Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label Culture of Ethics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Culture of Ethics. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Can Business Schools Have Ethical Cultures, Too?

Brian Gallagher
Originally posted 18 Nov 19

Here is an excerpt:

The informal aspects of an ethical culture are pretty intuitive. These include role models and heroes, norms, rituals, stories, and language. “The systems can be aligned to support ethical behavior (or unethical behavior),” Eury and Treviño write, “and the systems can be misaligned in a way that sends mixed messages, for instance, the organization’s code of conduct promotes one set of behaviors, but the organization’s norms encourage another set of behaviors.” Although Smeal hasn’t completely rid itself of unethical norms, it has fostered new ethical ones, like encouraging teachers to discuss the school’s honor code on the first day of class. Rituals can also serve as friendly reminders about the community’s values—during finals week, for example, the honor and integrity program organizes complimentary coffee breaks, and corporate sponsors support ethics case competitions. Eury and Treviño also write how one powerful story has taken hold at Smeal, about a time when the college’s MBA program, after it implemented the honor code, rejected nearly 50 applicants for plagiarism, and on the leadership integrity essay, no less. (Smeal was one of the first business schools to use plagiarism-detection software in its admissions program.)

Given the inherently high turnover rate at a school—and a diverse student population—it’s a constant challenge to get the community’s newcomers to aspire to meet Smeal’s honor and integrity standards. Since there’s no stopping students from graduating, Eury and Treviño stress the importance of having someone like Smeal’s honor and integrity director—someone who, at least part-time, focuses on fostering an ethical culture. “After the first leadership integrity director stepped down from her role, the college did not fill her position for a few years in part because of a coming change in deans,” Eury and Treviño write. The new Dean eventually hired an honor and integrity director who served in her role for 3-and-a-half years, but, after she accepted a new role in the college, the business school took close to 8 months to fill the role again. “In between each of these leadership changes, the community continued to change and grow, and without someone constantly ‘tending to the ethical culture garden,’ as we like to say, the ‘weeds’ will begin to grow,” Eury and Treviño write. Having an honor and integrity director makes an “important symbolic statement about the college’s commitment to tending the culture but it also makes a more substantive contribution to doing so.”

The info is here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Aiming For Moral Mediocrity

Eric Schwitzgebel
Res Philosophica, Vol 96 (3), July 2019.
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.1806


Most people aim to be about as morally good as their peers—not especially better, not especially worse. We do not aim to be good, or non-bad, or to act permissibly rather than impermissibly, by fixed moral standards. Rather, we notice the typical behavior of our peers, then calibrate toward so-so. This is a somewhat bad way to be, but it’s not a terribly bad way to be. We are somewhat morally criticizable for having low moral ambitions. Typical arguments defending the moral acceptability of low moral ambitions—the So-What-If-I’m-Not-a-Saint Excuse, the Fairness Objection, the Happy Coincidence Defense, and the claim that you’re already in The-Most-You-Can-Do Sweet Spot—do not survive critical scrutiny.


Most of us do not aim to be morally good by absolute standards. Instead we aim to be about as morally good as our peers. Our peers are somewhat morally criticizable—not morally horrible, but morally mediocre. If we aim to approximately match their mediocrity, we are somewhat morally
criticizable for having such low personal moral ambitions. It’s tempting to try to rationalize one’s mediocrity away by admitting merely that one is not a saint, or by appealing to the Fairness Objection or the Happy Coincidence Defense, or by flattering oneself that one is already in TheMost-You-Can-Do Sweet Spot—but these self-serving excuses don’t survive scrutiny.

Consider where you truly aim. Maybe moral goodness isn’t so important to you, as long as you’re not among the worst. If so, own your mediocrity.  Accept the moral criticism you deserve for your low moral ambitions, or change them.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Walking on Eggshells With Trainees in the Clinical Learning Environment—Avoiding the Eggshells Is Not the Answer.

Gold MA, Rosenthal SL, Wainberg ML.
JAMA Pediatr. 
Published online August 05, 2019.

