The Rady School Blog

  • The Secret to Making Ethical Business Decisions

    March 3, 2015
    by Tricia Bertram Gallant

    As I sit down to write this piece, I am reminded of a student who had been caught cheating. Despite the evidence to the contrary, she insisted that she couldn’t have been cheating because she was a good person. In fact, she presented several letters written by the people in her life who could attest to her good character. This was, as she told us, proof that she hadn’t cheated.

    We’ve all been there. We’ve done something wrong or something so “out of character” that we need to pretend (for our own sanity) that we didn’t do it or that we did it for the right reasons. Or we tell ourselves – “what I did wasn’t unethical because I’m a good person”.

    But the truth is, even good people can do bad things.

    Consider Deborah Crowder, a low-level University of North Carolina administrator. For almost twenty years, Crowder was a lead player in a “shadow curriculum”, an institutionalized scheme to help athletes stay eligible for play by cheating. The students enrolled in a class that didn’t exist and, for credit, submitted one paper (usually poorly written or plagiarized) to which Crowder assigned the grade needed by the student in order to stay athletically eligible.

    There is no evidence that Crowder was a criminal mastermind, with a history of unethical conduct. It appears that she was simply someone who wanted to “help” – she wanted to help UNC, she wanted to help the athletes, and she wanted to help the coaches. But by “helping”, she (and others) created and perpetuated an unethical culture in the workplace, harming thousands of people and the reputation of UNC.

    So, why did Crowder do it? Why do any of us act unethically even though we think of ourselves as good people or even though the majority of the time, we act like good people?

    In their book Blind Spots, Bazerman and Tenbrunsel brilliantly illustrate how it is a lack of awareness that allows the ethical dimensions of a situation to fade from our perspective, enabling us to continue to make the decision we wanted to make in the first place. Apparently, we can actually be “blind” to the ethical situation facing us – we can be blinded by the motivation to protect ourselves from harm. We can be blinded by actions so slight that we are unable to foresee long-term impacts of the actions. We can be blinded by an outcome that seems minimal or even positive.

    The first secret, then, to acting ethically is to first admit that we are capable of acting unethically (largely because of our blind spots).

    Once we take that first step, we have opened ourselves up to actually doing the right thing, despite our blind spots and even despite the pressures and stressors of the moment.

    The impact on the stressors and pressures of the moment, especially in business, are not to be minimized. According to Mary Gentile (creator of the “Giving Voice to Values” curriculum), even those who want to do the right thing may be pushed and cajoled to do the opposite or do nothing because “it is standard practice”, the impact is “minimal”, you “owe it to the boss” or “it’s not your responsibility”.  These are the rationalizations that others may give you in order to convince you to do something that you feel, deep down, just isn’t right.

    So, what is one to do? How can we act ethically (even in business) despite these blind spots and even requests to act unethically or against your own value system?

    As Rushworth Kidder always said, you must enhance your “ethical fitness”. Ethical decision-making is a skill, just like learning science, playing basketball or negotiating a deal. It involves strategy and practice. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

    Ethical fitness is the second secret to acting ethically.

    Okay, so how do you build your ethical fitness?

    You need to find an ethical decision-making model that you like (there are many out there), learn it, adopt it as your strategy, and then practice using it over and over again. I teach my students a modified version of Kidder’s model (from his book “How Good People Make Tough Choices”) because I find it is applicable to any situation in life, whether it personal or professional. But, you may find another that suits you better. The key to a good ethical decision-making model is that it helps you: 1) recognize and identify the moral/ethical issue you’re facing, 2) see what responsibility you have for resolving it, 3) resolve the issue according to sound ethical principles, and 4) act on your decision. You can find your model by taking a class, reading books on the subject or looking to your profession or organization (many of which propose ethical decision-making models).

    It’s quite simple, then.

    The secret to acting ethically is to first admit that you are capable of acting unethically and then develop your ethical fitness. In other words, develop your strategy, and make ethical decision-making an everyday practice, a priority in your life and your profession.  This doesn’t mean just avoiding doing “wrong” (according to the law or your organization’s code of ethics). It means being conscious everyday of the ethical implications of any action you take or decision you make. It means, as Gentile would argue, that as you go about your business, making decisions and taking actions, that you see consider ethical implications as equally as important as any other (even financial or political). 

