Impulse Control for Corporate Managers

Mar 14, 2011 2:30 PM ET


By Bahar Gidwani

The term “impulse control” describes how some people are able to delay the gratification of their desires, and resist temptation. The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out a good study by Fuld & Co. that describes how various groups of corporate managers reacted when faced with an ethical decision.  I’ll let you read the details for yourself.  What interested me was that Fuld & Co. measured (and contrasted) the level of ethical self-control exhibited in different industries.

As you can guess, we can also do a by-industry investigation of ethical behavior patterns with our 5,000-company dataset.  We have two ratings that relate directly to ethics and impulse control—a subcategory called “Leadership Ethics” and one called “Training Health, & Safety.”

The Fuld & Co. study reported that healthcare and pharmaceutical managers had the highest ethical standards, followed by government and education, manufacturing, technology, and financial and business services.

Our ratings are quite different.  We give our highest scores among the industries they mention to the services area for both leadership ethics and on the training issues that should drive employee behavior.  Our lowest scores go to the manufacturing area—especially durable goods manufacturing

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