DCAA Compliance Blog

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Do MBA's lack Business Ethics?

Posted by Mike Anderson on Tue, May 04, 2010 @ 01:12 PM

I just read an interesting article about how MBA students/graduates are more likely to cheat than other students/graduates.  http://business.rutgers.edu/files/thehoya_mccabe_march2.pdf  Being an MBA graduate myself immediately puts me on the defensive.  But after thinking about this, I realize that there are almost as many different personalities within my group of MBA degree holders as there are in society in general.  Certainly there are all types of ethics as well and you could even expect a statistical distribution within this population (MBA degree holders) of ethical beliefs and actions.  You don't have to look too far in either direction to see examples (Goldman Sachs, AIG & Enron  on one side and Honeywell, Google & Hewlett-Packard on the other).  What disturbs me is the statistical distribution is not a normal distribution but is skewed toward the side of "cheating".  If the MBA population represents business trends in general, will this "skewed" ethics curve soon translate into trends in our general society?  Has it already?  We are seeing increases in crime in general and more hostile encounters everyday (increase in road rage and increase in anger management awareness).   How can we stop and reverse this trend?  Until we start rewarding executives for making the "right decision" rather than making the largest return, we will continue to have this issue.  Trouble is, how do we measure the "right decision"?  Easier said than done.  A subjective measure like that has as many definitions as there are people in the world.  Stronger professional organizations might also help.  Possibly having business graduates take and sign to a Hippocratic Oath like professional physicians do might help.  Bottom line, it starts with each of us individually - we all need to have our own "Hippocratic Oath" that we follow.  I have one, do you?

Topics: Ethics, government consulting, Business