Here is an excerpt:

Every trainee inevitably will encounter material or experiences that create discomfort. These situations are necessary for growth and faculty should be able to have the freedom in those situations to challenge the trainee’s assumptions.5 However, faculty have expressed concern that in the effort to manage the imbalance of power and protect trainees from the potential of abuse and harassment, we have labeled difficult conversations and discomfort as maltreatment. When faculty feel that the academic institution sides with trainees without considering the faculty member’s perspective and actions, they may feel as if their reputation and hard work as an educator has been challenged or ruined. For example, if a trainee reports a faculty member for creating a “sexually hostile” environment because the faculty has requested that the trainee take explicit sexual histories of adolescents, it may result in the faculty avoiding this type of difficult conversation and lead to a lack of skill development in trainees. Another unintended consequence is that trainees will not gain skills in having difficult conversations with their faculty, and without feedback they may not grow in their clinical expertise. As our workforce becomes increasingly diverse and we care for a range of populations, the likelihood of misunderstandings and the need to talk about sensitive topics and have difficult conversations increases.

There are several ways to create an environment that fosters the ability for trainees and faculty to walk across eggshells without fear. It is important to continue medical school training regarding unconscious bias, cultural sensitivity, and communication skills. This should include helping trainees not only apply these skills with each other and with their patients but also with their faculty. Trainees are likely to have as many unconscious biases toward their faculty as their faculty have toward them. For example, one study found that at one institution, female medical school faculty were given significantly lower teaching evaluations by third-year medical students in all clerkship rotations compared with male medical school faculty. Pediatrics showed the second largest difference, with surgery having the greatest difference.

The info is here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Fostering an Ethical Culture on Your Sales Team

Kristen Bell DeTienne, Bradley R. Agle, and others
Harvard Business Review
Originally posted June 20, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

Create a Culture of Ethical Values. 

Employees can suffer several negative consequences if they are told to do things that conflict with their ethical values. Meanwhile, companies can suffer negative consequences from employees not living up to the organization’s values. Managers can help by involving sales associates in conversations about personal and organizational values and by helping employees reconcile discrepancies and honor both their personal and organizational values.

During one of our ethics training sessions with a U.S.-based corporation, employees first described their own values and the company’s values. In teams, they set goals for sales achievement, then wrote a code of conduct that would promote that achievement while still respecting both individual and company values. One associate’s value was “not to push the clients too much when they need time to decide.” This seemed at odds with the company’s values to “finalize the sale” and “never abandon an opportunity.” So, the employees created a rule that honored both values: “Give your customers the time they need to think about your offer, but immediately fix the next appointment.” This hybrid rule brought peace of mind to employees—and a better sales experience to their customers.

The info is here.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

'Ethics Bots' and Other Ways to Move Your Code of Business Conduct Beyond Puffery

Michael Blanding
Harvard Business Week
Originally posted May 14, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

Even if not ready to develop or deploy such technologically advanced solutions, companies can still make their ethics codes more intuitive, interactive, and practical for day-to-day decision-making, Soltes says. That may mean reducing the number of broad-brush value statements and uninspired clip-art, instead making the document more concise in describing practical guidelines for the company’s employees.

He also recommends thinking beyond the legal department to bring in other areas of the company, such as marketing, communications, or consumer behavior specialists, to help design a code that will be understandable to employees. Uber, for example, rolled out a mobile app-focused version of its ethics code to better serve its employees, who are younger and more tech savvy.

Lastly, Soltes advises that firms not be afraid to experiment. An ethics code shouldn’t be a monolith, but rather a living document that can be adapted to the expanding needs of a firm and its employees. After rolling out a policy to a subgroup of employees, for example, companies should evaluate how the code is actually being used in practice and how it can be further refined and improved.

That kind of creativity can help companies stay away from the scrutiny of regulators and avoid negative headlines. “Ultimately, the goal should not simply be to just create a legal document, but instead a valuable tool that helps cultivate the kind of behavior and culture the firm wants to support on a day-to-day basis,” Soltes says.

The info is here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

4 Ways Lying Becomes the Norm at a Company

Ron Carucci
Harvard Business Review
Originally published February 15, 2019

Many of the corporate scandals in the past several years — think Volkswagen or Wells Fargo — have been cases of wide-scale dishonesty. It’s hard to fathom how lying and deceit permeated these organizations. Some researchers point to group decision-making processes or psychological traps that snare leaders into justification of unethical choices. Certainly those factors are at play, but they largely explain dishonest behavior at an individual level and I wondered about systemic factors that might influence whether or not people in organizations distort or withhold the truth from one another.

