291 The Causes of Organizational Wrongdoing

“The Causes of Organizational Wrongdoing” is motivated by the implicit contradiction between two personal observations. My experience suggests that the overwhelming majority of managers (and management students) aspire to manage in ethical, socially responsible, and law-abiding ways and embrace socially acceptable ideas about the difference between right and wrong. But media reports and academic studies suggest that unethical, socially irresponsible, and illegal behavior is common in organizations.

This raises the question, “why do otherwise ethical, socially responsible, and law-abiding people become involved in wrongful courses of action. This course will attempt to answer this question by examining classic and recent theories about why people cross the line between right and wrong, focusing more specifically on research that has been conducted on wrongdoing in and of organizations. The hope is that if we can develop a good understanding of organizational wrongdoing, we can reduce the chance that we, those we manage, and those who manage us will engage in wrongful behavior.