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Friday, December 16, 2016

Why moral companies do immoral things

Michael Skapinker
Financial Times
Originally published November 23, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

But I wondered about the “better than average” research cited above. Could the illusion of moral superiority apply to organisations as well as individuals? And could companies believe they were so superior morally that the occasional lapse into immorality did not matter much? The Royal Holloway researchers said they had recently conducted experiments examining just these issues and were preparing to publish the results. They had found that political groups with a sense of moral superiority felt justified in behaving aggressively towards opponents. In experiments, this meant denying them a monetary benefit.

“It isn’t difficult to imagine a similar scenario arising in a competitive organisational context. To the extent that employees may perceive their organisation to be morally superior to other organisations, they might feel licensed to ‘cut corners’ or behave somewhat unethically — for example, to give their organisation a competitive edge.

“These behaviours may be perceived as justified … or even ethical, insofar as they promote the goals of their morally superior organisation,” they told me.

The article is here.