint-stock company. Yet, as Colin Mayer of Oxford university’s Saïd Business School argues in a remarkable and radical new book, Prosperity, all is not well with the corporation.”

When Competition Between Coworkers Leads to Unethical Behavior

“In our research, recently published in the journal Human Resource Management, we found that performance evaluation schemes based on peer comparison can encourage unethical behavior. […] We propose a subtle and simple intervention we call consequential reflection: prompt individuals to reflect on the positive and negative consequences of their decisions.”

Woke Washing: What Happens When Marketing Communications Don’t Match Corporate Practice

“Brand activism has become the new marketing tactic of choice, and a brand’s stance on societal and political issues can offer a differentiating factor in a fast-paced corporate marketplace. […] However, while consumers expect big brands to take a stand, they may not believe them when they do.”

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Adam Smith's Marketplace of Life

Adam Smith's Marketplace of Life (2002)

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