This is what my team set out to understand through a 15-year longitudinal study. We analyzed 3,200 interviews that were conducted as part of 210 organizational assessments to see whether there were factors that predicted whether or not people inside a company will be honest. Our research yielded four factors — not individual character traits, but organizational issues — that played a role. The good news is that these factors are completely within a corporation’s control and improving them can make your company more honest, and help avert the reputation and financial disasters that dishonesty can lead to.

The stakes here are high. Accenture’s Competitive Agility Index — a 7,000-company, 20-industry analysis, for the first time tangibly quantified how a decline in stakeholder trust impacts a company’s financial performance. The analysis reveals more than half (54%) of companies on the index experienced a material drop in trust — from incidents such as product recalls, fraud, data breaches and c-suite missteps — which equates to a minimum of $180 billion in missed revenues. Worse, following a drop in trust, a company’s index score drops 2 points on average, negatively impacting revenue growth by 6% and EBITDA by 10% on average.

The info is here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Rise Of The Chief Ethics Officer

Forbes Insight Team
Originally posted March 27, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

Robert Foehl is now executive-in-residence for business law and ethics at the Ohio University College of Business. In industry, he’s best known as the man who laid the ethical groundwork for Target as the company’s first director of corporate ethics.

At a company like Target, says Foehl, ethical issues arise every day. “This includes questions about where goods are sourced, how they are manufactured, the environment, justice and equality in the treatment of employees and customers, and obligations to the community,” he says. “In retail, the biggest issues tend to be around globalism and how we market to consumers. Are people being manipulated? Are we being discriminatory?”

For Foehl, all of these issues are just part of various ethical frameworks that he’s built over the years; complex philosophical frameworks that look at measures of happiness and suffering, the potential for individual harm, and even the impact of a decision on the “virtue” of the company. As he sees it, bringing a technology like AI into the mix has very little impact on that.

“The fact that you have an emerging technology doesn’t matter,” he says, “since you have thinking you can apply to any situation.” Whether it’s AI or big data or any other new tech, says Foehl, “we still put it into an ethical framework. Just because it involves a new technology doesn’t mean it’s a new ethical concept.”

The info is here.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Leaders matter morally: The role of ethical leadership in shaping employee moral cognition and misconduct.

Moore, C., Mayer, D. M., Chiang, F. F. T., Crossley, C., Karlesky, M. J., & Birtch, T. A. (2019). Journal of Applied Psychology, 104(1), 123-145.


There has long been interest in how leaders influence the unethical behavior of those who they lead. However, research in this area has tended to focus on leaders’ direct influence over subordinate behavior, such as through role modeling or eliciting positive social exchange. We extend this research by examining how ethical leaders affect how employees construe morally problematic decisions, ultimately influencing their behavior. Across four studies, diverse in methods (lab and field) and national context (the United States and China), we find that ethical leadership decreases employees’ propensity to morally disengage, with ultimate effects on employees’ unethical decisions and deviant behavior. Further, employee moral identity moderates this mediated effect. However, the form of this moderation is not consistent. In Studies 2 and 4, we find that ethical leaders have the largest positive influence over individuals with a weak moral identity (providing a “saving grace”), whereas in Study 3, we find that ethical leaders have the largest positive influence over individuals with a strong moral identity (catalyzing a “virtuous synergy”). We use these findings to speculate about when ethical leaders might function as a “saving grace” versus a “virtuous synergy.” Together, our results suggest that employee misconduct stems from a complex interaction between employees, their leaders, and the context in which this relationship takes place, specifically via leaders’ influence over employees’ moral cognition.

Here is the Conclusion:

Our research points to one of the reasons why 'cleaning house' of morally compromised leaders after scandals may be less effective than we might expect. The fact that leadership affects the extent to which subordinates morally disengage means that their influence may be more profound and nefarious than one might conclude given earlier understandings of the mechanisms through which ethical leadership elicits its outcomes. One can eliminate perverse incentives and remove poor role models, but once a leader shifts how subordinates cognitively construe decisions with ethical import, their continuing influence on employee misconduct may be harder to undo.

