Ethics, Trust and Transparency Conference Less than a Week Away

Register now for the “Ethics, Trust and Transparency” conference scheduled next Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Crum Auditorium at the Jim Collins Executive Center on the SMU campus.

At a time when confidence in government and business leaders has been rocked by scandal and questionable decisions it will be both healthy and interesting to hear presentations from business, government, news and academic leaders about ethics and responsibility.

Registration is $40 and open to the public. For more information on the conference and the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, click here.


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Twins Try to Reopen Facebook Lawsuit

Have you ever stolen someone else’s idea? Does it matter if the idea has monetary value or not? According to the Wall Street Journal, “Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea for the influential social-networking site. Three judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals questioned lawyers about whether to toss out a 2008 settlement between Mr. Zuckerberg and his collegiate business partners. While the hearing was short on new revelations, the judges showed signs of reluctance to re-open the settlement.”

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RI Governor: First Order is Ethics

Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chaffee makes ethics oversight his first executive order. Do people need to be monitored to do the right thing?

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NY Governor sends employees to Ethics School

Every 2 years, New York state employees will be required to go to Ethics School. Do we need frequent reminders of what is or isn’t acceptable public behavior?

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Economists Petitioned for Code of Ethics

See why 300 leading academics have called upon the American Economic Association to establish a code of ethics.

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U.S. apologizes to Guatemala for syphilis study

As reported in Friday’s N.Y.Times, the Secretaries of State and HHS have apologized for the experiments, conducted under the auspices of the U.S. Public Health Service between 1946 and 1948, in which nearly 700 Guatemalans were infected without their knowledge or consent to test the efficacy of penicillin. Shades of Tuskegee . . .

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Tom Brady, a Boston charity, and that wrecked Audi S8

The papers were filled with photos and stories when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wrecked his Audi S8 last week (click here for a representative sample). Except it turns out that it wasn’t Brady’s Audi. The car was a loaner provided by the Boston office of the Kennedy-family charity, Best Buddies International, which has loaned the 72-million-dollar-man a new S8 in each of the last three years, presumably out of gratitude for Brady’s volunteer activities for the charity. Nice volunteer work if you can get, though it certainly stretches the concept of “charity” and “voluntarism” beyond recognition. Other Patriots players have received Audi loaners for their support for the charity, too, all of which raises the question whether those dollars might better be spent for the benefit of those whom the charity was created to help out.

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Plagiarism is no big deal?

In one of the dumbest articles Stanley Fish has written, he argues in today’s New York Times blog that plagiarism is a professional transgression (that should be punished as such), but not an ethical one. Really? Lying (about authorship), cheating (like copying the answers from someone else’s exam), and stealing (the intellectual property of another) is not an ethical problem?

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Ethics Specialist Named Dean of Harvard Business School

A sign of the times? Who knows. But Nitin Nohria is one of the prime faculty movers behind the “MBA Oath,” and he both talks the talk and walks the walk. Click here for more.

Here are two excerpts from an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

What does it mean to take on this role after the global economic crisis?
Business itself is at an inflection point. Society’s trust in business has certainly been shaken. As a result, some of society’s trust in business education has been shaken as well. My hope at Harvard Business School is to restore that trust in business and business education. What we have to ask ourselves as business leaders and as a school is what can we do to restore this trust that has been lost so widely. I believe this trust can be repaired.

What’s the common thread running through the current raft of business scandals?
Not all of this is about ethics. It’s a broader thing. There’s something about the way that we began to run business that made the pursuit of short-term profit maximization more important than creating long-term sustainable businesses.

I guess I’d take slight exception to that last answer. Sacrificing short-term profit maximization in favor of systemic stability and sustainability is an ethical issue. It’s also — and let’s pray business leaders figure this out sometime soon — good for their bottom line.

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Was LeBron unethical?

Bob Stone, blogging over at, thinks so:

The very foundation of ethics is the ability to imagine yourself in others??? circumstances. It???s the Golden Rule. James owed the Cav fans a gentle let-down. Instead he left his loyal fans to suffer for two days waiting for the decision, then 27 minutes more, then BAM! Ugly. And unethical.

Unethical? Or just a jerk?

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