About this Course
4.8
174 ratings
67 reviews
This course 'Unethical decision making in organizations : A seminar on the dark side of the force' will teach you how strong organizational contexts push good people towards unethical decisions. You will also learn how to protect yourself and your organization against such forces lurking in the dark. About the Course This course teaches how narrow frames and strong contexts can push good people towards unethical decisions and how they can protect themselves and their organization against ethical blindness. The goal of this course is to empower the participants to analyze the risks of unethical or illegal behavior that might be triggered by powerful contexts. It draws from various disciplines such as management, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and literature, in order to learn what these disciplines contribute to a better understanding of unethical behavior. The course also analyzes some of the most prominent organizational scandals of the recent decades through the lenses of these disciplines. Whenever we hear about ethical scandals, we tend to believe that unethical or illegal behaviour in organizations is driven by character deficiencies of individual actors. Put differently, we simply assume that bad things are done by bad people. However, numerous corporate scandals have demonstrated that even people with a high level of integrity can break the rules if they are put into a strong context. A better understanding of why and under what conditions good people make bad ethical decisions will enable us to better protect individuals as well as their respective organizations against the potentially overwhelming power of the context. It will also enable us to cure societies from problems like corruption. At the end of the course, you are able to: 1. Explain the impact of social context on individual decision making using various theories (from Management, Sociology, Psychology, and Philosophy) 2. Apply these theories to the analysis of some of the most eminent organizational scandals of the recent decades 3. Assess risks of ethical blindness in your own organizational context 4. Design interventions to reduce such risks for yourself and your organization Recommended Background No background expertise is required. The course is open for interested layperson as well as experts who work on related topics, be it as researchers or practitioners (e.g., compliance managers in corporations). Why is this course important for me? Currently, the understanding of why good people make unethical decisions is rather limited, related research is rather fragmented, and the management of such problems in organizations is overly simplistic, legalistic, and inadequate. Understanding contexts, including the dangers of routines, the mindlessness of our daily decisions, and the healing power of mindful decision-making routines is of increasing importance. In this course, you will learn the latest knowledge and the appropriate tool box for dealing with ethical challenges that you will face throughout your life! What do I need to follow this course? We build bridges between various scientific disciplines and will familiarize you with those disciplines smoothly. You need no expertise, just come and share your own real-world experiences about unethical decisions. After all, we are all experts in making decisions—some more ethically, some less ethically—aren’t we?...
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Calendar

Flexible deadlines

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Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Suggested: 7 weeks of study, 3-5 hours/week

Approx. 14 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, German

Skills you will gain

MindfulnessDecision-MakingUtilityPsychology
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Suggested: 7 weeks of study, 3-5 hours/week

Approx. 14 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, German

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
5 hours to complete

Week 1- Ethical and unethical decision making

Have you ever asked yourself the following questions ? Why do human beings act in an illegal and unethical way? Why and under what conditions do we become evil? What motivates harm doing and what is the explanatory power of human nature and human culture? What is the evil anyway? And why is this relevant for us in our daily life? The first week will give you an introduction to the historic evolution of our modern understanding of evil, looking at how evil has been discussed in different times and cultural contexts. Furthermore, in this first week, we will discuss how you can deal with situation in which you have to make ethical decisions and how the theories of philosophers such as Immanuel Kant provide us a tool box for such situations....
Reading
3 videos (Total 30 min), 10 readings, 2 quizzes
Video3 videos
1.2 - A little history of Evil 10m
1.3 - Dilemma - How to make ethical decisions13m
Reading10 readings
Syllabus and Grading policies5m
Discussion forum guidelines5m
Our stance on Plagiarism5m
Instructors5m
Development team5m
Getting started : Meet and Greet !30m
Learning Outcomes and Assignments10m
Suggested discussions30m
Additional readings5m
To read before starting Ethical Dilemma assignment5m
Quiz2 practice exercises
Quiz 1m
Ethical dilemma assignmentm

2

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Week 2- Introduction to unethical decisions in organizations

In this week, we will first reflect upon the wisdom of a famous fairy tale in order to understand the power contexts have on individuals. Subsequently, we will zoom into one of the most famous corporate scandals, the Ford Pinto case which demonstrates the power of context over decisions similar to the fairy tale. Finally, we will present our model of ethical blindness, which not only provides a conceptual framework to better understand these two cases, but also builds the backbone of the whole course. ...
Reading
5 videos (Total 51 min), 2 readings
Video5 videos
2.2 - The Emperor's new clothes II12m
2.3 - The story of the Ford Pinto 16m
2.4 - The concept of ethical blindness I9m
2.5 - The concept of ethical blindness II6m
Reading2 readings
Learning Outcomes5m
Additional readings5m

3

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Week 3- The power of frames: How people construct their reality

In this third week, we will examine how framing can contribute to unethical decision making. After having introduced you to the concept of framing in general, we will use it to interpret the Enron scandal. We will then discuss the recent Lehman Brothers collapse along one particular element of framing – the language we use in organizations. Building on this case, we will finally go deeper into the link between decision making and language and discuss how language influences what we can see and how we decide. ...
Reading
4 videos (Total 55 min), 3 readings, 1 quiz
Video4 videos
3.2 - The Enron Story 16m
3.3 - Lehman Brothers and the Power of Language 10m
3.4 - The Power of Langage14m
Reading3 readings
Learning Outcomes and assignment5m
Suggested discussions30m
Additional readings5m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Quiz Week 3m

4

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Week 4- The power of routines

In this week, we will first look at how people and organizations (can) simplify information processing and decision making, namely by using heuristics and by establishing routines. Subsequently, we will examine key driving forces of ethical blindness in organizations and finally demonstrate the risk associated with powerful routines in a case study on innovations in a military context....
Reading
5 videos (Total 62 min), 3 readings, 1 quiz
Video5 videos
4.1.bis - Simple Heuristics Part II15m
4.2 - Organizing for Ethical Blindness Part I 11m
4.3 - Organizing for Ethical Blindness Part II 8m
4.4 - Gunfire at Sea - When Habits are Stronger Than Reason 15m
Reading3 readings
Learning Outcomes and Assignment5m
Suggested discussions30m
Additional readings5m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Quiz Week 4m
4.8
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course
Money

12%

got a pay increase or promotion

Top Reviews

By SPJul 30th 2017

i am faculty in an engineer college in vizag. I teach Professional ethics to the undergraduate student. Your course content is extremely useful. Thanks for provide great contents

By OMMay 7th 2017

I great course! I have learned a lot and changed my perspective of decision making in organizations and in common life. Thank you. I highly recommend it.

Instructors

Guido Palazzo

Professor of Business Ethics
Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC-Lausanne)

Ulrich Hoffrage

Professor of Decision Theory
Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC-Lausanne)

About University of Lausanne

The University of Lausanne is a Swiss state university founded in 1537. It is focused on Medicine, Life Sciences, Geosciences, Environmental Sciences, Business, Humanities, Social Sciences and Sport Sciences. UNIL is a research-intensive university which encourages interdisciplinarity. It is also renowned for its innovative teaching methods....

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

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