Ethics, Values, Ideals, Visions, Dreams, ball tampering…
Where did it all go wrong? It’s time to ask some deeper questions.
How did the ‘best batsman since Bradman’ and an eager rookie end up on the front page of the newspapers? ‘Dave Warner, the bad guy, lured them into it’, is the answer, Bancroft said so himself. Should we all let out a sigh of relief that the culprit has been identified, the penalty handed out, the bad guy banned for life from a leadership role, problem solved?
If only life was so simple…
We all like to think that bad things are done by bad people and the answer is to weed out the greedy bad apples, and re-educate those with bad values or poor character – make an example of the really ‘bad’ ones – and then to increase the penalties to make sure no one ever does bad things again.
However, research shows that this isn’t actually true – that most of us are actually ‘good’ people and that only 4-5% of the population could be considered habitually ‘bad’. So, maybe Dave Warner is not the ‘bad’ guy?
Research shows that situational and contextual factors have a much bigger impact on the creation of unethical outcomes than most of us think and that unethical outcomes occur gradually over a long period of time.
(see the Hayne Royal Commission into banking)
Consider the cricket scenario…
Dave Warner had been ridiculed and taunted by the crowd in a very personal way – they attacked his wife – he’d been so upset by the taunts he’d almost come to blows with the South African wicketkeeper. He’d been failing with the bat and by the time they got to Cape Town, the team was about to lose the series to South Africa – something that had never happened before.
There were rumours that the South African team had tampered with the ball in the Durban test match – allowing them to swing the ball late and claim the victory. Cricket Australia had a ‘win at all costs’ mantra with the team having been told by administrators that ‘we don’t pay you to lose’. The pressure was on, the context set, a decision was made in the heat of the moment, the die cast…
So, where does moral agency lie?
The simple answer is to blame Dave Warner.
The complex and much more difficult answer to confront is to recognise that a range of personal, situational and contextual factors impact on the creation of ‘bad’ outcomes.
So, next time a scandal hits the front page maybe it’s time to ask some deeper questions…
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Alistair Ping is facilitating Leading Ethical Organisations course, (part of the Enterprise Leadership Program). This course helps leaders to understand how their behaviour helps shape the system and build a strong culture that minimises the risk of unethical conduct.
For more information go to https://www.qut.edu.au/study/professional-and-executive-education/courses/leading-ethical-systems.
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