The Living Code: Embedding Ethics into the Corporate DNA

  • 2h 29m
  • Muel Kaptein
  • Taylor and Francis
  • 2008

Of the 200 largest organisations in the world, more than 80% currently have a corporate code of conduct. An ever larger number of smaller organisations also have a code or are in the process of developing one. While in the 1970s and 1980s companies had to explain why they had a code, today they are cross-examined if they don t have one. A company has to have very good arguments to convince stakeholders that they can do without a code.

A business code is a measure for success: success as manager, employee, team and for the organisation as a whole. Unfortunately, many codes are underutilised. And many simply fail, with serious repercussions for the organisation.

This short and accessible book presents a model to create, develop and embed business codes. The validated model enables managers and organisations to better manage their codes as well as their performance. The author articulates why a code of conduct is necessary, what it should cover, as well as demonstrating through practical tips and examples how to make full use of it. What is required to breathe life into a code and keep it that way? How can you live your code? Illustrated with results from an empirical study of the Fortune Global 200, the ideas developed are based on the worldwide experience of the consultancy firm KPMG. The author works in the field of developing, implementing and monitoring of codes, as well as conducting intensive academic research in the last 15 years in his capacity as (associate) professor of business ethics.

The Living Code is a unique book and will be essential reading for those that want to make a success of their code or are considering developing one. Readers will learn just how rich and threatening a code is and what it could mean for their organisation, their team and themselves.

About the Author

Muel Kaptein has been active as a consultant and scientific researcher in the field of business ethics, integrity and compliance management since the early 1990s. He assists profit and non-profit organisations in developing, implementing and monitoring their business codes. He has developed business codes for more than 40 organisations. He has also developed a questionnaire for measuring the ethics and integrity of organisations, the so-call ed Integrity Thermometer, which is used by many organisations around the world. Muel co-founded the Ethics and Integrity consultancy at KPMG The Netherlands in 1996. He is currently director at KPMG Forensic & Integrity in Amsterdam.

At the age of 32, he also became professor of business ethics and integrity management at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. He teaches courses in sustainability, leadership, corporate governance, management skills and business ethics. His research interests include the management of ethics, the ethics of management and the measurement of ethics. He has published scientific papers in international journals such as the Academy of Management Review, Business and Society, Corporate Governance, Corporate Reputation Review, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Organizational Behaviour and Organization Studies. He is the author of the books Ethics Management (Springer, 1998) and The Six Principles for Managing with Integrity (Articulate Press, 2005), and co-authored the book The Balanced Company: A Theory of Corporate Integrity (Oxford University Press, 2002). He is section-editor on codes of ethics for the Journal of Business Ethics and board member of the Erasmus Institute for Monitoring and Compliance.

In this Book

  • What Does a Code Say?
  • The Code Pyramid
  • Thou Shalt Have a Code
  • The Multifaceted Code
  • The Excellent Code
  • The Nightmare Code
  • The Code Star
  • Leadership, Leadership and Leadership Again
  • Measures and Activities to Keep a Code Alive
  • How Effective is Our Code?
  • Personal Accounts
  • Leadership Once More