Building an Ethically Strong Organization


Recorded January 14, 2019

The media is replete with examples of unethical corporate behavior that has caused many to question the values and ethics that underpin the decision making of corporate elites. In their recently published paper in MIT Sloan Management Review, Professor Catherine Bailey and Associate Professor Amanda Shantz question why these scandals continue, despite the clear moral and financial imperatives for ethical action. And perhaps more importantly, they investigate what can be done to change matters. Drawing on in-depth research of five organizations, they found that although leadership matters in developing an ethical culture, it’s the little things that count. Indeed, what they call “micro-ethical dilemmas” challenge employees at all levels of the organization, and it is how those dilemmas are handled within an organization that dictate the ethical tone of an organization. What can organizations do to ensure that employees across all levels behave ethically? Bailey and Shantz developed the notion of creating a “strong ethical culture,” and articulate the ways in which organizational leaders can work toward cultivating an environment in which employees are motivated to “do the right thing.”

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Catherine Bailey, King's Business School, King's College London

Catherine "Katie" Bailey is Professor of Work and Employment at King's Business School, King's College London. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, and sits on the editorial board of several highly ranked peer-reviewed journals. Her research focuses on meaningful work, employee engagement and strategic human resource management and she has published a number of books and numerous articles in international journals including the Sloan Management Review, Harvard Business Review and Academy of Management Perspectives. She is much in demand as a speaker on work and employment issues.

Amanda Shantz, Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin

Amanda Shantz is an Associate Professor at Trinity Business School, Trinity College, University of Dublin. Her research interests include work engagement, human resource management, and ethics at work. She has published her work in several outlets, and regularly speaks to managers and human resources departments about her work. Amanda is also an Associate Editor of Human Relations, a Financial Times Top 50 Management journal.

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