Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 6: On the Corruption of Scientists: The Influence of Field, Environment, and Personality
Michael D. Mumford, Alison L. Antes, Cheryl Beeler and Jay J. Caughron* Introduction It is perhaps unfair to compare fields with respect to members’ ethical conduct. Nonetheless, we shall begin by making such a comparison. Ask any group of people on the street what fields of work are most corrupt. Answers to this question will not be surprising – they will mention politicians, financiers, lawyers, business executives, and police officers. Rarely, however, will people mention scientists and engineers as working in fields subject to corruption. In fact our image of scientists and engineers, as people working in fields where the dispassionate pursuit of truth is critical, seems to mitigate the conception of a corrupt scientist or a corrupt engineer. Unfortunately, the facts at hand suggest that this implicit image of scientists and engineers may be wrong. Salient events, events such as the death of study participants, fabrication of studies, and overt plagiarism (Kochan and Budd, 1992; Marshall, 1996) remind us of the potential for ethical misconduct in the sciences and engineering. While these dramatic ethical breaches may be rare, more mundane but more common ethical breaches do appear with some frequency in the sciences and engineering (Steneck, 2004, 2006). In a study by Martinson et al. (2005), scientists working on National Institutes of Health grants were asked whether they had been exposed to incidents of misconduct in the last year. Even in this relatively elite sample of scientists, nearly 30 percent reported that they had been exposed to significant incidents of...
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