The Slippery Slope in Business Ethics

Tempted to take an extra shampoo bottle from your hotel room? Or to say you’ve got a bad headache so you can leave work early to get ready for a big date? Be careful. What may seem like a small ethical transgression now could lead to much bigger problems in the future. At least that’s the result of a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Researchers trying to understand big corporate scandals found that when a small ethical sin goes unchecked, bigger sins are much more likely to follow.
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Taxes: Your Annual Ethics Test

Many ethical dilemmas land on our doorstep when we least expect them, but there’s one that arrives with dogged regularity—the annual income tax return.

While there are thousands of strict regulations and rules, and many checks and balances, a lot depends on our own integrity. With the Internal Revenue Service able to audit so few returns, the tax code becomes dependent to a surprising degree on the honor system, and that can lead to strong temptations to cheat.
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‘Cheater’s High’ Can Trump Guilt

Want to know the best way to prevent people from cheating? Don’t try too hard to stop them.

A new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that the worst thing an employer, a teacher, or a business can do is to set up an elaborate system to catch cheaters. People will inevitably rise to the challenge – not because they need the financial benefit of cheating but because they enjoy the high of beating the system. Take the challenge away and a lot of the cheating will vanish on its own.
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Ethics Quiz: Fudging an Application

Ethical dilemmas aren’t limited to big issues of life and death, corruption, or serious cheating. They come at us in all kinds of ways, large and small, with surprising frequency. This week, we’ll look at five relatively common “everyday ethics” problems, presenting one each day. Think them over, decide what you believe is the best course of action, and then compare your views with mine by clicking on the link below the poll. Be sure to comment if you disagree. Here’s today’s problem:
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Long Overdue: A Sports Code of Ethics

I’ve been struggling with some ethical inconsistencies in the world of sports. Maybe you can help me think them through. Consider the following:

In golf, the honor code rules. Players routinely assess their own penalties if they accidentally move a ball or otherwise violate a rule. This doesn’t seem to happen in any other sport. Try to imagine a first baseman turning around to a baseball umpire after an “out” call and saying, “No, actually my foot slipped off the bag and he’s safe.” (No, I can’t imagine it, either.)
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