    A Key Ethical Fitness Practice

    Researchers tell us that when we’re facing ethical situations, we make rash decisions (usually to protect our own or our company’s self-interests) and then rationalize our decision. Only later do we recognize that we were facing an ethical, not a financial, business or other type of decision.

    Start building your ethical fitness by adopting Bazerman & Tenbrunsel’s key practice – with every situation you’re facing or decision you’re making, slow down and ask yourself “What are the ethical implications of this?”

    Doing this regularly can help you stay ethically fit.

    Tricia Bertram Gallant, Ph.D. is a Rady School lecturer on personal ethics at work and an Academic Integrity Office Director at UC San Diego. She is also author of Academic Integrity in the Twenty-First Century: A Teaching and Learning Imperative (Wiley’s Jossey-Bass, 2008), co-author of Cheating in School: What We Know and What We Can Do (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), and editor of Creating the Ethical Academy: A Systems Approach to Understanding Misconduct & Empowering Change in Higher Education (Routledge, 2011). 

    The Rady School of Management develops ethical and entrepreneurial leaders who make a positive impact in the world through innovation, collaboration and knowledge. Want to learn more about Rady’s MBA program? Download our eBook featuring student and alumni insights on why they chose Rady, where Rady alumni work, the top benefit for Rady students and more.

  • 2015 Rady MBA Bay Area Trek Expands In Size, Company Visits & Opportunities

    February 26, 2015
    by Aleena Karamally

    Students from the Rady School traveled to the Bay Area January 29 to 30 to tour top companies, network with Bay Area alumni and help brand the Rady School outside of San Diego during the annual Bay Area Trek program.
  • A Beginner's Guide to Understanding and Navigating Generational Differences in the Workplace

    February 24, 2015
    by Delphene Black

    In many workplaces, there are four distinctively different generations working side by side, each with their own set of values, expectations, ways of operating and preferences. It can be a difficult challenge to chart a course through these differences and achieve a harmonious, productive and successful work environment.
  • My Adventures on Rady's Annual Bay Area MBA Career Trek

    February 19, 2015
    by Sarah Feldman

    The annual Bay Area Trek is not only a key element of Rady’s MBA experience for those interested in working or interning in the Silicon Valley, but also an opportunity to learn about a vast array of career opportunities and industry trends at large corporations and startups. Arranged by the Rady Careers Department, the Bay Area Trek includes visits anywhere from Google and Charles Schwab to Andreesen Horowitz and NetApp.
  • Talking Business with Rady Alum Chris Shively

    February 17, 2015
    by Lauren Herr

    Online advertising technology company TrueX Media has had a heck of a past few months. In December TrueX announced its acquisition by 21st Century Fox Inc. for a sum of $200 million and this month announced a deal with Viacom to bring TrueX’s product to the media company’s profile of networks. Rady School alum Chris Shively (MBA ’14) and Manager of Global Business Development at TrueX shares his thoughts and experiences during TrueX’s big business moves.
  • Rady School Center for Business Analytics Partnership to Help Build the Future of Intelligent Transportation

    February 12, 2015
    by Lauren Herr

    Urban Insights was founded to “bring the benefit of big data tools and the application of data science techniques to the transportation industry, which hasn’t yet benefited from getting access to these tools and capabilities in the way the private industry has,” says Phil Silver, Director of Business Development at Urban Insights. Recently, Urban Insights agreed to be a founding corporate partner of Rady’s Center for Business Analytics, to help support the Center’s initiatives to provide practical, real-life experience for students and faculty and use big-data applications to create ongoing solutions and impact for the business world.
  • The Rady School Center for Business Analytics: Enabling Innovative, Actionable Data-Driven Decision-Making for the San Diego Business Community

    February 10, 2015
    by Lauren Herr

    The Center for Business Analytics at the Rady School of Management enables businesses to create value and sustainable competitive advantage as a platform for research and education in big data, analytics and data-driven decision-making by Rady School students, alumni, faculty and staff. The Rady School has recently welcomed Urban Insights Associates, Inc. as a founding corporate partner of the Center. In light of this exciting news, we’ve asked Rady School faculty Karsten Hansen and On Amir to reflect on what makes the Center a unique part of the Rady School, UC San Diego and larger San Diego community.
  • Rady School of Management Welcomes New Faculty Member Charles Sprenger