The info is here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Georgia Tech has had a ‘dramatic increase’ in ethics complaints, president says

Eric Stirgus
The Atlantic Journal-Constitution
Originally published November 6, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in September Georgia Tech is often slow in completing ethics investigations. Georgia Tech took an average of 102 days last year to investigate a complaint, the second-longest time of any college or university in the University System of Georgia, according to a report presented in April to the state’s Board of Regents. Savannah State University had the longest average time, 135 days.

Tuesday’s meeting is the kick-off to more than a week’s worth of discussions at Tech to improve its ethics culture. University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley ordered Georgia Tech to update him on what officials there are doing to improve after reports found problems such as a top official who was a paid board member of a German-based company that had contracts with Tech. Peterson’s next update is due Monday.

A few employees told Peterson they’re concerned that many administrators are now afraid to make decisions and asked the president what’s being done to address that. Peterson acknowledged “there’s some anxiety on campus” and asked employees to “embrace each other” as they work through what he described as an embarrassing chapter in the school’s history.

The info is here.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Leaders matter morally: The role of ethical leadership in shaping employee moral cognition and misconduct.

Moore, C., Mayer, D. M., Chiang, and others
Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication.


There has long been interest in how leaders influence the unethical behavior of those who they lead. However, research in this area has tended to focus on leaders’ direct influence over subordinate behavior, such as through role modeling or eliciting positive social exchange. We extend this research by examining how ethical leaders affect how employees construe morally problematic decisions, ultimately influencing their behavior. Across four studies, diverse in methods (lab and field) and national context (the United States and China), we find that ethical leadership decreases employees’ propensity to morally disengage, with ultimate effects on employees’ unethical decisions and deviant behavior. Further, employee moral identity moderates this mediated effect. However, the form of this moderation is not consistent. In Studies 2 and 4, we find that ethical leaders have the largest positive influence over individuals with a weak moral identity (providing a “saving grace”), whereas in Study 3, we find that ethical leaders have the largest positive influence over individuals with a strong moral identity (catalyzing a “virtuous synergy”). We use these findings to speculate about when ethical leaders might function as a “saving grace” versus a “virtuous synergy.” Together, our results suggest that employee misconduct stems from a complex interaction between employees, their leaders, and the context in which this relationship takes place, specifically via leaders’ influence over employees’ moral cognition.

Beginning of the Discussion section

Three primary findings emerge from these four studies. First, we consistently find a negative relationship between ethical leadership and employee moral disengagement. This supports our primary hypothesis: leader behavior is associated with how employees construe decisions with ethical import. Our manipulation of ethical leadership and its resulting effects provide confidence that ethical leadership has a direct causal influence over employee moral disengagement.

In addition, this finding was consistent in both American and Chinese work contexts, suggesting the effect is not culturally bound.

Second, we also found evidence across all four studies that moral disengagement functions as a mechanism to explain the relationship between ethical leadership and employee unethical decisions and behaviors. Again, this result was consistent across time- and respondent-separated field studies and an experiment, in American and Chinese organizations, and using different measures of our primary constructs, providing important assurance of the generalizability of our findings and bolstering our confidence that moral disengagement as an important, unique, and robust mechanism to explain ethical leaders’ positive effects within their organizations.

Finally, we found persistent evidence that the centrality of an employee’s moral identity plays a key role in the relationship between ethical leadership and employee unethical decisions and behavior (through moral disengagement). However, the nature of this moderated relationship varied across studies.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Building A More Ethical Workplace Culture

Originally posted March 20, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

The Worst News

Among the positive findings in the report was the fact that reporting is on the rise by a whole 19 percent, with 69 percent of employees stating they had reported misconduct in the last two years.

But that number, Harned said, comes with a bitter side note. Retaliation has also spiked during the same time period, with 44 percent reporting it – up from 22 percent two years ago.

The rate of retaliation going up faster than the rate of reporting, Harned noted, is disturbing.

“That is a very real problem for employees, and I think over the last year, we’ve seen what a huge problem it has become for employers.”

The door-to-door on retaliation for reporting is short – about three weeks on average. That is just about the time it takes for firms – even those serious about doing a good job with improving compliance – to get any investigation up and organized.

