Max H. Bazerman

51 Results

 

Is Too Much Focus a Problem?

Intense management focus can have a downside: It limits noticing. James Heskett asks readers to help him address this forest-for-the-trees problem. What do YOU think? Open for comment; 21 Comments posted.

Eyes Shut: The Consequences of Not Noticing

In his new book The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See, Max Bazerman explains how and why many executives fail to notice critical information in their midst. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Morality Rebooted: Exploring Simple Fixes to Our Moral Bugs

Although scholars know far more now than they used to about the conditions under which individuals are likely to behave, current understandings are still primarily descriptive. This paper responds to the challenge of advancing knowledge of unethical behavior from largely descriptive research to a framework aimed to reduce or even eliminate unethical behavior in organizations. The goal is twofold: First, the authors identify approaches to mitigating unethical behavior based on empirical evidence from existing research in moral psychology and behavioral ethics. Second, they develop a framework for evaluating different strategies with prescriptive recommendations on how to reduce unethical behaviors. Overall they find that ethical fixes emerge in two broad categories: values-oriented and structure-oriented approaches. Values-oriented approaches shift people's preferences to be moral, whereas structure-oriented approaches seek to design incentives, decisions, and tasks such that the unethical option is less tempting. Based on theory and empirical findings, the authors propose that adopting both values-oriented and structure-oriented approaches mitigates the risk of adverse effects from one strategy taken from a single approach. Read More

5 Weight Loss Tips From Behavioral Economists

Business scholars, particularly behavioral economists, study what motivates people to buy, save, donate, and any other number of actions that build society. In helping organizations run better, this research can also be read in a different light. Diet tips, anyone? Closed for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Better by the Bunch: Evaluating Job Candidates in Groups

The key to avoiding gender stereotyping in the hiring process lies in evaluating job candidates as a group, rather than one at a time. So says new research by Iris Bohnet, Alexandra van Geen, and Max H. Bazerman. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

When Performance Trumps Gender Bias: Joint versus Separate Evaluation

Gender-based discrimination in hiring, promotion, and job assignments is difficult to overcome. This paper suggests a new intervention aimed at avoiding biased assessments: an "evaluation nudge," in which employees are evaluated jointly rather than separately regarding their future performance. While joint evaluation is common for most hiring decisions, especially at the lower levels, it is rarely used when job assignments and promotions are being considered. The research shows that a joint-evaluation mode succeeds in helping employers choose based on past performance, irrespective of an employee's gender and the implicit stereotypes the employer may hold. While it is not always feasible to bundle promotion decisions and explicitly compare candidates, the research suggests that, whenever possible, joint evaluation would increase both efficiency and equality. Findings have implications for organizations that want to decrease the likelihood that hiring, promotion, and job-assignment decisions will be based on irrelevant criteria triggered by stereotypes. Read More

Behavioral Ethics: Toward a Deeper Understanding of Moral Judgment and Dishonesty

What makes even good people cross ethical boundaries? Society demands that business and professional schools address ethics, but the results have been disappointing. This paper argues that a behavioral approach to ethics is essential because it leads to understanding and explaining moral and immoral behavior in systematic ways. The authors first define business ethics and provide an admittedly biased history of the attempts of professional schools to address ethics as a subject of both teaching and research. They next briefly summarize the emergence of the field of behavioral ethics over the last two decades, and turn to recent research findings in behavioral ethics that could provide helpful directions for a social science perspective to ethics. These new findings on both intentional and unintentional unethical behavior can inform new courses on ethics as well as new research investigations. Such new directions can meet the demands of society more effectively than past attempts of professional schools. They can also produce a meaningful and significant change in the behavior of both business school students and professionals. Read More

It’s Alive! Business Scholars Turn to Experimental Research

Business researchers are turning increasingly to experiments in the lab and field to unlock the secrets of what motivates CEOs, consumers, and policymakers. Closed for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Signing at the Top: The Key to Preventing Tax Fraud?

