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Ethics on the Edge Blog: Uber and Blended Regulatory Models

Uber awaits the results of the pending case in the European Court of Justice (ECJ)—a case that could have a significant impact on its ability to operate in Europe in accordance with its “we’re just a platform” business model. The Uber case will likely influence other cases, from Airbnb to Electrolux’s reflections on an Uber-like washing machine service to driverless car fleets. (more…)

Arbitrary Ethics

One of the biggest obstacles to ethics is arbitrariness. All kinds of behavior – both unethical and ethical – can lead to arbitrary ethics consequences. Conversely, arbitrariness in ethics oversight almost always generates unethical behavior. Let’s take a common example in organizations of all sectors and sizes: leaving enforcement of ethical guidelines up to the immediate boss in a hierarchical structure. One employee’s particularly punitive boss may deliver a career-damaging punishment. Another boss may not even read the e-mails signalling more serious unethical behavior leaving her direct report to carry on with impunity. Both occur within the same organization with...

Untangling the Confusion Over Organizational Ethics

This article was first published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review (Summer 2013).  A wave of ethics transgressions underlines the importance of comprehensive ethics oversight for organizational success. Last year, 2012, was in many regards a step forward for proponents of ethical action. Roger Gifford, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, one of the world’s financial capitals, declared business ethics a priority and critical to the City’s economic success. François Hollande published a Code of Ethics within 11 days of becoming president of France. And the new Chinese premier, Xi Jinping, highlighted the ongoing danger of corruption to economic and social development as a central part...

Missing the Point: Lessons From Novartis: Shareholders Win the Compensation Revolt but Lose the Ethics Revolution

The actions and commentary surrounding the recent shareholder revolt over the proposed $78 million payment to departing Novartis Chairman Daniel Vasella offer a range of ethics and governance lessons. These are critical across all sectors from corporate to non-profit to governmental. My purpose is never to attack an individual leader, an organization, or commentators. My intent here is learning, especially as it seems inconceivable that this kind of situation could continue to occur following the relentless say on pay and other ethics events of 2012. (more…)

Lance Armstrong Part II: “Winning at All Costs”: Organizational Doping or Strategically Integrated Unethical Behavior

Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey this week reinforced his driving objective of “win at all costs”. However, the question that Oprah never directly asked during her provocative discussion was whether he ever thought he had really won when accepting the trophies after so intentionally and consistently cheating. There was not a single Tour de France race that he actually won clean. (more…)

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