Written on 18 June 2014.
Internal investigations that aim at clarifying ethics violations but turn unethical themselves? Compliance and ethics management that fails to identify the roots of violations? These are some of the subjects covered by EDHEC Professor Björn Fasterling in two recent research papers, excerpts of which he presented at the 2014 European Business Ethics Networks Conference in Berlin, June 12 - 14. Björn Fasterling, professor of law and business ethics also selected academic papers for a special session of the conference that focused on business ethics, corporate social responsibility, and law.
Professor Fasterling presented a paper co-authored with Wilhelm Hartung, an attorney with the international law firm of K&L Gates, entitled “Corporate Internal Investigations and the Ethics of Compliance in Situations of Crisis.” Internal investigations can easily go wrong: they can end up violating employee privacy, create unnecessary disruption, and sometimes be used to cover up problems rather than to solve them. Professor Fasterling also presented a paper co-authored with Professor Julie Bayle-Cardier of IESEG Paris and Professor Bertrand Moingeon of HEC Paris entitled “Ending the Compliance Game.”
“After an ethics scandal, company CEOs often announce that they have resolved the problem and they move on, but the reality is that they may be playing a ‘Compliance Game,’ a game in which regulators and those they regulate are too close,” said Professor Fasterling, explaining why the Compliance Game has negative effects on efforts to improve business practices. “In the end, there is often a negotiation that results in companies taking measures that are visible and documentable rather than revisiting the implicit values and cultural issues that led to the ethics violation in the first place.”
The annual EBEN conference is especially interesting because it brings together academics, business people, non-profit professionals, philosophers, and lawyers, said Professor Fasterling. “It’s great to have people from different fields in the same room exchanging ideas on the same topic from different academic and professional angles,” he said. EDHEC Business School hosted an EBEN conference on its Lille campus in September 2013. The theme of that conference was “License to operate” and it was held in collaboration with EBEN France - Cercle d’Ethique des Affaires, Total, the Auchan Group, La Poste and ABIS.