Why good people sometimes do bad things: 52 reflections on ethics at work
age. But not only that: we also have a tendency to choose the good. However limited the
experiment may have been, and however primitive the distinction here between good and
evil, this suggests we feel sympathy for what is good.
This positive observation is an important starting point for the rest of the book. If people feel
empathy by nature, then that helps us to determine how we should set up organizations and
how we can best do business and work together. It is then not just a question of imposing
and enforcing (the so-called ‘compliance-approach’ of rules, controls and sanctions) but also,
or even primarily, of cultivating what is already present in the seed (the so-called ‘integrity
approach’ of virtues, relection, and appreciation).
Was the chairman of the bank quoted at the start of this chapter a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Did
he pull the wool over everyone’s eyes in pleading for management on the basis of trust? The
research of Hamlin and colleagues does not provide support for this. What we can suppose is
that he had not lost his childlike, positive view of the world.
1. Good or bad by nature? Empathy and sympathy