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Leading Integrity

69653_wbs_behavioural_science_report_digital.jpgHonesty, trust, transparency, and mutual respect are hallmarks of excellent organisations; and strengthening such organisational integrity is typically a key aim of leaders and other employees, as well as, increasingly, being demanded by the media and the public. Yet a succession of high-profile scandals, ranging from safety failures, corruption, and false accounting to sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination, continue to plague business, charities and the public sector. It is easy to blame individual “bad apples” for problems with organisational integrity. But, more often than not, the incentives, culture and structure in an organisation may be the real culprits.

Warwick Business School’s project, Leading Integrity aims to kick-start discussions of these issues. We commissioned a number of briefing papers exploring key ethical issues facing contemporary organisations, a more detailed case study, and a large-scale survey exploring ethical behaviours in the workplace. The project culminated in an academic conference, and workshops with practitioners and policy-makers on key ethical challenges for organisations today, both held at the WBS campus at the Shard in central London. The report (click the cover image to download) outlines and summarises the results of the project. Our aim is not to present a set of conclusions, but rather to help set an agenda, stimulating future research, collaboration and above all practical action.

For more information, please contact Edward Gardiner (

Conference presentations

As part of this project, we organised an academic conference on 2 and 3 July 2018 at the WBS campus at the Shard in central London. The theme was organisational ethics, i.e. ethics in the context of being part of an organisation (with roles, responsibilities and stakeholders), rather than viewing ethical problems as facing a lone decision maker choosing between possible states of the world. Below are videos of each of the academic talks.

Dr Natalie Gold: Trustworthy behaviour in banking: Incentives and structure
Dr Sydney Levine: The cognitive mechanisms of contractualist moral decision-making
Dr Max Kleinman-Weiner: Moral learning: Evolutionary, developmental, and in-the-moment
Dr Hossam Zeitoun and Dr Tigran Melkonyan: Organisational ethics and virtual agreements
Prof David Lagnado: Assigning cause and blame
Prof Marianna Fotaki: Whistle blowers counteracting corruption: why speaking up matters?
Dr Manos Gkeredakis: Organisations as creators of moral complexity
Prof Ulrike Hahn: Trust and institutions
Prof Franz Dietrich: Learning what to do: A reason-based approach
Prof John Broome: A Philosopher at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Prof Richard Holton: Does legal obligation reduce to moral obligation, and does it matter if it doesn’t?

Practitioner workshops

Following on from the academic conference, we organised a day of practitioner workshops on 4 July 2018 at the WBS campus at the Shard in central London. The aim was to coordinate future research and action around the challenges related to improving organisational integrity. The attendees included representatives from healthcare, finance, regulation, think tanks, ethical consulting, technology and academia. There were four workshops, each focusing on a different topic:

  1. Culture: What are the components of an organisational culture that positively supports ethical behaviour?
  2. Justifying inappropriate acts: What motivates unethical behaviour and what justifications do people use?
  3. Technology: How is technology hindering or helping to support ethical behaviour in organisations?
  4. Transparency: How can we balance publicity and privacy in highlighting and addressing unethical behaviours?

Below is a visual summary of each workshop.

Culture Justifying inappropriate acts Technology Transparency