Values-Based Leadership

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, Former Professor Daniel Diermeier conducted laboratory experiments in majoritarian bargaining to study the importance of ethical norms in multi-person decision experiments.