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

TRAPPED!

IN THE WINTER OF 2001, Enron, the seventh largest company in the Fortune 500, went bankrupt. It was the second largest bankruptcy in the history of the United States. The Justice Department began an investigation after Enron admitted to fraudulent accounting that had overstated its income by $586 million. With the meltdown of the company, the loss to investors exceeded $60 billion.1

In the spring of 2002, Adelphia communications, one of the largest cable companies in America, filed bankruptcy after restating its profits. The founder of the company, John Rigas, and his three sons had already been indicted. It was alleged that the Rigas family had used assets of their company as collateral to acquire personal loans of $3.1 billion.2 Recently, John Rigas was sentenced to fifteen years in prison, and his son timothy Rigas was sentenced to twenty years in prison. They were convicted on charges of looting company funds to the tune of $2.3 billion.3

In the summer of 2002, the CEO of Tyco international, Dennis Kozlowski, was indicted for evading sales tax totaling $1 million. After continued investigations by the district attorney, Kozlowski and two other executives were accused of siphoning off $600 million of company money into their own pockets.4

Both Kozlowski and Mark Swartz, CFO of Tyco, received prison sentences of eight to twenty-five years for looting $150 million in company funds.5

-1-

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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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