In filling out self-reported documents such as tax forms, we declare the information truthful with our signature, but usually we sign at the end of the form. Researchers Francesca Gino and Lisa Shu discuss whether governments and companies can bolster honesty simply by moving the honesty pledge and signature line to the top of the form, before people encounter the opportunity to cheat. Closed for comment; 4 Comments posted.

How Ethical Can We Be?

Summing Up Managers like to think they act ethically, but at the end of the day ethical action is subjective, readers tell Jim Heskett. Reaction to the new book Blind Spots. Closed for comment; 38 Comments posted.

Blind Spots: We’re Not as Ethical as We Think

Even when we think we are making principled decisions, recent research reveals we are not as ethical as we would like to believe. Professor Max H. Bazerman discusses his new book, Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What's Right and What to Do about It. Plus: Book excerpt. Open for comment; 12 Comments posted.

Naivete and Cynicism in Negotiations and Other Competitive Contexts

In business and in life, it's important to strike a smart balance between na´vetÚ and cynicism. Act too na´vely, and someone is bound to take advantage of you. Skew cynical, and you may miss out on new opportunities with good people. This paper discusses the decision errors inherent in leaning too far in either direction. Research was conducted by Chia-Jung Tsay, Lisa. L. Shu, and Max H. Bazerman of Harvard Business School. Read More

Cognitive Barriers to Environmental Action: Problems and Solutions

Researchers have long studied the cognitive barriers that cloud our thinking and decision-making. In a recent book chapter, HBS doctoral student Lisa L. Shu and professor Max H. Bazerman look at three barriers that can prevent clear decision-making, specifically on environmental issues. They also propose ways in which these biases could be put to advantage in promoting sound environmental policy and practice. Read More

A Decision-Making Perspective to Negotiation: A Review of the Past and a Look into the Future

The art and science of negotiation has evolved greatly over the past three decades, thanks to advances in the social sciences in collaboration with other disciplines and in tandem with the practical application of new ideas. In this paper, HBS doctoral student Chia-Jung Tsay and professor Max H. Bazerman review the recent past and highlight promising trends for the future of negotiation research. In the early 1980s, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was a hot spot on the negotiations front, as scholars from different disciplines began interacting in the exploration of exciting new concepts. The field took a big leap forward with the creation of the Program on Negotiation, an interdisciplinary, multicollege research center based at Harvard University. At the same time, Roger Fisher and William Ury's popular book Getting to Yes (1981) had a pronounced impact on how practitioners think about negotiations. On a more scholarly front, a related, yet profoundly different change began with the publication of HBS professor emeritus Howard Raiffa's book The Art and Science of Negotiation (1982), which for years to come transformed how researchers would think about and conduct empirical research. Read More

In Favor of Clear Thinking: Incorporating Moral Rules into a Wise Cost-Benefit Analysis

Policy decisions may be the most important set of decisions we make as a society. In this realm, moral rules often play an active and dysfunctional role. The typical way in which we make decisions—by weighing them individually—leads us to overuse moral rules in a manner that is inconsistent with the more reflective set of preferences we would identify through joint consideration of options. In their response to a companion article in Perspectives on Psychological Science, Max Bazerman, of HBS, and Joshua D. Greene, of Harvard University, argue that cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is unfairly stereotyped. The critique of CBA in the companion article could be better framed as a set of considerations that can contribute to more careful CBAs. Read More

Policy Bundling to Overcome Loss Aversion: A Method for Improving Legislative Outcomes

Citizens hope their elected representatives will pass legislation that creates net gains that outweigh net harms—in other words, legislation that has positive expected value for society. However, economist Joseph Stiglitz has noted that legislators often fail to pass such legislation, even when its net positive expected value is highly significant. The psychology and economics literature suggests that legislators face an uphill battle when proposing legislation that has both costs and benefits due to the power of loss aversion, a cognitive bias that has been found to cause individuals to dramatically overweight losses relative to gains. Here the authors propose and test a new type of policy bundling technique in which related bills that have both costs and benefits are combined in a way that reduces the harmful effects of loss aversion. Read More

