Integrity: Without it Nothing Works

6 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2009 Last revised: 10 Jan 2017

Michael C. Jensen

SSRN; Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); Harvard University - Accounting & Control Unit

Date Written: April 6, 2014

Abstract

The Spanish version of this paper is available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2134182

Note: This paper is an interview of Michael Jensen by Karen Christensen on the topic of integrity.

This version of the document has been updated to incorporate new material.

There is confusion between integrity, morality and ethics. In our much longer (and as yet incomplete) paper on the topic (see “Integrity: A Positive Model that Incorporates the Normative Phenomena of Morality, Ethics and Legality” (available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=920625)) my co-authors, Werner Erhard and Steve Zaffron and I, distinguish integrity, from morality and ethics in the following way. Integrity in our model is honoring your word, as we define honoring your word. As such integrity is a purely positive phenomenon. It has nothing to do with good vs. bad, right vs. wrong behavior. Like the law of gravity the law of integrity just is, and if you attempt to violate the law of integrity as we define it you get hurt just as if you try to violate the law of gravity with no safety device. The personal and organizational benefits of honoring one's word are huge -- both for individuals and for organizations -- and generally unappreciated.

An abridged version of the full paper “Integrity: A Positive Model that Incorporates the Normative Phenomena of Morality, Ethics and Legality -- Abridged” is available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1542759

For a full one-day workshop on integrity see: “A New Model of Integrity: The Missing Factor Of Production (PDF file of Keynote and PowerPoint Slides)” available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1559827

For our paper arguing for putting integrity into finance see: “Putting Integrity Into Finance: A Purely Positive Approach” available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1985594

Keywords: Values, Integrity, Morality, Ethics

JEL Classification: G34

Suggested Citation

Jensen, Michael C., Integrity: Without it Nothing Works (April 6, 2014). Rotman Magazine: The Magazine of the Rotman School of Management, pp. 16-20, Fall 2009; Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 10-042; Barbados Group Working Paper No. 09-04; Simon School Working Paper No. FR 10-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1511274

Michael C. Jensen (Contact Author)

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