The twenty-eight contributors to the volume explore the effects of social influence and group persuasion, organizational authority and communication, fragmented responsibility, and the process of rationalization on individual and organizational behavior. Unethical acts, several authors propose, may be unintentionally "assembled" within organizations.
Treatises presented in this volume fall into four broad themes from psychology and behavioral economics: 1) power, influence, and authority; 2) prejudice, discrimination, bigotry and stereotyping; 3) ethical consequences of failing to accomplish ideal models of decision-making; and 4) the management of risk and risky situations by individuals and organizations.
The book is organized into two general sections, one dealing with organizational and social psychological issues and the other dealing with risk, reasoning, and decision-making. Within these sections, the chapters vary in the extent to which the phenomena they highlight are individual or organizational. For example, John Darley outlines ways in which organizational processes may induce people to violate their personal ethical values and George Loewenstein examines the ways in which cognitive biases also may permit people to behave unethically. The organization can be the source of trouble, or mischief can be caused by rather simple individual cognitive processes. Behavior in business, as anywhere, is the product of the interaction between the external factors of organizational environment and individual cognitive processes.