On Good Scholarship, Goal Setting, and Scholars Gone Wild

When confronted by anecdotal evidence and some causal evidence, how should scholars—and indeed businesses and society—react? In this response to a critique in the journal Academy of Management Perspectives, the authors articulate the aims of their article "Goals Gone Wild: How Goals Systematically Harm Individuals and Organizations," describe points of disagreement with the critics, offer a definition of good scholarship, and suggest a program of research for future studies of goal setting. Read More

Sharpening Your Skills: Managing Teams

The ability to lead teams is fast becoming a critical skill for all managers in the 21st century. Here are four HBS Working Knowledge stories from the archives that address everything from how teams learn to turning individual performers into team players. Read More

When Goal Setting Goes Bad

If you ever wondered about the real value of goal setting in your organization, join the club. Despite the mantra that goals are good, the process of setting beneficial goals is harder than it looks. New research by HBS professor Max H. Bazerman and colleagues explores the hidden cost when stretch goals are misguided. Read More

Barriers to Acting in Time on Energy and Strategies for Overcoming Them

What can the new presidential administration do to address our energy problems? For the past decade, most experts have accepted climate change as a fact, making the issue difficult to ignore—yet many politicians, and the voters who elect them, have done exactly that: ignored the problem. Scientists, policymakers, and others have come up with good ideas to address climate change and other energy issues. Many people seek to identify one cause of climate change, when it is abundantly clear that there are multiple causes. Cognitive, organizational, and political barriers exist that prevent us from addressing energy problems despite clearly identified courses of action. The creation and implementation of wise policy recommendations requires us to anticipate resistance to change and develop strategies that can overcome these barriers. Enacting wise legislation to act in time to solve energy problems requires surmounting cognitive, organizational, and political barriers to change. Read More

Dishonest Deed, Clear Conscience: Self-Preservation through Moral Disengagement and Motivated Forgetting

Why do people engage in unethical behavior repeatedly over time? In Everybody Does It! (1994), Thomas Gabor documents the pervasive immorality of ordinary people. Challenging the stereotype that only criminals violate the law, Gabor describes the numerous transgressions of everyday life and suggests that the excuses people make for their dishonest behavior parallel the justifications criminals make for their crimes. This common tendency of people to justify and distance themselves from their unethical behavior has captured the attention of several psychologists, and a long stream of research has documented differences in the way people think about their own ethical behavior and that of others. Harvard Business School's Lisa Shu and Max Bazerman, with colleague Francesca Gino, show that seemingly innocuous aspects of the environment can promote the decision to act ethically or unethically. Read More

Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Over-Prescribing Goal Setting

For decades, goal setting has been promoted as a halcyon pill for improving employee motivation and performance in organizations. Advocates of goal setting argue that for goals to be successful, they should be specific and challenging, and countless studies find that specific, challenging goals motivate performance far better than "do your best" exhortations. The authors of this article, however, argue that it is often these same characteristics of goals that cause them to "go wild." Read More

Dirty Work, Clean Hands: The Moral Psychology of Indirect Agency

When powerful people do morally questionable things, they rarely interact directly with their putative victims. Mobsters have hit men. CEOs have vice presidents, lawyers, and accountants. More specifically, the powerful are likely to carry out their intentions through the actions of other agents, with varying degrees of explicit direction and control. This working paper describes four studies that explore the effects of such "indirect agency" on moral judgment. Read More

Nameless + Harmless = Blameless: When Seemingly Irrelevant Factors Influence Judgment of (Un)ethical Behavior

Most of us regularly make ethical judgments about others' behavior and make decisions regarding whether or not to punish others' unethical behavior. Although many of us know how we would rationally like to behave in these situations, little prior research has explored the systematic errors we commit in the process of evaluating others' unethical behavior and acting upon it. The present research by Gino, Shu, and Bazerman focuses on the effects of both the outcome of unethical acts and the identifiability of the victim of wrongdoing on ethical judgments and decisions to punish unethical behavior. Read More

How Can Decision Making Be Improved?

