Mendoza School of Business

‘Ethical fading’ may not be foreseen

Published: April 18, 2010 / Author: Steven Oberbeck

Whenever a business scandal comes to light, big or small, it isn’t unusual for high-minded folks to pause, take a step back and wonder how those miscreants could have been so unethical.

Kristina Diekman, a professor of management at the University of Utah, has a few insights.

“People often deceive themselves about how they themselves would act when faced with an ethical question,” she said. “But it isn’t unusual for someone in the heat of the moment to make a decision or behave in a way that they never would have predicted about themselves.”

Put another way, Diekman said when people imagine what they would do when faced with an ethical question, their thinking is based upon what they honestly believe they should do. But when it comes down to actually making decisions, often people tend to focus instead on what they want to do.

Prof. Ann Tenbrunsel said the key to preventing such behavior is understanding and recognizing when and how such “ethical fading” occurs. To read the entire article go to:


Topics: Mendoza