The Ethical Executive: Becoming Aware of the Root Causes of Unethical Behavior: 45 Psychological Traps That Every One of Us Falls Prey To

By Robert Hoyk; Paul Hersey | Go to book overview

TRAP 13 :
“DON’T MAKE WAVES”

“DON’T MAKE WAVES” or “don’t rock the boat” are common aphorisms. Established norms can also enforce the pressure to conform.

William Whyte, in his book The Organization Man, writes about GE’s basic training school in the 1930s: “Students spend four months eagerly studying a battery of communication techniques and psychological principles which General Electric tells them will help them to be good managers. (Sample principle: ‘Never say anything controversial.’)” [Italics added.]1 Although this reference to establishing norms that reinforce conformity is quite dated, remnants of this principle are still seen in today’s corporations—especially in boardrooms.

Jay Lorsch and Elizabeth MacIver, professor and former research associate at Harvard Business School, published a study of American boards of directors in 1989. They wrote, “The norms of polite boardroom behavior discourage directors from openly questioning or challenging the CEO’s performance or proposals… ”2

The chairman of the board is often the CEO and the directors are frequently the CEO’s “friends and associates.”3 in many corporate boards, dissent is viewed as detrimental or unneeded.

The corporate culture in the boardrooms of Enron and Tyco “discouraged debate and disagreement instead of cultivating it.” Directors repeatedly yielded to company executives without disputing them.

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The Ethical Executive: Becoming Aware of the Root Causes of Unethical Behavior: 45 Psychological Traps That Every One of Us Falls Prey To
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • The Ethical Executive xv
  • Trapped! 1
  • Why Do Traps Exist, and What Are They? 6
  • Why This Isn’t Just Another Business Ethics Book 8
  • A Word about Research 13
  • Part I - Primary Traps 15
  • Trap 1 - Obedience to Authority 17
  • Trap 2 - Small Steps 21
  • Sidesteppingr Esponsibility 23
  • Trap 6 - Competition 27
  • Self-Interest 31
  • Trap 10 - Conflicts of Loyalty 37
  • Trap 11 39
  • Trap 12 - Conformity Pressure 43
  • Trap 13 - "Don’t Make Waves" 44
  • Trap 14 - Self-Enhancement 46
  • Trap 15 - Time Pressure 48
  • Trap 16 - Decision Schemas 51
  • Trap 17 - Enacting a Role 53
  • Trap 18 - Power 55
  • Trap 19 - Justification 57
  • Trap 20 - Obligation 60
  • Part II - Defensive Traps 61
  • Annihilation of Guilt 63
  • Minimizing 68
  • Trap 33 - Addiction 75
  • Trap 34 - Coworker Reactions 77
  • Trap 35 - Established Impressions 79
  • Trap 36 - Contempt for the Victim 82
  • Trap 37 - Doing Is Believing 85
  • Part III - Personality Traps 87
  • Trap 38 - Psychopathy 89
  • Traps 39 and 40 - Poverty and Neglect 92
  • Trap 41 - Low Self-Esteem 94
  • Trap 42 - Authoritarianism 95
  • Trap 43 - Social Dominance Orientation 96
  • Trap 44 - Need for Closure 98
  • Trap 45 - Empathy 100
  • Part IV - Analyzing Dilemmas 103
  • The Parable of the Sadhu 105
  • Jonestown 109
  • Final Words 117
  • Notes 119
  • Index 131
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