By Jeroen Nieboer
On September the 1st, we had the honour of welcoming professor Max Bazerman from Harvard Business School for a talk. The topic of his talk was “The Morality of Joint versus Separate Decisions” and was jointly organised by LSE and the London Behavioural Economics Network (LBEN).
Over the course of his impressive career, Max Bazerman has made key contributions to our understanding of negotiation, a wide range of ethical issues and decision making. During the talk, he presented his research on how people resolve moral dilemmas, focussing specifically on whether people evaluated their options “one at a time” (separate) or together (joint).
The surprising finding in this line of research is that people’s evaluation of which of two options is the more “ethical” depended on how they evaluated these options. He showed that the findings often have straightforward applications. In the context of gender discrimination in the workplace, his findings suggest that joint evaluation of job applicants significantly reduces gender discrimination based on stereotypes about people’s productivity. On top of that, hiring with lower discrimination rates also raised overall productivity in the experimental study.
The mix of academics and practitioners in the audience made for a lively and varied discussion afterwards. We would like to thank LBEN for co-organising and promoting the event – after last year’s event with Robert Cialdini, this was another collaborative success. Whilst Prof. Bazerman travelled on to the opening night of the BX conference after his talk, the audience gathered in the Old Bank of England pub for an early edition of the monthly LBEN drinks.