Jonathan Haidt's blog

Making capitalism more ethical: Dynamism with decency

When I tell people I teach business ethics, they often ask: “isn’t that an oxymoron?” Their response is not unwarranted. Much of my course is about the clever ways businesses have found to exploit their workers, sidestep regulations, and foist external costs onto others. Businesspeople are brilliant at finding opportunities and some of those opportunities are exploitative.

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Making ethics easy: New essay in Ethisphere with Jeff Kaplan

Collaborator Jeff Kaplan and I just published a 3 page guide in Ethisphere Magazine outlining how companies can begin using EthicalSystems.org to create a workplace with higher levels of trust among colleagues and leadership. Ethisphere has kindly allowed us to post a PDF of the article. 

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Our first year

EthicalSystems.org is almost one year old, and like all one-year-olds, it has grown a lot in its first year. When we launched the site in January, we had 18 collaborators, 14 research pages, and no real budget. But we were bound together by the belief that the massive body of research on ethics in organizations could and should be synthesized and made accessible, for free, to the business community, regulators, and the general public.

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City-Level Business Ethics

[Editor’s note: We at EthicalSystems.org have been so pleased to learn about the activities of the Omaha Business Ethics Alliance that we invited its executive director, Beverly Kracher, to write a guest blog post introducing the Alliance. Cities are indeed an important and usually overlooked level in the nested systems that one should look at when doing ethical systems design.]

Guest post by Beverly Kracher, PhD, the Robert B. Daugherty Endowed Chair in Business Ethics & Society at Creighton University and Executive Director and President of the Business Ethics Alliance.

Since its inception, the discipline of business ethics has focused on strategies to help business leaders, organizations, professional associations, industry groups, and nations. But there is a missing ingredient in this recipe for keeping ethics front-of-mind and grappling with major business issues. I call it city-level business ethics.

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Profits should be a result of excellence--not the main goal

I recently received an email from Bill Budinger, the founder of Rodel Inc. Bill expressed a core idea of about great leadership: that if you put people and mission before profits, then the profits will flow. Bill went on to explain how putting profits first makes it very difficult to run an ethical company. Bill's formulation was so clear, and backed up with such authority of experience, that I asked him for permission to post his email. The key section is in bold, below.

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Dear Professor Haidt:

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Three Stories about the Ethics of Capitalism

[Cross posted from RighteousMind.com. Ethical Systems design is a way to make the 3rd story about capitalism come true]

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Five Key Features of a Good Ethics and Compliance Program

There's a lot of momentum in the corporate world for creating real and effective ethics and compliance programs (spurred on by the incentives in laws such as the Federal Sentencing Guidelines).

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Business Novels and Good Character(s)

THIS IS A GUEST POST, BY CHRISTOPHER MICHAELSON, Associate Professor of ethics and business law at Opus college of Business, University of St. Thomas

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Research on the Giving Voice to Values curriculum

I have been corresponding with Mary Gentile, the creator of the widely used Giving Voice to Values curriculum. I asked her: “Is there any research showing behavioral effects of the curriculum? I know that this is extremely difficult to show, beyond the classroom.”

Here is her very thoughtful response, which she graciously agreed to let me post publicly. I think it offers encouragement for believing that the curriculum is effective:

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How the government created the legal ecosystem for the financial crisis

Many Americans are angry that hardly any executives have gone to jail for fraud or other actions that caused the global financial crisis. In an essay in the New York Review of Books, judge Jed Rakoff gives his analysis of why federal prosecutors have not pressed charges. In part, it’s because the Federal Government itself was guilty. Judge Rakoff is the U.S.

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