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Obstacles to Ethical Decision-Making
Mental Models, Milgram and the Problem of Obedience

$44.99 (C)

  • Date Published: June 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107442054

$ 44.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • In commerce, many moral failures are due to narrow mindsets that preclude taking into account the moral dimensions of a decision or action. In turn, sometimes these mindsets are caused by failing to question managerial decisions from a moral point of view, because of a perceived authority of management. In the 1960s, Stanley Milgram conducted controversial experiments to investigate just how far obedience to an authority figure could subvert his subjects' moral beliefs. In this thought-provoking work, the authors examine the prevalence of narrow mental models and the phenomenon of obedience to an authority to analyse and understand the challenges which business professionals encounter in making ethical decisions. Obstacles to Ethical Decision-Making proposes processes – including collaborative input and critique – by which individuals may reduce or overcome these challenges. It provides decision-makers at all levels in an organisation with the means to place ethical considerations at the heart of managerial decision-making.

    • Explains the various obstacles to ethical managerial decision-making
    • Presents clear explanations of the key concepts underlying the issues, including social construction and mental models
    • Provides suggestions for how ethical considerations can be centrally placed in decision-making
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “The authors do a wonderful job of connecting the problem of obedience to the merging field of behavioral ethics. Their articulation highlights how common aspects about how humans make decisions lead us to be obedient when a more reflective analysis dictates action. Managers and scholars will be prompted to more courageous acts of disobedience after reading this book.” - Max H. Bazerman, Straus Professor, Harvard Business School

    “Whether you are a moral philosopher looking for a survey of relevant psychological science, a psychologist seeking deeper moral philosophical foundations, or a practitioner interested in what causes good people to make bad moral decisions, you have something to learn in these pages. Behavioral ethics is among the most important trend in business ethics today and this book is the single best resource available for in-depth coverage of the psychology, philosophy and practicality of this emerging field.” - Robert Phillips, Associate Professor, Robins School of Business, University of Richmond

    "Combining research with practical examples, Obstacles to Ethical Decision-Making does an excellent job of bringing to light the important role that unreflective obedience plays in unethical decision making. At least as important, by identifying mechanisms to increase the rigor of our ethical reflection, it provides a path toward a more ethical future". - Professor Ann Tenbrunsel, University of Notre Dame

    “This book illustrates with case after case a vital message that should (and eventually will) become a central theme in business ethics and in leadership development programs globally. The message is that decision makers are too often imprisoned by their mindsets or “mental models” – and that moral imagination represents their release. Contrary to popular opinion, conscience is far less about compliance and far more about emancipation. Both scholars and practitioners will find in these pages great insight into the moral failures – as well as the moral opportunities – of modern business life.” - Kenneth E. Goodpaster, Koch Endowed Chair in Business Ethics, Opus College of Business, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota

    “This book takes a bold leap from the traditional normative critiques of business ethics to address the perplexing interaction of ethics and mental framing. The authors are multi-talented and draw on the latest research in moral decision-making to meticulously reconstruct the origins of our moral knowledge base. The book’s insights into classic business ethics examples invites ethicists and practitioners to escape the confines of their own epistemological boundaries to effect the breakthrough that the authors call “moral imagination”.” - Laura Nash, PH.D., co-author of Just Enough. Tools for Creating Success in Work and Life, former Senior Lecturer, Harvard Business School

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107442054
    • length: 260 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.35kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. The role of mental models in social construction
    3. The Milgram studies: obedience, disobedience, and ethical challenges
    4. Obstacles to ethical decision-making in the perception of ethical context
    5. Obstacles to ethical decision-making in impact analysis and action
    6. Managing ethical obstacles
    7. Problematic mental models: some applications
    8. Conclusion
    Author index
    Subject index.

  • Authors

    Patricia H. Werhane, DePaul University, Chicago
    Patricia H. Werhane is the Callista Wicklander Chair of Business Ethics and Director, Institute for Business and Professional Ethics at DePaul University. She is also Professor Emeritus at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. Her previous publications include Ethical Issues in Business, 7th edition (edited with Tom Donaldson and Margaret Cording, 2001).

    Laura Pincus Hartman, DePaul University, Chicago
    Laura Pincus Hartman is Vincent de Paul Professor of Business Ethics at DePaul University's College of Commerce. She serves as Research Director of DePaul's Institute for Business and Professional Ethics. Her recent publications include Alleviating Poverty Through Profitable Partnerships (with Patricia H. Werhane, Scott Kelley and Dennis Moberg, 2009).

    Crina Archer
    Crina Archer is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Northwestern University, and a Senior Research Fellow to Vincent de Paul Professor Laura Hartman, and senior scholar with the Institute for Business and Professional Ethics, at DePaul University. She is the co-editor of Second Nature: Rethinking the Natural Through Politics (2013).

    Elaine E. Englehardt, Utah Valley State College
    Elaine E. Englehardt is Distinguished Professor at Utah Valley University. Specializing in practical and professional ethics, she has authored and/or edited eight books.

    Michael S. Pritchard, Western Michigan University
    Michael S. Pritchard is the Willard A. Brown Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society at Western Michigan University. His previous publications include Professional Integrity (2007) and The Ethical Challenges of Academic Administration (with Elaine Englehardt, Kerry Romesberg and Brian Schrag, 2010).

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