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Small nudges can create ethical behavior | Sreedhari Desai, UNC at Chapel Hill

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Published on May 24, 2016

Learn how you can use data and science to make work better at https://g.co/rework

Dr. Sreedhari Desai, assistant professor of Organizational Behavior at UNC’s Kenan Flagler School of Business, shares three nudges that have been shown to reduce unethical behavior in the workplace: infusing accountability, displaying moral symbols, and using reminders of childhood.

Contractors, managers, and employees can engage in unethical behavior at work, but traditional methods like monitoring behavior, creating incentives for ethicality, and codes of ethics don’t seem to help. Various behavioral nudges, however, have been shown to be effective. Desai found that asking for itemized bills led to more accountability and less over-billing. She discovered that displaying moral symbols led to patrons to pay more for meals (in a cafe where patrons can set their own price) and made managers less likely to ask their employees to do something unethical. Finally, Desai found that displaying childhood images (which can symbolize moral purity or innocence) led to more ethical behavior.

This video was recorded at the re:Work 2016 event.

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