Tag Archiv: social norms

Doubtful Culture Change III

9. September 2013
Moral 3

My previous post discussed the hopes for a shift in corporate cultures – in particular, in investment banking – and concluded with an introduction to behavioural ethics, a new discipline that among other things should help us all to make more ethical decisions. This is sorely needed because practically every enterprise today bases its ethical guidelines and codes of conduct on normative ethics, i.e., on an idealised model of how people are supposed to evaluate ethical dilemmas.

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Moral Terrorism

15. April 2013

Some see it as an act of desperation. Following the tax evasion scandal involving his former Budget Minister, Jerome Cahuzac, French President Francois Hollande had to do something. Demanding that all ministers make public details of their financial assets is, if nothing else, something.

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Old Heads on New Shoulders

17. December 2012

Hardly a week goes by it seems without some new banking scandal in the headlines: tax evasion; LIBOR manipulation; mis-selling of derivative products and insurance; embargo dodging; money laundering, etc. Some of the obvious victims have included private investors and municipalities, but there are also innumerable faceless individuals and firms, taxpayers and savers who have suffered indirectly as a result of the apparent lack of integrity.

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Caught Out

19. November 2012
Gedeck mit ipad

Sometimes even children can teach us a thing or two about behavioural economics.  At least, I received an unexpected (and unwanted) lesson just a couple of weeks ago during a discussion about Christmas wish-lists.

“Paula got an iPad for her birthday, can I have one too?” my nine-year daughter asked me. Her friend Paula was born on the exactly the same day as my child, but she can just about read and her writing leaves much to be desired.

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How Line-Jumping Became Respectable

27. July 2012

How do you feel when, after you have stood in line for 15 minutes in front of a supermarket check-out, someone jumps in ahead of you? Maybe, on a good day, you simply turn a blind-eye. But on a normal day, you’d probably be annoyed by the unfairness. I was certainly irked the other day when a woman ‘secured’ a place in the line ahead of me while her husband ran back and forth between the aisle, slowly filling her caddy with groceries.

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Pauget’s Automobile

24. July 2012

A couple of years ago I attended a speech by Georges Pauget, the then outgoing CEO of Crédit Agricole. The bank had escaped the worst of the financial crisis largely unscathed, so he had a very flattering tale to tell. Remember, bankers were not very popular characters in early 2010; in one poll they ranked just above ‘prostitute’ at the bottom of the list of occupations respondents said they would like to have as a friend.

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The Two-Wheeled Menace

13. June 2012

I have often seen cyclists squeeze through the pedestrians on zebra crossings with no concerns that they might hurt them. Often a short step in their direction by small children on the roads can cause an accident. But not only in Frankfurt, in many other ‘bike-friendly’ German cities too have cyclists shown this unconcerned and careless behavior. I am also an enthusiastic cyclist. I enjoy the feeling of freedom and flexibility that riding a cycle gives especially in big congested cities. And since cycling is considered healthy and environment-friendly, perhaps many cities in Germany are now equipped with cycle paths.

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Carrots, Sticks and Indian Motorists

3. April 2012
Riikscha1 Kopie

Anyone who has been there knows that travelling in an Indian city by motor-rickshaw is an adventure. Instead of using the two-lane traffic system as mapped out by the city planners, drivers there navigate at least three abreast through never-ending traffic jams made up of thousands of cars, trucks, buses, rickshaws, and even more bikes, all accompanied by a chorus of horns, bells and whistles. Red lights are often no more than a well-intended suggestion.  Of course, you also have to contend with the grazing cows on the roadside and, here and there, with pedestrians who also take their chances in the street.  

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The Secret of Marriage

20. June 2011

I was a guest at yet another wedding last Friday – the third in as many weeks. Wedding fever is everywhere around me, so much so that I feel like a deviant for not having already had a wedding dress fitted or for not having browsed any brides’ magazines. How many times in these three weeks have my boyfriend and I had to suffer someone coming up and asking: ‘Do I hear wedding bells for you two?’

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Power Decision Making

6. June 2011

The moratorium on extending the life of Germany’s nuclear power stations will officially come to an end next week. When Chancellor Merkel decreed it in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, I must concede that I doubted that government had really pulled the emergency brake on its nuclear policy

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What’s in a Reputation?

19. May 2011

I’ve heard Dominique Strauss-Kahn variously described as a philanderer, a womaniser, a seducer or, more euphemistically, as someone ‘with a reputation’.  This had me wondering: what is a reputation? It appears to be nothing more than a norm, a reference point that is associated with an individual. One can imagine that a reference point will ultimately crystallise around the typical behaviour pattern of the individual. Hence ‘a reputation’ could be thought of as some rough average of the behaviour an individual exposes observers to over time. Remember, all reference points only exist in the mind of the observer; we cannot therefore perceive our own reputation, only other people’s.

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Look at Me – Don’t Look at Me

21. March 2011

As nearly as I can tell some internet users like to let it all hang out at their chosen social network sites, broadcasting private data to whomever might be interested and decorating their pages with questionable and sometimes embarrassing photos. Along with someone’s beer capacity and bong preferences, we may also even discover the colour of their whale tail.

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