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Five Steps to Strengthen Ethics in Organizations and Individuals:

Effective Strategies Informed by Research and History

Published by the Routledge Imprint of Taylor & Francis

Available in Hardcover, Kindle, Nook, eBooks, Google Books, etc.

Kenneth S. Pope, PhD, ABPP

Below are: Editorial Reviews—Description—Table of Contents & Abstracts for Each Chapter—Links to Sources for Buying the Hardcover or Digital (Kindle, Nook, ebook, etc.) Versions

Editorial Reviews:

"We expect the very best from Pope, and this must-read ethics guide delivers. Scrupulously researched, this landmark contribution will be indispensable to all organizations and individuals committed to ethical decision-making and behavior, and to courses on ethics and organizational psychology."
—Martin Drapeau, Professor of Counselling Psychology and Psychiatry, McGill University; Editor in Chief of Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne

"Ken Pope has done it again. Here is a timely, clear, well-researched, action-oriented book replete with organizational examples which is designed to get organizations and individuals to fortify their ethical stance. This book is essential reading for those studying or working in organizations."
—Judie Alpert, Professor of Applied Psychology, New York University

"Once again, Ken Pope shows courageous leadership and guides by stellar example. Using research findings and examples from well-known ethical missteps from major American organization icons, Pope shows how and why we all can strengthen ethics at work."
—Joan M. Cook, Associate Professor, Yale School of Medicine; Lecturer, Yale School of Management

"This engaging new book by Ken Pope is essential reading for everyone who believes all organizations—non-profit and for-profit—should model idealized ethical standards, top-down from the CEO and bottom-up from the kitchen and mail room staff. Honoring what is best in our human nature creates a new generation of Everyday Heroes."
—Phil Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Stanford University; Author of The Lucifer Effect; President of The Heroic Imagination Project


Five Steps to Strengthen Ethics in Organizations and Individuals draws on research and history to present effective tools to strengthen organizational ethics. Focusing on key topics such as the planning fallacy, moral disengagement, moral courage, the illusion of ethical superiority, confirmation bias, groupthink, whistleblowers, mindfulness and mindlessness, making authentic apologies, and more, this book discusses specific positive actions that get results and avoid common pitfalls. Research findings and examples from organizations—including missteps by the Veterans Administration, Penn State University, the APA, General Motors, Enron, and Wells Fargo—inform the strategies this book presents and highlight lessons in organizational ethics. Scholars, researchers, professionals, administrators, students, and others interested in organizational studies and ethics will find this unique book essential in training and practice.

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Understanding the Challenges and Seizing the Opportunities to Strengthen Ethics in Organizations and Individuals

Each of us can work at strengthening ethics in organizations. Research and history give us tools to raise our odds of success, but these tools tend to rust away unused, as the studies and examples that follow show in vivid detail. This book draws together relevant research and diverse examples that show us practical steps we can take to make a difference. This chapter notes how organizations with strong ethics differ from organizations plagued with ethical weakness, flawed decision-making, and ethical violations. It reviews findings from an array of recent studies along with examples from newspaper headlines showing both great opportunities and challenges in strengthening organizational ethics. It distinguishes between tools that have demonstrated effectiveness and tools—many of them widely used—that promise much but deliver little aside from the guise of change. These ineffective or counterproductive tools tend to fall into the following categories: Ethics Placebos, Zombie Ethics, Magic Bullets, and The Usual Suspects. They distract us from the actual causes of ethical weakness and from interventions informed by research and history that can address those causes effectively.

Chapter 2: A Remarkable Organization Runs into Trouble

A remarkable organization—one that had earned so much respect and influence since its founding in 1892, had pioneered a extraordinary new method for creating its first ethics code, had emphasized ethics throughout the organization—found itself confronting a major ethics scandal. Confronting the scandal effectively required both ethical resolve and moral courage. How the American Psychological Association (APA) addressed this scandal and dedicated itself to strengthening its ethics holds useful lessons for strengthening ethics in organizations and individuals, for steering clear of missteps, and for recovering from ethical stumbles. These lessons show us constructive steps that draw on research and history. What APA learned from the unfolding scandal led the organization to formally "apologize for this stain on our collective integrity," to "acknowledge that that these events have cast a pall on psychology and psychologists in all countries, with the potential to negatively affect perceptions of the integrity of our discipline worldwide," and to commit to taking steps "resetting our moral compass." APA's straightforward apology and commitment to change stand in sharp and positive contrast to those organizations described in Chapter 1 that denied or downplayed their responsibility and accountability.