“By then, the damage is already done,” said Harned. “We are better at seeing misconduct, but we aren’t doing enough to prevent it from happening – especially because retaliation is such a big problem.”

There are not easy solutions, Harned noted, but the good news – even in the face of the worst news – is that improvement is possible, and is even being logged in some segments. Employees, she stated, mostly come in the door with a moral compass to call their own, and want to work in environments that are healthy, not vicious.

“The answer is culture is everything: Companies need to constantly communicate to employees that conduct is the expectation for all levels of the organization, and that breaking those rules will always have consequences.”

The post is here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

How One Bad Employee Can Corrupt a Whole Team

Stephen Dimmock and William C. Gerken
Harvard Business Review
Originally posted March 5, 2018

One bad apple, the saying goes, can ruin the bunch. So, too, with employees.

Our research on the contagiousness of employee fraud tells us that even your most honest employees become more likely to commit misconduct if they work alongside a dishonest individual. And while it would be nice to think that the honest employees would prompt the dishonest employees to better choices, that’s rarely the case.

Among co-workers, it appears easier to learn bad behavior than good.

For managers, it is important to realize that the costs of a problematic employee go beyond the direct effects of that employee’s actions — bad behaviors of one employee spill over into the behaviors of other employees through peer effects. By under-appreciating these spillover effects, a few malignant employees can infect an otherwise healthy corporate culture.

History — and current events — are littered with outbreaks of misconduct among co-workers: mortgage underwriters leading up to the financial crisis, stock brokers at boiler rooms such as Stratton Oakmont, and cross-selling by salespeople at Wells Fargo.

The information is here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Oxfam scandal is not about morality, but abuse of power

Kerry Boyd Anderson
Originally posted February 18, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

Two of these problems directly relate to the #metoo movement against sexual harassment and abuse. First, the Oxfam scandal is not about personal sexual immorality. It is about abuse of power and sexual exploitation. When these men entered a war zone or an area that had suffered a massive natural disaster, they were not dealing with women there on equal terms; they were in a position of power and relative wealth, and offered women in desperate circumstances money in exchange for sex. These women were part of the population the aid workers were supposed to be helping, so using them in this way constitutes a clear breach of trust. This is one of the #metoo movement’s key points — this type of behavior is not about personal morality, it is about abuse of power.

Another problem that the scandal highlights is the way that many organizations protect the men who are behaving badly. In the Oxfam case, the focus has been on one man in a leadership position: Roland van Hauwermeiren, who created an enabling environment and participated in the hiring of prostitutes. Van Hauwermeiren previously led a project team for the charity Merlin in Liberia, where a colleague reported that men on the team were hiring local women as prostitutes. After an internal investigation, he resigned. He later led Oxfam’s team in Chad, where similar accusations arose. Despite this, Oxfam put him in charge of a team in Haiti, where the behavior continued. Following an investigation, van Hauwermeiren resigned, but he then went on to work for Action Against Hunger in Bangladesh. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Best Practices for School-Based Moral Education

Peter Meindl, Abigail Quirk, Jesse Graham
Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences 
First Published December 21, 2017


How can schools help students build moral character? One way is to use prepackaged moral education programs, but as we report here, their effectiveness tends to be limited. What, then, can schools do? We took two steps to answer this question. First, we consulted more than 50 of the world’s leading social scientists. These scholars have spent decades studying morality, character, or behavior change but until now few had used their expertise to inform moral education practices. Second, we searched recent studies for promising behavior change techniques that apply to school-based moral education. These two lines of investigation congealed into two recommendations: Schools should place more emphasis on hidden or “stealthy” moral education practices and on a small set of “master” virtues. Throughout the article, we describe practices flowing from these recommendations that could improve both the effectiveness and efficiency of school-based moral education.

The article is here.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Middle managers may turn to unethical behavior to face unrealistic expectations

Science Daily
Originally published October 5, 2017

While unethical behavior in organizations is often portrayed as flowing down from top management, or creeping up from low-level positions, a team of researchers suggest that middle management also can play a key role in promoting wide-spread unethical behavior among their subordinates.

In a study of a large telecommunications company, researchers found that middle managers used a range of tactics to inflate their subordinates' performance and deceive top management, according to Linda Treviño, distinguished professor of organizational behavior and ethics, Smeal College of Business, Penn State. The managers may have been motivated to engage in this behavior because leadership instituted performance targets that were unrealizable, she added.


