Three Groups of Traps That Contribute to Unethical Behavior by Managers

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Three Groups of Traps That Contribute to Unethical Behavior by Managers
Anneke Zwart, Student (University), Netherlands

Hoyk en Hersey (2010) argue that ethical behavior of people – specifically focusing on management level employees - is influenced by three risk factors. These risk factors are called “traps”, which ensnare individuals onto a path of behaving in an unethical way. The traps can be categorized into three major groups of traps:
1. Primary Traps: The traps in this category are mostly external pressures that seduce individuals to abandon ethical principles. In this way, individuals are orientated onto a path of unethical behavior.
2. Defensive Traps: This category includes the reactive pressures such as guilt or embarrassment, that force individuals to behave unethically.
3. Personality Traps: Internal stimuli that increase the probability to behave in an unethical way. The traps in this category blind individuals to the negative consequences their unethical behavior has; in this way the likelihood of behaving unethically increases.
Hoyk and Hersey think that making a list of the different types of traps can help individuals to recognize the influential pressures that lead to unethical behavior. In this way, individuals are better able to avoid the traps and to avoid unethical behavior.
- Hoyk, R. and Hersey, P. (2010) “The Ethical Executive: Becoming Aware of the Root Causes of Unethical Behavior: 45 Psychological Traps that Every One of Us Falls Prey to” Stanford University Press.
- McDonald, R.A. (2014) “The Ethical Executive: Avoiding the Traps of the Unethical Workplace, a Review” Leadership & Organization Development Journal Vol 35 Iss.5 pp.8-8

Traps Causing Unethical Behavior
Monty S. Padmanagara, Consultant, Indonesia
Ethical behavior should be practiced by all entities in life, in organizations, by everybody concerned, especially by leaders, in any position, at anytime.
Perhaps there should be a tough sanction and fierce enforcement to implement this consistently.

Ethical Descent May Be a Process!
Ray Chatwin, Lecturer, United Kingdom
Thanks, Anneke for such an interesting and useful post and also to Monty for his reaction. There's certainly a case for enforcement, yet this is becoming increasingly difficult thanks to corporate globalization and increasingly smart lawyers.
I suggest that the undermining of ethical standards can be a process rather than an event, however.
For example, those company privileges which develop a sense of entitlement and personal worth which can get out of control.
In addition, I suggest that ethical issues are often not clear cut but ambiguous, problematic and complex. It's a vital issue but not one that can be dealt with as a simple company checklist.



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