Integrity: A Positive Model that Incorporates the Normative Phenomena of Morality, Ethics, and Legality -- Abridged (English Language Version)

41 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2010 Last revised: 11 Feb 2016

Werner Erhard


Michael C. Jensen

Social Science Electronic Publishing (SSEP), Inc.; Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Steve Zaffron

Landmark Worldwide LLC; Vanto Group

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 1, 2016


The Spanish language version of this paper is available at:

We present a positive model of integrity that, as we distinguish and define integrity, provides powerful access to increased performance for individuals, groups, organizations, and societies.

Our model reveals the causal link between integrity and increased performance, quality of life, and value-creation for all entities, and provides access to that causal link. Integrity is thus a factor of production as important as knowledge and technology. Yet the major role of integrity in productivity and performance has been largely hidden or unnoticed, or even ignored by economists and others.

The philosophical discourse, and common usage as reflected in dictionary definitions, leave an overlap and confusion among the four phenomena of integrity, morality, ethics, and legality. This overlap and confusion confound the four phenomena so that the efficacy and potential power of each is seriously diminished.

We show that defining integrity as honoring one’s word, as we have defined “honoring one’s word”: 1) provides an unambiguous and actionable access to the opportunity for superior performance and competitive advantage at the individual, organizational and social levels, and 2) empowers the three virtue phenomena of morality, ethics and legality.

We also demonstrate that applying cost-benefit analysis to honoring your word guarantees that you will be untrustworthy.

This paper, intended for use in our full semester leadership course (see ), is an abridged version of our full paper of the same title available at: .

In creating this abridged version we drew from the full paper referenced above; however we have re-arranged the order of some sections and in some cases added or dropped headings or sub-headings and in some cases added new text.

This abridged paper is written under the assumption that the reader has read the following 6-page document that lays out the basic structure of our model and analysis in an interview format. It is available at: .

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)” (152 pages) available at

Suggested Citation

Erhard, Werner and Jensen, Michael C. and Zaffron, Steve, Integrity: A Positive Model that Incorporates the Normative Phenomena of Morality, Ethics, and Legality -- Abridged (English Language Version) (February 1, 2016). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 10-061; Barbados Group Working Paper No. 10-01; Simon School Working Paper No. 10-07. Available at SSRN: or

Michael C. Jensen (Contact Author)

Social Science Electronic Publishing (SSEP), Inc. ( email )

7858 Sanderling Road
Sarasota, FL 34242
United States
617-510-3363 (Phone)
305 675-3166 (Fax)


Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field
Negotiations, Organizations & Markets
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United States
617-510-3363 (Phone)
305-675-3166 (Fax)


National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

B-1050 Brussels

Steve Zaffron

Landmark Worldwide LLC

353 Sacramento St.
Suite 200
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States

Vanto Group ( email )

353 Sacramento Street
Suite 200
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States

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