While scholars can describe how people make decisions, and can envision how much better decision-making could be, they still have little understanding of how to help people overcome blind spots and behave optimally. Chugh, Milkman, and Bazerman organize the scattered knowledge that judgment and decision-making scholars have amassed over several decades about how to reduce biased decision-making. Their analysis of the existing literature on improvement strategies is designed to highlight the most promising avenues for future research. Read More

No Harm, No Foul: The Outcome Bias in Ethical Judgments

Too often, workers are evaluated based on results rather than on the quality of the decision. Given that most consequential business decisions involve some uncertainty, the upshot is that organizations wind up rewarding luck rather than wisdom. From a rational decision-making perspective, people's decisions should be evaluated based on the information the decision maker had available to him or her at the time, and not based on the ultimate results. This paper tests predictions about this effect, known as the outcome bias, in two studies in which participants were asked to consider various ethically questionable behaviors. Participants were also given information about the outcome of such behaviors and were asked to rate the ethicality of the described actions with or without the outcome information. The findings extend prior research in psychology and ethics. Read More

Modeling Expert Opinions on Food Healthiness: A Nutrition Metric

Despite an increased standard of living in the United States and other developed countries, health problems attributable to poor nutrition persist in part due to consumers' inability to translate the dietary advice of nutrition experts into anything actionable. Citing the improvement of public health as a primary objective, numerous studies have highlighted the need for a nutritional scoring system that is both comprehensive in its coverage of food products and easily understood by consumers. In this paper the researchers advance this objective by proposing a nutrition metric that is based on the current views of leading experts in the field. The metric can be used to score any food or beverage for which several component nutrient quantities are known. Read More

Psychological Influence in Negotiation: An Introduction Long Overdue

This paper attempts to encourage a better dialogue between research on social influence and on negotiation. It provides an overview of the literature on both areas, and identifies opportunities for creating more effective and useful research. First, HBS professors Deepak Malhotra and Max Bazerman identify those elements of psychological influence that do not require the influencer to change the economic or structural aspects of the bargaining situation in order to persuade the target. Second, they review prior research on behavioral decision-making in negotiation to identify those ideas that may be relevant to influence in negotiation. Third, they provide a framework for thinking about how to leverage behavioral decision research to wield influence in negotiation. Fourth, they consider how targets of influence might defend against these tactics. Fifth, because psychological influence is, by definition, aimed at achieving one's own ends through the strategic manipulation of another's judgment, they consider the ethical issues surrounding its application in negotiation. Read More

See No Evil: When We Overlook Other People’s Unethical Behavior

Even good people sometimes act unethically without their own awareness. This paper explores psychological processes as they affect the ethical perception of others' behavior, and concludes with implications for organizations. First, there is a tendency for people to overlook unethical behavior in others when recognizing such behavior would harm them. Second, people might readily ignore unethical behavior when others have an agent do their dirty work for them. Third, gradual moral decay leads people to grow comfortable with behavior to which they would otherwise object. Fourth, the tendency to value outcomes over processes can lead us to accept unethical processes for far too long. Read More

Mental Accounting and Small Windfalls: Evidence from an Online Grocer

In the course of daily life, people occasionally receive small windfalls. Every so often we are handed a gift certificate for $5 off a meal, find a $10 bill on the street, or win $20 in an impromptu game of poker. According to standard economic theory, these types of small windfalls should have no noticeable effect on spending decisions because such windfalls constitute meaningless changes to lifetime wealth. However, if you have ever been the recipient of a small windfall, you may remember thinking about ways to spend this unexpected cash, buying items you might not have otherwise purchased. This kind of behavior can be interpreted as an example of "mental accounting" as theorized by economists Richard H. Thaler and Hersh M. Shefrin. This paper presents evidence supporting some of the implications of a theory of mental accounting in the domain of online grocery shopping. Read More

