The social environment of business is complex and involves actors with different motivations. In this context, ethical concerns play a critical role. Political activists, consumers and employees frequently are motivated by moral concerns. Firms must be able to anticipate these concerns, predict their effects, and incorporate them into their overall strategic planning, from communication strategies to coalition building, from industry-alliances to the development of organizational solutions and corporate structures.
Research and teaching in ethics at the Kellogg School focuses on the problem of incorporating a wide variety of value perspectives into decision-making. Such integration depends on understanding the salient and often competing values within an organization and its social environment; on understanding the ways individuals respond to moral and emotional arguments, and to more classical material incentives; and on understanding the psychological regulators and predispositions that affect behavior. The research focus is less concerned with addressing normative questions of what ought to be done in any particular instance, and more concerned with asking positive questions regarding what can be done. As such, the methodological approach is interdisciplinary, incorporating insights from social psychology, game theory and behavioral economics.
Center faculty members are engaged in various research projects, including the following:
Decision Making with Ethically Motivated Agents
Many political and social actors are motivated by ethical concerns. Two projects at the Center investigate aspects of this topic. In the first project, Professors Alvaro Sandroni and Timothy J. Feddersen analyze the consequences of assuming that voters in large elections are motivated by ethical concerns for models of participation and voting in large elections. In the second project, Professor Daniel Diermeier conducts laboratory experiments in majoritarian bargaining to study the importance of ethical norms in multi-person decision experiments.
For further information on the voting project, please contact Professor Alvaro Sandroni.
Leadership Lessons from Antarctica
In the 2001-02 academic year, Professor David Messick was on leave at the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto, Calif. During this time, he read widely about the exploration of Antarctica in the early 1900s. In particular, he studied the expeditions of Ernest Shackleton (on the Endurance expedition) and the race between Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen that began in 1910. The goal of this work was to gain insights into the leadership qualities of successful explorers that differentiated them from less successful ones. The Scott-Amundsen competition is particularly useful in this regard.