    February 9, 2015
    by Aleena Karamally

    Charles Sprenger is a new faculty member at the Rady School of Management where he is an Associate Professor of Economics & Strategy. He also teaches courses at the UC San Diego Department of Economics as an Associate Professor. Sprenger received his Ph.D. in Economics from UC San Diego and was most recently an Assistant Professor of Economics at Stanford University.
  • Create Your Pathway, Gain Direction and Acquire Professional Tools With Executive Education and Development

    February 5, 2015
    by BeNeca Griffin

    Many question the importance of investing in executive education and development with the belief that every company builds sufficient training into each position. Contrary to that belief, companies often hire executives who have been developed elsewhere and come in with the experience and perspective needed to elevate the company to the next level.
  • The Best Things About Living in San Diego

    February 3, 2015
    by Vance Lopez

    There is no shortage of articles that address this topic. A quick Google search of the title of this blog post will uncover lists aplenty about the great things that San Diego has to offer. The allure of this acclaimed vacation-destination city is easily confirmed by my first-hand experience. I came to San Diego in 2010 after not-so-begrudgingly accepting orders to relocate to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. After four and a half years, the city is still delivering on its promise of endless delights.
  • Rady Alumni Establish Their Lab to Market to Bring Mobile Auto Maintenance to Working Professionals in San Diego

    January 29, 2015
    by Aleena Karamally

    Executive Oil Services (EOS) is a unique, mobile auto maintenance service for working professionals in San Diego. The company, which was cofounded by Loren Chang and Andrew Zorko, two Full Time MBA Alumni who graduated from Rady in 2014, provides oil changes and other services to employees at individual companies and business parks, as well as tenants at apartment complexes. Customers use an online system to schedule their service. The EOS van then visits the customers’ locations on a set date approximately twice a month, efficiently completes the requested service, and returns the customers’ keys to them directly. Zorko and Chang are a prime example of the long-term benefits of the skills and connections that come with a Rady MBA.
  • An Admissions Director's View of the Admission Interview

    January 27, 2015
    by Jay Bryant

    Yes, I know, you have already jumped through so many hoops and over so many hurdles with your graduate school applications – but this is the final test, the last chance to show you are MBA quality… the interview!
  • New Year, More Impact: A Look Back on the Influence of Philanthropy at the Rady School in 2014

    January 22, 2015
    by Ashley Dittmar

    Each January, we like to reflect on the past year at the Rady School through our Annual Impact Report.
  • Getting to Know the Rady School Student MBA Ambassadors, Part Three

    January 20, 2015
    by Aleena Karamally

    In part three of this six-part blog series, Wu Bin, current full-time MBA student, shares some of his favorite things about Rady and San Diego.
  • Professor Terrence August's Top Tips to Avoid CyberCrime

    January 15, 2015
    by Aleena Karamally

    MBA Career Connection's Top Sites for a Successful Career Strategy
  • Getting to Know the Rady School Student MBA Ambassadors, Part Two

    January 13, 2015
    by Aleena Karamally

    The Rady School of Management offers prospective students a chance to interact with current students, our Student MBA Ambassadors, in order to gain a peer perspective on student life, academics, and culture at Rady School.The Ambassadors share their unique and genuine experiences so you can get a complete picture of life in San Diego and truly imagine yourself at Rady. In the second part of our six-part blog series, Vance Lopez shares his Rady story and his advice to prospective students.
  • Getting to Know the Rady School Student MBA Ambassadors

    January 8, 2015
    by Lauren Herr

    Some of the most integral factors weighed when deciding on an MBA program can also be the hardest to predetermine before applying. The Rady School of Management is proud to introduce our six current student MBA ambassadors who are eager to provide prospective students first-hand knowledge of what matters to you – the topics that aren’t as simple to glean from a website, program ranking or online tour.
  • Lessons from the Beyster Institute: The Truth About Employee Ownership

    January 6, 2015
    by Martin Staubus

    Does Employee Ownership Really Do Anything for Company Performance?
  • Do Not Wait. ELEVATE!

    December 23, 2014
    by Nancy Peritz

    On Tuesday, December 16, 2014, sixty coworkers, managers and executives all came together for a certificate ceremony at Northrop Grumman Corporation (NGC) in Rancho Bernardo to congratulate thirty of their colleagues who earned the Elevate Strategic Leader Certificate.
  • Deck the Malls

    December 18, 2014
    by Martin Staubus

    A tale of entrepreneurship – and a leading holiday decoration company becomes employee owned