Kidder on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report

Rushworth Kidder, founder of the Institute for Global Ethics and author of multiple books on ethical decision making including How Good People Make Tough Choices, wrote a short commentary on the recently-issued Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report. Why must business schools, in particular, add rigorous ethics courses to their curriculum?  Because “an unethical culture — a ‘pervasive permissiveness,’ in the report’s words — played a key role in this crisis. Through an ‘erosion of responsibility and ethics,’ standards were relaxed, rules were circumvented, and long-term stability was sacrificed for short-term gain.”  Not astonishing conclusions, but changing that culture requires, first, that those who shape it recognize the need for change.

7 thoughts on “Kidder on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report”

  1. I think the key problem is that companies are not ethically aligning their values to that of their employees. Employees don't see the underlying "good value" that their work brings, and are now being by the ego which comes along with their incentive packages. It's an era where jobs are easily switched, and company employee retention rare.

    Money is good when it deals with all the things so you don't have to worry about it. Too much money, however, can cause one to think of power, statuses, and how to spend the money "right (depending on the social circumstance)" – when truly more effort can be spent on doing your job well. (Ironically, reward them more and they start performing less).

    Do it right, without bending the rules for greedy, unethical gains. There should be no reason to when you truly know where the value of your work is, and how it makes the world a better place.

    Do incentives align with a company mission that meets what we're looking for more and more – the triple bottomline?
    If they do, we'll all be better off that way.

  2. One of my professors mentioned the other day that SMG at BU is one of the only top school's in the country that doesn't offer a course on ethics. I think it's unfortunate, and I firmly believe that the school should offer a required course. It's important to encourage students, especially business students, to start thinking ethically. To teach them what ethical decision making is all about, and how decisions that individuals make impact not only themselves, but there's a chain of others who could be impacted.

    The class would really just compel students to ask themselves how x impacts y. If the course were to allow students to analyze different cases, and sort of talk about what they would do in the situation… then that'd be really cool. Students would have the opportunity to really confront their beliefs. If someone would go about handling a difficult ethical dilemma in a different way than I would approach it, it would be cool to know what he/she would say. Would it impact my own opinion, my approach?

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