Harnessing Our Inner Angels and Demons: What We Have Learned About Want/Should Conflicts and How That Knowledge Can Help Us Reduce Short-Sighted Decision Making

Many of the most important problems facing the world today are exacerbated by myopic decision-making. Examples include climate change, under-saving for retirement, deficit spending, and obesity. As observed by Freud, contemporary psychologists and researchers, and entertainers, people everywhere struggle to choose between doing what they want to do and what they should do. This paper synthesizes 15 years of empirical explorations of this "want/should" conflict and discusses the most important applications of this work. The results of recent studies have the potential to help individuals and policymakers by arming them with insights about how to increase the chances that they and their constituents, respectively, will favor options that are in their best interest. Read More

Dealing with the ‘Irrational’ Negotiator

"Negotiators who are quick to label the other party 'irrational' do so at great potential cost to themselves," say HBS professors Deepak Malhotra and Max H. Bazerman. Their new book, Negotiation Genius, combines expertise in psychology with practical examples to show how anyone can improve dealmaking skills. In this excerpt, Malhotra and Bazerman describe what to do when the other party's behavior does not make sense. Read More

Encouraging Dissent in Decision-Making

Our natural tendency to maintain silence and not rock the boat, a flaw at once personal and organizational, results in bad—sometimes deadly—decisions. Think New Coke, The Bay of Pigs, and the Columbia space shuttle disaster, for starters. Here's how leaders can encourage all points of view. Read More

Why We Aren’t as Ethical as We Think We Are: A Temporal Explanation

People commonly predict that they will behave more ethically in the future than they actually do. When evaluating past (un)ethical behavior, they also believe they behaved more ethically than they actually did. These misperceptions, both of prediction and of recollection, have important ramifications for the distinction between how ethical we think we are and how ethical we really are, as well as understanding how such misperceptions are perpetuated over time. This paper draws on recent research in psychology and decision-making to gain insight into these forces. It also provides recommendations for reducing them. Read More

Understanding the ‘Want’ vs. ’Should’ Decision

Pizza or salad? Consumers use different approaches to buying things they want (pizza) versus items they should buy (salad). In their research on online grocery-buying habits and DVD rentals, Harvard Business School's Katy Milkman and Todd Rogers, along with Professor Max Bazerman, provide insights on the want-should conflict and the implications for managers in areas such as demand forecasting, consumer spending habits, and effective store layout. Read More

Film Rentals and Procrastination: A Study of Intertemporal Reversals in Preferences and Intrapersonal Conflict

Throughout our lives, we face many choices between activities we know we should do and those we want to do. Examples of such choices include whether or not to visit the gym, to smoke, to order a greasy pizza or a healthy salad for lunch, and to watch an action-packed blockbuster or a history documentary on Saturday night. Using data on consumption decisions over time from an Australian online DVD rental company, this paper investigates how and why individuals make systematically different decisions when their choices will take effect in the present versus the future. Read More

Leading and Creating Collaboration in Decentralized Organizations

No matter how a multi-divisional organization is designed, it will need to find effective ways for its units to spontaneously and responsively cross boundaries. This paper discusses 3 key barriers to collaboration and information-sharing within an organization, and offers 3 strategies to overcome them. Read More

I’ll Have the Ice Cream Soon and the Vegetables Later: Decreasing Impatience over Time in Online Grocery Orders

How do people's preferences differ when they make choices for the near term versus the more distant future? Providing evidence from a field study of an online grocer, this research shows that people act as if they will be increasingly virtuous the further into the future they project. Researchers examined how the length of delay between when an online grocery order is completed and when it is delivered affects what consumers order. They find that consumers purchase more "should" (healthy) groceries such as vegetables and less "want" (unhealthy) groceries such as ice cream the greater the delay between order completion and order delivery. The results have implications for public policy, supply chain managers, and models of time discounting. Read More

Behavioral Decision Research, Legislation, and Society: Three Cases

Insights about how people make decisions have enormous importance for society and public policy, yet often behavioral decision findings are overlooked or dismissed in favor of arguments based on sometimes-simplistic economic theory. This is particularly true in Washington, D.C., where Bazerman provided expert testimony in government cases on auditor bias, pharmaceutical company collusion, and big tobacco, respectively. His experiences highlight the barriers to the use of the most appropriate social science under the existing legal and legislative frameworks. In this article that is based on analysis and opinion, he tells what happened and reflects on the need for social sciences, in addition to economics, to be brought to the legal and policy-making domains. Read More

Future Lock-in: Or, I’ll Agree to Do the Right Thing...Next Week

Most of us believe that we should make certain choices—save more money or reduce gas consumption, for example—but we do not want to carry out these choices. In psychology this tension has been referred to as a "want/should" conflict. Rogers and Bazerman show through four experiments that people are more likely to choose what they believe they should choose when the choice will be implemented in the future rather than in the present, a tendency they call "future lock-in." They also discuss directions for future research and applications for public policy, an arena in which citizens are often asked to consider binding policies that trade short-term interests for long-term benefits. Read More

When Not to Trust Your Gut

Most of us trust our intuition more than we should, especially when the pressure is on in negotiations. Professors Max Bazerman and Deepak Malhotra on negotiating more rationally. From Negotiation. Read More

Looking Behind Bad Decisions

In a recent HBS Working Paper, HBS professor Max Bazerman and colleagues explore how biases and human psychology impede policy-making efforts that could vastly improve people's lives. Read More

Maximizing Joint Gains: Transaction Utility Within and Between Groups

Win-win deals are more easily described than carried out. Earlier studies have shown that when people don't know the gender or social category of their negotiating partner, they are happy to make a profit even if their partner earns a greater profit. Four new studies looked at how gender or other social contexts influence the way people cut a deal. Read More

The Potential Downside of Win-Win

You and your negotiating partner may reach a wonderful agreement for both parties, but have you forgotten people who aren't at the bargaining table, such as your consumers? HBS Professor Max H. Bazerman reflects in this article from Negotiation. Read More

Planning for Surprises

A company doesn't need a crystal ball to see impending disasters. Harvard Business School professor Max H. Bazerman and INSEAD professor Michael D. Watkins explain how to foresee and avoid predictable surprises. Read More

Three Steps for Crisis Prevention

Can you predict a business disaster? In this Harvard Business Review excerpt, professors Michael D. Watkins and Max H. Bazerman outline the keys for disaster prevention: recognition, prioritization, and mobilization. Read More

Most Accountants Aren’t Crooks—Why Good Audits Go Bad

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act sets stiff penalties for auditors and executives who commit fraud. Problem is, says Harvard Business School professor Max H. Bazerman and his collaborators, most bad audits are the result of unconscious bias, not corruption. Here's a new look at how to audit the auditors. Read More

Is There Help for the Big Ticket Buyer?

Buying a house, buying a car, investing for retirement. These are among the most important purchasing decisions people make. But who is there to advise them? HBS professor Max H. Bazerman has some ideas. Read More

Is Government Just Stupid? How Bad Decisions Are Made

Why is it that politicos make such poor decisions? The authors of "You Can't Enlarge the Pie" suggest that government leaders could benefit from basic decision-making skills. Plus: Q&A with HBS professor Max Bazerman. Read More

The Emerging Art of Negotiation

A negotiation is rarely open-and-shut, but research is starting to reveal a number of ways that this complicated and often-volatile process might go a lot better for all concerned. HBS Professor Kathleen L. Valley, HBS Senior Research Fellow Max H. Bazerman and two colleagues point the way toward a new understanding of the psychology of negotiation. Read More