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

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 14, 2013 - Business & Economics - 246 pages
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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.

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The role of mental models in social construction 1
Obedience disobedience
of ethical context
and action
Managing ethical obstacles
Some applications
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About the author (2013)

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 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 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).

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