Abstract for: Causal Loop Modeling of Ethics Force Structures: An Exploration

This paper explores the use of causal loop modeling to depict the structure of forces that influence ethical behavior. Our goal is to demonstrate that this kind of modeling can capture and show the complexity inherent in ethics situations. The desire to increase ethical performance is part of a system which includes the desire to increase other aspects of performance, such as competitiveness, profitability, job securoty, wealth, etc. Three examples are used to demonstrate the approach. The first model depicts the generic framework of forces that shape personal ethics behavior. The second model depicts some of the forces that led to the current sub-prime mortgage crisis. The third model focuses on factors and causal loops that can combine to shape the ethical behavior of a business executive. Insights into ethics influences can be gained from the modeling process itself, and from examining the resulting model structures. These insights can provide guidance for policy makers and managers focused on raising ethics behavior. Although our models focus on business ethics in developed free-market economies, the approach is readily applicable to other contexts, such as analysis of the forces impacting on ethics in the professions or in government.