Middle managers also used a range of tactics to coerce their subordinates to keep up the ruse, including rewards for unethical behavior and public shaming for those who were reluctant to engage in the unethical tactics.

"Interestingly, what we didn't see is managers speaking up, we didn't see them pushing back against the unrealistic goals," said Treviño. "We know a lot about what we refer to as 'voice' in an organization and people are fearful and they tend to keep quiet for the most part."

The article is here.

The target article is here.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Holding People Responsible for Ethical Violations: The Surprising Benefits of Accusing Others

Jessica A. Kennedy and Maurice E. Schweitzer
Wharton Behavioral Lab


Individuals who accuse others of unethical behavior can derive significant benefits.  Compared to individuals who do not make accusations, accusers engender greater trust and are perceived to have higher ethical standards. In Study 1, accusations increased trust in the accuser and lowered trust in the target. In Study 2, we find that accusations elevate trust in the accuser by boosting perceptions of the accuser’s ethical standards. In Study 3, we find that accusations boosted both attitudinal and behavioral trust in the accuser, decreased trust in the target, and promoted relationship conflict within the group. In Study 4, we examine the moderating role of moral hypocrisy. Compared to individuals who did not make an accusation, individuals who made an accusation were trusted more if they had acted ethically but not if they had acted unethically. Taken together, we find that accusations have significant interpersonal consequences. In addition to harming accused targets, accusations can substantially benefit accusers.

Here is part of the Discussion:

It is possible, however, that even as accusations promote group conflict, accusations could benefit organizations by enforcing norms and promoting ethical behavior. To ensure ethical conduct, organizations must set an ethical tone (Mayer et al., 2013). To do so, organizations need to encourage detection and punishment of unethical behavior. Punishment of norm violators has been conceptualized as an altruistic behavior (Fehr & Gachter, 2000). Our findings challenge this conceptualization. Rather than reflecting altruism, accusers may derive substantial personal benefits from punishing norm violators. The trust benefits of making an accusation provide a reason for even the most self-interested actors to intervene when they perceive unethical activity. That is, even when self-interest is the norm (e.g., Pillutla & Chen, 1999), individuals have trust incentives to openly oppose unethical behavior.

The research is here.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Official sends memo to agency leaders about ethical conduct

Avery Anapol
The Hill
Originally published October 10, 2017

The head of the Office of Government Ethics is calling on the leaders of government agencies to promote an “ethical culture.”

David Apol, acting director of the ethics office, sent a memo to agency heads titled, “The Role of Agency Leaders in Promoting an Ethical Culture.” The letter was sent to more than 100 agency heads, CNN reported.

“It is essential to the success of our republic that citizens can trust that your decisions and the decisions made by your agency are motivated by the public good and not by personal interests,” the memo reads.

Several government officials are under investigation for their use of chartered planes for government business.

One Cabinet official, former Health secretary Tom Price, resigned over his use of private jets. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is also under scrutiny for his travels.

“I am deeply concerned that the actions of some in Government leadership have harmed perceptions about the importance of ethics and what conduct is, and is not, permissible,” Apol wrote.

The memo includes seven suggested actions that Apol says leaders should take to strengthen the ethical culture in their agencies. The suggestions include putting ethics officials in senior leadership meetings, and “modeling a ‘Should I do it?’ mentality versus a ‘Can I do it?’ mentality.”

The article is here.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Leadership Takes Self-Control. Here’s What We Know About It

Kai Chi (Sam) Yam, Huiwen Lian, D. Lance Ferris, Douglas Brown
Harvard Business Review
Originally published June 5, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

