Ethical Application of Behavioral Science in the Workplace

In this special edition, bestselling author and Forbes contributor, Rodd Wagner, organized a question-and-answer session with Kurt and Tim in front of a live audience to discuss whether behavioral sciences could be applied to corporate environments in ways that allow leaders to manipulate their employees. And, if so, where does that land on the ethical spectrum?

Rodd has grown increasingly intrigued and sometimes concerned that behavioral science has reached a point of refinement and adoption that it could create an unprecedented and unfair imbalance in the social contract between companies and the people who work at them. For example, IBM claims it can predict with 95 percent accuracy whether someone is about to resign and some companies are experimenting with selection systems in which candidates interact first with robots. Rodd, Kurt, and Tim are joined by John Harris, currently the Lead UX Design Researcher in the Healthcare Business Group at 3M and was recently a Projects Director at ideas42, a premiere pro-social non-profit organization. John started his career at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and continues to maintain a very pro-social mindset.

Some of the issues covered in our conversation included:  What if corporate leaders can keep their employee satisfaction scores the same by giving employees water bottles rather than raises? What if the “client” was the rank and file of the firm, rather than the leaders?  If nudges are aggregated, do they necessarily become manipulative? Is there a single ethical code that should be applied to every situation?

We hope you join us for this non-traditional approach to our podcast.

Kurt Nelson, PhD: @WhatMotivates

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan

Sponsored by:

Lantern Group: http://lanterngroup.com/

BehaviorAlchemy: https://www.behavioralchemy.com/

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves


AIRDATE: February 23, 2020 EPISODE 115

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Ethical Application of Behavioral Science in the Workplace

Featured Guest

Kurt Nelson, PhD, Tim Houlihan, Rodd Wagner, John Harris


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