Beyond Agency Theory: The Power of Integrity (PDF of PowerPoint Slides)

58 Pages Posted: 5 May 2014

See all articles by Michael C. Jensen

Michael C. Jensen

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

Werner Erhard


Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 1, 2014


There is far too much concern today about the conflicts of interest between people; for example, agency theory (the conflicts of interest between agents and owners) -- a favorite topic of Jensen -- and not enough attention paid to the damage caused by an individual's conflict of interest with himself or herself.

We argue here that a large amount of the damage inflicted on people and organizations is caused by actions of individuals that are not in their own self interest. That is, people consistently impose costs on themselves, their loved ones, friends, associates, partners, employers and the public by actions that are not in their own self interest.

In this presentation we focus on the integrity issues that cause huge problems in the lives of most individuals and to every one we come in contact with. These slides draw on the work on a new model of integrity that we have co-authored with Steve Zaffron and 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 individuals and organizations access to that causal link. Integrity is thus a factor of production as important as knowledge and technology, yet its major role in productivity and performance has been largely hidden or unnoticed, or even ignored by economists and others.

Keywords: Integrity, Morality, Ethics, Legality, Sincerity, Productivity, Performance, Lies, Lying, Managing Earnings, Smoothing Earnings, Collusion, Development, Disclosure Strategy, Fiduciary Responsibility, Financial Reporting, Accounting Errors, Fraud, Corporate Governance

JEL Classification: G34

Suggested Citation

Jensen, Michael C. and Erhard, Werner, Beyond Agency Theory: The Power of Integrity (PDF of PowerPoint Slides) (May 1, 2014). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 10-068, Barbados Group Working Paper No. 10-02, Available at SSRN: or

Michael C. Jensen (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field
Negotiations, Organizations & Markets
Boston, MA 02163
United States


SSRN ( email )

United States


National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

Harvard University - Accounting & Control Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics