business ethics

Making Business Ethics a Cumulative Science

When businesses and researchers cooperate, collaborate and communicate, everyone wins. A new article in the premiere edition of Nature: Human Behavior by Ethical Systems founder Jonathan Haidt of NYU Stern and collaborator Linda Trevino of the University of Pennsylvania  illustrate just how far deeper partnership can take the field of business ethics research and why that will help companies and people to flourish.

In their piece, entitled “Make Business Ethics a Cumulative Science” Haidt and Trevino outline the various factors that have impeded ties between the business and research communities. Some are due to the misalignment between operational models— academics depend on open access to information towards the goal of building on research and understanding, while businesses need to maintain tight control over information about their inner-workings and ethics— while others are based in the complexity of business ethics as a field.

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By Design: Ethical Systems conference a great success

Ethical Systems, in collaboration with BSPA, held our first conference, Ethics By Design, on June 3. Thanks to the presenters and attendees, it was the behavioral science equivalent of an all-star game attended by the most passionate fans.

Close to 80 leaders from the ethics and compliance space, prominent professors from across the country and influential business leaders and thinkers came together to learn from what one participant called “a massive amount of brain power in the room.” And truly, it was. From those who wrote the seminal texts on business ethics to the people in charge of designing ethics programs at top companies, the attendee mix was evenly distributed among both academics and practitioners in order to stimulate dialog, research and connections.

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Ethics and the City: Regional programs for success

Ethical systems design is rooted in a systems-approach. We at Ethical Systems generally look at these at 3 levels: 1) personal ethics; 2) organizational ethics; and 3) the national culture and legal/regulatory environment. It is the interplay between these levels that creates a self-sustaining ethical culture.

Within the context of the third level, there is an emerging trend, where ethics and culture are being used to promote regional economic development. Ethics is taking center stage in two cities- Boston and Omaha- and galvanizing people to come together to engage in discussion and identify solutions.

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The Ethics ‘‘Fix’’: When Formal Systems Make a Difference

What makes a company's ethics program effective at deterring fraudulent conduct? In a 2014 paper, Ethical Systems collaborator Ann Tenbrunsel demonstrated the interdependence of formal and informal systems in fostering ethical behavior in organizations.

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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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