Loophole Ethics

  • øyvind Kvalnes
Open Access
Chapter

Abstract

Codes of conduct are statements that commit organizations, industries, and professions to particular moral values and beliefs, and define appropriate behaviour for employees and professionals. This chapter explores how codes of conduct can affect the moral reasoning and behaviour in the workplace. On the one hand, they clarify the scope of action available to decision-makers, but on the other hand, they can incentivize people to identify and exploit loopholes in the codes. When organizations structure ethics around a set of codes defining appropriate behaviour, it can create an unforeseen and unwanted form of creativity. Loophole ethics is the activity of remaining loyal to the letter of the code of conduct, and assume that anything the code is silent about, is morally acceptable. The International Federation of Accountants operate with a code of ethics that is 162 pages long. It increases with each new edition, and the main reason for this development seems to be that since the last edition, some accountants have identified and exploited a loophole. Instead of operating with codes of conduct of increasing complexity, professionals and organizations should leave more room for the use of personal and common judgment.

Copyright information

© øyvind Kvalnes 2015

Open Access This Chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • øyvind Kvalnes
    • 1
  1. 1.BI Norwegian Business SchoolNorway

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