Using behavioral ethics to curb corruption

by Yuval Feldman
May 23, 2018

Author Note

A. For a discussion on using incentives to motivate
ethical behavior in organizations, see “Reinforcing
Ethical Decision Making Through Corporate
Culture,” by A. Y. Chen, R. B. Sawyers, and P. F.
Williams, 1997, Journal of Business Ethics, 16; the
relevant section begins on page 862.
B. Note that the “good people” scholarship is usually
different from the type of research conducted
by Philip Zimbardo on the Lucifer effect, which
is described in The Lucifer Effect: Understanding
How Good People Turn Evil, by P. Zimbardo, 2007,
New York, NY: Random House. The “good people”
research generally tries to explain how ordinary
people end up doing evil or at least engaging in
gross criminal behaviors.
C. For research suggesting that automaticity can
lead to cooperation rather than corruption, see
David G. Rand’s research paradigm on this topic,
as is described in the article “Social Context and
the Dynamics of Cooperative Choice,” by D. G.
Rand, G. E. Newman, and O. M. Wurzbacher,
2015, Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 28,
159–166. This argument was also recently summarized
in a meta-analysis suggesting that peoples’
intuition is actually more likely to lead them to
be cooperative: “Cooperation, Fast and Slow:
Meta-Analytic Evidence for a Theory of Social
Heuristics and Self-Interested Deliberation,” by D.
G. Rand, 2016, Psychological Science, 27, 1192–
1206 (
D. Analogous to rationales used in the corporate
setting, the rationales (for example, “It’s a new era”)
that illegal downloaders of copyrighted files use to
justify their behavior, as well as the tactics used
by both copyright holders and regulators to fight
these types of rationales, are reviewed in “The Law
and Norms of File Sharing,” by Y. Feldman and J.
Nadler, 2006, San Diego Law Review, 43, 577–618.
E. For a review of algorithms used by different
corporations to detect employees’ unethical
behavior when it happens rather than relying
on ex post facto punishment, see “The Ethics of
Intracorporate Behavioral Ethics,” by T. Haugh,
2017, California Law Review Online, 8, https://doi.
F. For an approach that tries to separate deterrence
and moral reminders, see “The Expressive Function
of Trade Secret Law: Legality, Cost, Intrinsic
Motivation, and Consensus,” by Y. Feldman, 2009,
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 6, 177–212,
and “Deterrence and Moral Persuasion Effects
on Corporate Tax Compliance: Findings From a
Randomized Controlled Trial,” by B. Ariel, 2012,
Criminology, 50, 27–69. For a look at the effects of
small punishments, see “The Effect of Unpleasant
Experiences on Evaluation and Behavior,” by A.
Schurr, D. Rodensky, and I. Erev, 2014, Journal of
Economic Behavior & Organization, 106, 1–9.

Author Affiliation

Feldman: Bar-Ilan University, Israel. Corresponding author’s e-mail: [email protected]


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