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Can we commit future managers to honesty?

Author

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  • Nicolas Jacquemet

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Stéphane Luchini

    (AMSE - Aix-Marseille Sciences Economiques - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • J Rosaz

    (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet - Saint-Étienne - Université de Lyon - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • J F Shogren

    (UW - University of Wyoming)

Abstract

In a competitive business environment, dishonesty can pay. Self-interested executives and managers can have incentive to shade the truth for personal gain. In response, the business community has considered how to commit these executives and managers to a higher ethical standard. The MBA Oath and the Dutch Bankers Oath are examples of such a commitment device. The question we test herein is whether the oath can be used as an effective form of ethics management for future executives/managers-who for our experiment we recruited from a leading French business school-by actually improving their honesty. Using a classic Sender-Receiver strategic game experiment, we reinforce professional identity by pre-selecting the group to which Receivers belong. This allows us to determine whether taking the oath deters lying among future managers. Our results suggest "yes and no." We observe that these future executives/managers who took a solemn honesty oath as a Sender were (a) significantly more likely to tell the truth when the lie was detrimental to the Receiver, but (b) were not more likely to tell the truth when the lie was mutually beneficial to both the Sender and Receiver. A joint product of our design is our ability to measure in-group bias in lying behavior in our population of subjects (comparing behavior of subjects in the same and different business schools). The experiment provides clear evidence of a lack of such bias.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas Jacquemet & Stéphane Luchini & J Rosaz & J F Shogren, 2021. "Can we commit future managers to honesty?," Post-Print halshs-03277342, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-03277342
    DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.701627
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://shs.hal.science/halshs-03277342
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    1. Babin, J. Jobu & Chauhan, Haritima S. & Liu, Feng, 2022. "You Can’t Hide Your Lying Eyes: Honesty Oaths and Misrepresentation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 98(C).

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    Keywords

    Commitment; Lying; In-group bias;
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