Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What's Right and What to Do about It
Max H. Bazerman
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
When confronted with an ethical dilemma, most of us like to think we would stand up for our principles. But we are not as ethical as we think we are. In Blind Spots, leading business ethicists Max Bazerman and Ann Tenbrunsel examine the ways we overestimate our ability to do what is right and how we act unethically without meaning to. From the collapse of Enron and corruption in the tobacco industry, to sales of the defective Ford Pinto, the downfall of Bernard Madoff, and the Challenger space shuttle disaster, the authors investigate the nature of ethical failures in the business world and beyond, and illustrate how we can become more ethical, bridging the gap between who we are and who we want to be.
Explaining why traditional approaches to ethics don't work, the book considers how blind spots like ethical fading--the removal of ethics from the decision--making process--have led to tragedies and scandals such as the Challenger space shuttle disaster, steroid use in Major League Baseball, the crash in the financial markets, and the energy crisis. The authors demonstrate how ethical standards shift, how we neglect to notice and act on the unethical behavior of others, and how compliance initiatives can actually promote unethical behavior. They argue that scandals will continue to emerge unless such approaches take into account the psychology of individuals faced with ethical dilemmas. Distinguishing our "should self" (the person who knows what is correct) from our "want self" (the person who ends up making decisions), the authors point out ethical sinkholes that create questionable actions.
Suggesting innovative individual and group tactics for improving human judgment, Blind Spots shows us how to secure a place for ethics in our workplaces, institutions, and daily lives.
decision-making errors with ethically relevant consequences. As a result, people are less likely to notice others’ unethical behavior when it occurs in small increments—on a slippery slope—than when it occurs suddenly, a phenomenon that should put us on alert to slowly degrading ethical behavior. Valuing Outcomes over Processes Consider story A: A pharmaceutical researcher defines a clear protocol for determining whether or not to include clinical patients as data points in a study. He is
Dalmatian, just as our profit-focused work environments can keep us from seeing the ethical implications of our actions. As the Dalmatian picture demonstrates, we are “boundedly aware”: our perceptions and decision making are constrained in ways we don’t realize. In addition to falling prey to bounded awareness, recent research finds we are also subject to bounded ethicality, or systematic constraints on our morality that favor our own self-interest at the expense of the interest of others. As
which requires corporations and the auditors that serve them to disclose their conflicts of interest, has been heralded as a means of achieving the goal of transparency and making companies more honest. Most people like the idea of requiring greater openness while still allowing professionals to act as they see fit. The well-intentioned focus on disclosure is based on the assumption that the public will benefit from increased information about an adviser’s conflict of interest. Unfortunately,
Deloitte & Touche partner Robert Garland demanded the SEC provide evidence of past instances of audit fraud caused by auditing firms’ consulting business. “Given what is at stake,” Garland testified, “and the fact that there is no demonstrated problem, it would be irresponsible to take on the considerable risks surrounding the proposed rule.”26 According to Strange, “Nonaudit services improve audit effectiveness.”27 “In our opinion, we do think [the proposal] will harm audit quality,” said
Defaults In Chapter 1, we referred to Johnson and Goldstein’s cross-European organ donation study, which revealed that policy defaults are a tremendous factor in people’s decisions. Specifically, countries that have opt-in organ donation policies, where the default is not to harvest people’s organs without their prior consent, sacrifice thousands of lives in comparison to opt-out policies, where the default is organ harvesting. As you will recall, countries with opt-in policies had donor