Chapter 3: Making Codes Work

Why do so many ethics codes (a.k.a. codes of conduct, statements of values, mission statements, standards and practices, and so on) do so little good? Codes can help us strengthen ethics in organizations and individuals only if they are rooted in a context of caring within the organization and in the individuals who make up that organization. The caring context is reflected in leaders who model ethical behavior and address ethical issues; in training that focuses on the ethics code, the values it expresses, and its practical implications; in a designated person (e.g., ombudsperson), committee, or office that responds effectively to ethics questions and complaints; in people throughout the organization accepting, respecting, and embracing the code as their own code; in the presence of ethics in the day-to-day planning, decision-making, and questioning as people carry out the work of the organization; and in the way the code and its values are woven into the other aims of the organization (e.g., to make or sell products; provide services; raise awareness and support causes or candidates). This chapter reviews the research on what factors promote or undermine code effectiveness, and provides specific questions to ask in assessing and addressing codes to strengthen organizational ethics.

Chapter 4: "Your Call is Very Important to Us": Finding and Closing Gaps

Gaps plague even the best organizations. Gaps can run between the organization as it actually is and the face it paints out front for the public, between what it says and what it does, between expense reports and the amount spent (and how it was spent), between the income reported on tax forms and the money actually taken in, between the minutes of a meeting and what in fact happened at the meeting, between the documented reasons for promotions and firings and the real reasons, between heavily promoted policies of transparency and what is kept hidden, between representing products or services as safe and the actual risks, and on and on and on. A second step to strengthen ethics in an organization and the individuals who make up the organization is to look for the gaps so that they can be closed. This step often leads us through conflicting values, standards, needs, goals, influences, and perspectives. This chapter discusses both the research on and the practicalities of noticing and closing gaps.

Chapter 5: Waking the Watchdogs: Overcoming Silence and Gaining Strength from Critics, Whistleblowers, and Bearers of Bad News

People in the organization often keep their mouths shut tight—at least publicly or when speaking to those in power—about concerns that something is not quite right, headed for disaster, or already in ethical meltdown. They may believe or suspect that the organization's direction, values, culture, code, code enforcement, or practices need careful rethinking or emergency attention and yet not breathe a word of this to anyone in the organization who has power to do something about it. This chapter reviews the research on the culture of silence that plagues so many organizations, on the factors that support or prevent people from speaking up about ethical concerns and problems, on the sense of psychological safety within organizations, on what happens to whistleblowers, and on creating an organizational culture in which each person throughout the organization not only receives encouragement and support in raising ethical questions and concerns but also shoulders the personal ownership and responsibility for speaking up when there's a problem.

Chapter 6: Recognizing and Avoiding Common Stumbles over Heuristics and Other Sources of Bias

Too many sets of perfectly rational plans to strengthen ethics in organizations wander slowly or run headlong into trouble because they don't take account of one obvious but often underestimated truth: Neither the people trying to implement the plans nor other individuals who make up the organization act like purely rational beings. Unrealistic plans treat people as if they were computers programmed to reason logically and without bias and to behave following the rules of rationality. However, our minds often follow nonrational rules. This chapter discusses the most common heuristics and other human tendencies that baffle and break even the best laid plans to strengthen organizational ethics. These include, the Planning Fallacy, Optimistic Bias, the Bias of Illusory Ethical Superiority, Mindlessness, Disengagement, Confirmation Bias, Group Think, Correspondence Bias, and WYSIATI (What You See Is All There Is) Bias.

7: Finding Moral Courage and Putting It to Work

The most informed, effective steps to strengthen ethics in organizations and the people within can succeed only if we actually take the steps. Taking action requires us to leave our cocoon as passive bystanders (a.k.a. enablers) when we come across questionable or unethical behavior, especially when the safety and welfare of others is at stake. Although both research-based interventions and organizations themselves can try to help us do the right thing when confronting these challenges, we may have to push, persuade, or force ourselves to abandon the comforting insulation and safety of "it's not my problem," "someone else will take care of this," "it's probably not as bad as it looks," "I wouldn't even know where to begin," "I just don't have time for this," or "nothing I do will make a difference." This chapter discusses moral courage, its obvious and its more subtle risks, and its paradoxical effects on the organization. It also examines the special kind of moral courage required when we ourselves helped create the ethical problem, and the special challenges of making an authentic apology in contrast to the prevalent practice of issuing insincere, evasive, incomplete, or completely bogus apologies.

Where You Can Buy the Hardcover or Digital (Kindle, Nook, ebook, etc.) Versions:























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