Ethics, Compliance, and Company Size

by Matt Kelly for Compliance Week, March 21st, 2011.

Like so much else on Twitter, the question shot out of nowhere and raced across my attention span: Are ethics and compliance harder to achieve at large companies, or easier? And like so much else on Twitter, I shot back an answer without really thinking: “Ethics is harder at large companies; compliance is harder at small ones.”

Only later, when that answer had been retweeted by others several times, did I realize I might actually have a good point.

The question came from Chris MacDonald, a professor of philosophy and business ethics at St. Mary’s University in Nova Scotia and author of the Business Ethics Blog, which is worth reading if you’re someone who reads about these things. MacDonald was musing about the challenges of ethics and compliance at global corporations, where one compliance department (and often just one chief compliance officer) is supposed to ensure the good behavior of tens or even hundreds of thousands of employees. That chore would be much easier, he argued, if it were assigned to many small companies instead of one large one, because you’d then have many chief compliance officers instead of just one. (continue reading… )



1 Response to “Ethics, Compliance, and Company Size”

  1. 1 Josephson Institute - Business Ethics and Leadership March 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Individuals at small companies may face greater pressures to meet certain goals or get incentives than members of teams at larger companies.

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