Honest and effective communication in organizations
On Thursday 25 March 2021 Joel W. Berge will hold a trial lecture on a prescribed topic and defend his thesis for the PhD degree at NHH.
Prescribed topic for the trial lecture:
«The role of morality in business decisions»
10:15 in Zoom video conference, NHH
Title of the thesis:
«Essays on Reporting and Information Acquisition Under Conflict of Interest»
In organizations, we often trust experts to give us sound advice and to act in “good faith”. However, one can hardly open a magazine without coming across articles about experts—analysts, doctors, or managers—who have given bad advice, been dishonest, or just blindly acted in their self-interest.
Joel W. Berge has written a Ph.D. thesis that studies how people behave under conflict of interest using incentivized experiments. Though classical economic theory suggests that people act only in their self-interest, the findings of the thesis show that people often forgo monetary benefits to ensure honest communication and that people tend to consider the moral aspects of their decisions.
A key finding, however, is that people seem to place more value on feeling honest rather than acting honestly—making it possible to influence their moral decisions. For example, chapter one looks at how participants acting as project managers are much more likely to recommend sub-optimal projects when they are able to «pretend» to have made an innocent mistake when analyzing data.
Improving accounting systems therefore drastically increases project managers’ honesty because it limits their ability to justify reaching alternative self-serving conclusions.
Other chapters further study how people consider moral aspects of decisions to acquire and report information in situations with little or no possibility of detection.
The thesis demonstrates that understanding how to influence people’s moral considerations can therefore enable more honest and effective communication in organizations.
Members of the evaluation committee:
Professor Anna Gold, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Adjunct Professor, NHH (leader of the committee),
Assistant Professor Katlijn Haesebrouck,, Maastricht University
Professor Victor Maas, Universiteit van Amsterdam
Associate Professor Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge, Department of Accounting, Auditing and Law, NHH
The trial lecture and thesis defence will be open to the public.