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Social Irresponsibility in Management


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  • JS Armstrong

    (The Wharton School - University of Pennsylvania)


Previously published research suggested that the typical manager may be expected to harm others in his role as a manager. Further support for this was drawn from the Panalba role-playing case. None of the 57 control groups in this case were willing to remove a dangerous drug from the market. In fact, 79% of these groups took active steps to prevent its removal. This decision was classified as irresponsible by 97% of the respondents to a questionnaire. Because the role exerts such powerful effects, an attempt was made to modify subject’s perceptions of their role so that managers would feel responsible to all of the firm’s interest groups. Some subjects were told that board members should represent all interest groups; other subjects were placed on boards of directors where the different groups were represented. Subjects in both groups also received information on the impact of the decisions upon stockholders, employees, and customers. The percentage of irresponsible decisions was reduced under these conditions as only 22% of the 116 groups selected the highly irresponsible decision.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series General Economics and Teaching with number 0412031.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 10 Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpgt:0412031

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Keywords: obedience to authority; Panalba; role-playing; social accounting; social responsibility; stakeholder theory;

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Cited by:
  1. Arnold, Denis G. & Valentin, Andres, 2013. "Corporate social responsibility at the base of the pyramid," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(10), pages 1904-1914.
  2. Woodside, Arch G., 2012. "Incompetency training: Theory, practice, and remedies," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 279-293.
  3. Murphy, Patrick E. & Schlegelmilch, Bodo B., 2013. "Corporate social responsibility and corporate social irresponsibility: Introduction to a special topic section," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(10), pages 1807-1813.
  4. Lin-Hi, Nick & Müller, Karsten, 2013. "The CSR bottom line: Preventing corporate social irresponsibility," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(10), pages 1928-1936.
  5. Ignacio Ferrero & W. Michael Hoffman & Robert E. McNulty, 2012. "Must Milton Friedman Embrace Stakeholder Theory?," Faculty Working Papers 10/12, School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Navarra.
  6. Herzig, Christian & Moon, Jeremy, 2013. "Discourses on corporate social ir/responsibility in the financial sector," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(10), pages 1870-1880.
  7. Green, Kesten C., 2002. "Forecasting decisions in conflict situations: a comparison of game theory, role-playing, and unaided judgement," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 321-344.
  8. Armstrong, J. Scott & Green, Kesten C., 2012. "Effects of corporate social responsibility and irresponsibility policies," MPRA Paper 43007, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Watkins, Alison & Hill, Ronald Paul, 2011. "Morality in marketing: Oxymoron or good business practice?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(8), pages 922-927, August.
  10. JS Armstrong, 2004. "The Panalba Role Playing Case," General Economics and Teaching 0412029, EconWPA.
  11. JS Armstrong, 2005. "Strategic Planning And Forecasting Fundamentals," General Economics and Teaching 0502066, EconWPA.
  12. Windsor, Duane, 2013. "Corporate social responsibility and irresponsibility: A positive theory approach," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(10), pages 1937-1944.
  13. Najah Attig & Sean Cleary & Sadok Ghoul & Omrane Guedhami, 2014. "Corporate Legitimacy and Investment–Cash Flow Sensitivity," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 121(2), pages 297-314, May.
  14. JS Armstrong, 2005. "The Manager’s Dilemma: Role Conflict in Marketing," General Economics and Teaching 0502042, EconWPA.
  15. JS Armstrong, 2004. "Forecasting Methods for Conflict Situations," General Economics and Teaching 0412025, EconWPA.
  16. Joseph Heath, 2008. "Business Ethics and Moral Motivation: A Criminological Perspective," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 83(4), pages 595-614, December.
  17. Putrevu, Sanjay & McGuire, Jean & Siegel, Donald S. & Smith, David M., 2012. "Corporate social responsibility, irresponsibility, and corruption: Introduction to the special section," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 65(11), pages 1618-1621.


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