Study: Execs blinded by bottom line

January 9, 2006

A researcher says corporations like Enron that overemphasize profits might make their leaders blind to ethical or moral issues.

Scott Reynolds, an assistant professor of business ethics in the University of Washington Business School, found that it is not always obvious when an issue has moral overtones, the business school reported.

In two separate studies, Reynolds asked senior-level managers to rate scenarios involving varying degrees of ethical violations.

Previous research has shown that when facing ethical dilemmas, individuals either focus on the ends or the means as they search for a solution.

The study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, found that end-focused people recognize ethical issues when harm is done but are much less sensitive to ethical issues that seem to only involve a violation of the means.

Means-focused people, however, recognize both harmful situations and those situations in which the means used were an ethical issue, the study said.

Reynolds speculates former Enron Corp. chief executive officer Kenneth Lay and others at the company saw no harm in what they did -- it was just doing business as usual.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Invest 3.5 percent GDP in science, technology, innovation for sustainable development, experts say

Related Stories

Social media provides a data goldmine for third parties

June 16, 2015

The history of human experiments often focuses on biomedical research and the gradual changes in acceptable practice and ethical considerations. But another class of human experiments that has had its own share of controversies ...

Protecting our rights to privacy and digital dignity

April 21, 2015

How many of us read the terms and conditions when signing up to a social media account or downloading a new app? And does agreeing to these rules offer us any real protection from big business looking to mine our data for ...

Recommended for you

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.