Ethically Speaking

Author: Mendoza College


The following is an excerpt from the Enterprise Resilience Blog which discusses the book co-authored by Ann Tenbrunsel, the Rex and Alice A. Martin Professor of Business Ethics & Co-director of the Institute for Ethical Business Worldwide.  To read the entire Blog visit: Ethically Speaking.

Even business people with sterling reputations like Warren Buffet can find themselves unwittingly caught in ethical dilemmas ["Stumbling Into Bad Behavior," by Max H. Bazerman and Ann E. Tenbrunsel, The New York Times, 20 April 2011]. Bazerman, a professor of business administration at Harvard, and Tenbrunsel, a professor of management at the University of Notre Dame, write:

"It's easy to look at big names like Warren E. Buffett, and big companies like Ernst and Young, and be judgmental. Of course they overlooked ethical lapses. Why wouldn't they? That's business. Regulators, prosecutors and journalists tend to focus on corruption caused by willful actions or ignorance. But in our research, and in the work of other scholars who study the psychology of behavioral ethics, we have found that much unethical conduct that goes on, whether in social life or work life, happens because people are unconsciously fooling themselves. They overlook transgressions — bending a rule to help a colleague, overlooking information that might damage the reputation of a client — because it is in their interest to do so."