The numerous scandals in business, such as those at AIG, Tyco, WorldCom, Enron and Ahold, have made all of us concerned about the emergence of unethical and irresponsible behavior in organizations. Such widespread corruption in business and politics has, as result, prompted a growth of interest in the field of business ethics. At the same time, however, within the academic world it is also recognized that to tackle those unethical actions in an efficient way, the field of business ethics needs to integrate insights from behavioral science. In this inaugural address I focus more closely on the benefits that a behavioral approach can bring to the field of business ethics. In presenting these benefits, I draw a distinction between prescriptive and descriptive approaches and outline how the field of psychology can help in integrating these two perspectives so that we can move towards a more comprehensive understanding of behavioral business ethics. This integration is illustrated by my own research addressing how sanctioning and regulation systems affect behavior, the benefits of procedural fairness and the workings of trust repair strategies. Finally, I formulate some implications for academia, the government and economics.

Additional Metadata
Keywords behavioral ethics, business ethics, descriptive, procedural fairness, sanctions, trust repair
JEL Government Policy and Regulation (jel G38), Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior (jel L2), Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting (jel M), Business Administration: General (jel M10), Personnel Management (jel M12)
Publisher Erasmus Research Institute of Management
Sponsor Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)
Persistent URL
Series ERIM Inaugural Address Series Research in Management
Journal ERIM report series research in management Erasmus Research Institute of Management
de Cremer, D. (2009, October 23). On Understanding the Human Nature of Good and Bad Behavior in Business: A Behavioral Ethics Approach. ERIM report series research in management Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Retrieved from