When the policies of a company are at odd with workers’ rights and dignity, a change in behavioral pattern becomes obvious and problematic.
The book by Muel Kaptein is segmented into 52 short chapters with each to be read individually, but complementing with one another. The first eight chapters lay the foundation for examining the behavior of organizations and individuals.
This introductory section discusses issues such as people’s moral, nature and effect of the environment on their behavior. The remaining chapters are structured on the basis of the seven factors influencing people’s behavior within organizations. Some examples are;
Muel Kaptein begins his exposition with an interesting quote: ‘We must stop seeing the people behind the counter as criminals.’ These are not the words of a prison director or police chief. They are the words of a chairman of a big bank, and at a significant moment too: at the low point of the financial crisis in 2009.
What he meant was: “It’s time we started trusting our employees and clients”. It is likely the chairman of the bank had done his research on the statistics of integrity: 10% of people will always cheat. 10% of people will never cheat. 80% of people are inherently good but will cheat or not depending on the situation.
We know that the large majority of people are inherently honest. This leads us to a more important question on integrity such as inquiring the point they lose their integrity. For most of us, there tends to be a price at which we can be bought. An organization with an effective approach to integrity knows this and will carefully steer away its employees by creating conditions under which this price is very high.
The book ‘Why good people sometimes do bad things? – 52 reflections on ethics at work’, is written by Muel Kaptein, Partner at the KPMG network in the Netherlands and Professor in business ethics. You can download a free electronic copy of this publication (in English)