Our review identified a few consequences that are consistently linked to having lower self-control at work:
  1. Increased unethical/deviant behavior: Studies have found that when self-control resources are low, nurses are more likely to be rude to patients, tax accountants are more likely to engage in fraud, and employees in general engage in various forms of unethical behavior, such as lying to their supervisors, stealing office supplies, and so on.
  2. Decreased prosocial behavior: Depleted self-control makes employees less likely to speak up if they see problems at work, less likely to help fellow employees, and less likely to engage in corporate volunteerism.
  3. Reduced job performance: Lower self-control can lead employees to spend less time on difficult tasks, exert less effort at work, be more distracted (e.g., surfing the internet in working time), and generally perform worse than they would had their self-control been normal.
  4. Negative leadership styles: Perhaps what’s most concerning is that leaders with lower self-control often exhibit counter-productive leadership styles. They are more likely to verbally abuse their followers (rather than using positive means to motivate them), more likely to build weak relationships with their followers, and they are less charismatic. Scholars have estimated that the cost to corporations in the United States for such a negative and abusive behavior is at $23.8 billion annually.
Our review makes clear that helping employees maintain self-control is an important task if organizations want to be more effective and ethical. Fortunately, we identified three key factors that can help leaders foster self-control among employees and mitigate the negative effects of losing self-control.

The article is here.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Genitals photographed, shared by UPMC hospital employees: a common violation in health care industry

David Wenner
The Patriot News/PennLive.com
Updated September 16, 2017

You might assume anyone in healthcare would know better. Smart phones aren't new. Health care providers have long wrestled with the patient privacy- and medical ethics-related ramifications. Yet once again, smart phones have contributed to a very public black eye for a health care provider.

UPMC Bedford in Everett, Pa. has been cited by the Pennsylvania Department of Health after employees snapped and shared photos and video of an unconscious patient who needed surgery to remove an object from a genital. Numerous employees, including two doctors, were disciplined for being present.

It's not the first time unauthorized photos were taken of a hospital patient and shared or posted on social media.

  • Last year, a nurse in New York lost her license after taking a smart phone photo of an unconscious patient's penis and sending it to some of her co-workers. She also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal charges.
  • The Los Angeles Times in 2013 wrote about an anesthesiologist in California who put a sticker of a mustache on the face of an unconscious female patient, with a nurse's aid then taking a picture. That article also reported allegations of a medical device salesman taking photos of a naked woman without her knowledge.
  • In 2010, employees at a hospital in Florida were disciplined after taking and posting online photos of a shark attack victim who didn't survive. No one was fired, with the hospital concluding the incident was the "result of poor judgement rather than malicious intent," according to an article in Radiology Today. 
  • Many such incidents have involved nursing homes. An article published by the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination in 2016 stated, "In the shadow of the social media revolution, a disturbing trend has begun to emerge of [nursing home] employees posting and sharing degrading images of their residents on social media." An investigation published by ProPublica in 2015 detailed 47 cases since 2012 of workers at nursing homes and assisted living facilities sharing photos or videos of residents on Facebook. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Only Way Is Ethics: Why Good People do Bad Thing and How To Stop Us



In social psychology we have this thing called the ‘fundamental attribution error.’ It refers
to the fact that when people see somebody do something unusual, their first reaction
is to assume that the act expressed the person’s internal values or personality (“he’s such
a crook!”), and underestimate the power of external factors and pressures. So, when we
hear about a company brought down by an ethics scandal, we immediately search for
the culprits, the bad actors, the bad apples. We can almost always find them, fire them,
maybe indict them, and move on… to the next scandal.

Sometimes a scandal is caused by one psychopath or sleazebag in the C-suite. But
usually not. If you really want to understand the causes of cheating, risky and unethical
behavior within complex organizations, you have to get past this attributional error
and examine the barrel, not just the apples in the barrel. You have to learn some social
psychology, which is like putting on a pair of magic glasses that let you see social
forces and cognitive biases in action.

Once you see how profoundly we are all shaped by local organizational culture, and how
clueless we often are about the real causes behind our actions, you can begin to work
with human psychology, adapt your processes to it, and obtain far better results.
Mind Gym shines a spotlight on this challenge in this whitepaper. A great deal of their
evidence shows that having ethics pays, yet most organizations focus on compliance,
rather than on ethics. Mind Gym offers you a set of tools and a framework to begin
diagnosing your own organization. And they offer concrete advice for improvement.
It is crucial that your organization is aligned on ethics at all levels – you may not see
results from just changing one or two processes. If you want to run a great organization
that employees are proud to work for, and that customers buy from with high trust, then
you should consider making an all-out commitment to ethics. You should consider
doing ethical systems design.

The White Paper can be downloaded here.