Business ethics have certainly been in the spotlight over the last couple of years – with scandals involving Libor-fixing, failing to prevent money laundering, and breaking the rules around defaulted mortgages to name a few. Recently major organizations have been lumped with hefty fines for questionable moral practices. Are dubious morals inevitable for successful business?
In his recent paper on ethical reasoning, eminent psychologist Robert Sternberg suggests that organizations suffer from ethical drift – a gradual, unconscious lowering of moral standards. While businesses compete for profit, the boundaries between right and wrong become blurred and people’s ethical frame of reference shifts.