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Going Public with Unethical Business Practices

SMG Professor James Post was interviewed by the media more than 100 times last year about business ethics around the world

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Photo by Vernon Doucette

James Post, the School of Management’s John F. Smith, Jr., Professor of Management, spent much of 2007 sharing his knowledge of corporate governance, ethics, and accountability issues in business and among the general public. He was intervewed by the media scores of times on these issues, calling attention to an upturn in unethical behavior by organizations and individuals and encouraging people to act against it.

“My line of thinking is that we’re really facing an ethics pandemic, which means that this is a crisis in ethical decision-making,” Post says, citing examples from around the world, such as stock-option backdating and product recalls. “For me, the bottom line on all of this is that there’s a great need to talk about ethical challenges that individuals face in organizations and to work with organizations to design systems that encourage ethical behavior and discourage unethical behavior.”

In October 2007, Post was appointed the inaugural John F. Smith, Jr., Professor of Management, a position endowed by John Smith, Jr. (GSM’65), former CEO of General Motors and a former BU trustee, that allows him to spend more time on projects related to ethical issues in current events. He also plans to find additional ways to integrate ethics into the SMG curriculum, a practice he says many business schools lack. “I’m trying to say it’s a mistake not to talk about that, because that’s where the ethical dilemmas arise,” Post says. “We’re trying to train and cultivate students to become leaders who operate with a sense of personal integrity and then create organizations that operate with organizational integrity as well.”

Rebecca McNamara can be reached at ramc@bu.edu.

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