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Max Bazerman: Complicit


Max Bazerman

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Kelly connects with legendary Harvard professor Max Bazerman to talk about his new book: “Complicit: How We Enable the Unethical and How to Stop.”

How did the study of ethics end up becoming core curriculum in business school programs?

“I think that for too long business schools avoided the topic of ethics, and then a firm called Enron collapsed in 2001 and Arthur Anderson played an important role in allowing Enron to collapse. And the world said to business schools: ‘What are you going to do about these people who you're training who obviously have problems on the ethical front?’ And the people who responded with answers were a variety of behavioral scientists who focused on the psychology of why pretty good people still do some pretty bad things on a regular basis without even being aware that they’re doing that.”

Second City actually created Real Biz Shorts – short funny videos – to get people to remember ethics and compliance issues.

“That sounds just terrific. I think that we need ways to convey the importance of ethics and ways that people will remember, not five minutes later, but a week or a month or a year later, when they're actually confronted with an ethical crisis. So, identifying ways to make the messages more salient, and to truly get people's attention is important work.”

We talk a lot in our work about collaboration – in a very pro-social, postive way. But you talk about the other side of collaboration.

"Yeah. So, obviously, I'm not against collaboration. I collaborate with lots of wonderful people. I'm not using the term collaborate in this general use, but closer to collaborators in the way we think about Nazi collaborators. People who were willing to make tradeoffs, not necessarily because they shared the vision of the of the core evil doer, but because they were willing to make tradeoffs in order to get what they wanted. So, Mitch Mcconnell and Lindsey Graham may not be white supremacists, and they might not believe in an authoritarian government, but they were willing to empower Donald Trump in order to help get the selections to the Supreme Court that they wanted. So, I think of collaborators, not as true partners who share the vision of the evil doer, but people who are willing to make trades.” ‍

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