Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

7 weeks of study, 3-5 hours/week

Unethical Decision Making in Organizations

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

7 weeks of study, 3-5 hours/week

Target Audience

The course is open for interested layperson as well as experts who work on related topics, be it as researchers or practitioners (e.g., compliance managers in corporations). No background expertise is required.


Currently, the understanding of why good people make unethical decisions is rather limited, related research is rather fragmented, and the management of such problems in organizations is overly simplistic, legalistic, and inadequate. Understanding contexts, including the dangers of routines, the mindlessness of our daily decisions, and the healing power of mindful decision-making routines is of increasing importance. In this course, you will learn the latest knowledge and the appropriate tool box for dealing with ethical challenges that you will face throughout your life !


  • Explain the impact of social context on individual decision making using various theories (from Management, Sociology, Psychology, and Philosophy)
  • Apply these theories to the analysis of some of the most eminent organizational scandals of the recent decades
  • Assess risks of ethical blindness in your own organizational context
  • Design interventions to reduce such risks for yourself and your organization


This course teaches how narrow frames and strong contexts can push good people towards unethical decisions and how they can protect themselves and their organization against ethical blindness.

The goal of this course is to empower the participants to analyze the risks of unethical or illegal behavior that might be triggered by powerful contexts. It draws from various disciplines such as management, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and literature, in order to learn what these disciplines contribute to a better understanding of unethical behavior. The course also analyzes some of the most prominent organizational scandals of the recent decades through the lenses of these disciplines.

Whenever we hear about ethical scandals, we tend to believe that unethical or illegal behaviour in organizations is driven by character deficiencies of individual actors. Put differently, we simply assume that bad things are done by bad people. However, numerous corporate scandals have demonstrated that even people with a high level of integrity can break the rules if they are put into a strong context.

A better understanding of why and under what conditions good people make bad ethical decisions will enable us to better protect individuals as well as their respective organizations against the potentially overwhelming power of the context. It will also enable us to cure societies from problems like corruption.

Click the above image to watch the trailer


Upon payment, a certificate of attendance could be delivered at the end of the course.


Organising Committee

  • Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC-Lausanne)

Program Directors

  • Prof. Guido Palazzo
    Professor of Business Ethics
  • Prof. Ulrich Hoffrage
    Professor of Decision Theory

Practical information


Ongoing programme, 7 weeks of study, 3-5 hours/week.


No background expertise is required.

Course fee

This course is free of charge.
Upon payment, a certificate of attendance could be delivered at the end of the course.