Wieke Scholten: "Banking on Team Ethics: A team climate perspective on root causes of misconduct in financial services"

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Wieke Scholten: "Banking on Team Ethics: A team climate perspective on root causes of misconduct in financial services"

On March 29, 2018 Wieke Scholten successfully defended the PhD thesis entitled "Banking on Team Ethics: A team climate perspective on root causes of misconduct in financial services" at Leiden University.

Prof.dr. Naomi Ellemers


This book provides insights and tools for managers and in- and external supervisors within financial services that help to define and assess team climates in order to prevent future misconduct. There is by now broad consensus that cultural and behavioural changes are needed in banking in order to prevent future unethical behaviour. Applying social psychological insights about team conditions that invite unethical behaviour at work, can help understand and improve current work practices in financial services.
There is much to win by addressing dysfunctional team practices, as a way to prevent future misconduct. I argue that the current response to misconduct from banks and financial supervisors is insufficiently effective and that team climates are a blind spot for banks and financial supervisors. In this book I aimed to provide a practical approach to analyse team climate as an internal or external supervisor. I present the ‘Corrupting Barrels’ model that can be used to characterize teams within the same organization on the three ‘aspects that facilitate unethical behaviour: ineffective error approach, outcome inequality and dysfunctional moral climate. By combining desk research, team observations, and interviews in a deep dive review, it is possible to effectively define team climates, identify meaningful differences in these team climate characteristics that are known precursors of organizational misbehavior. The Corrupting Barrels survey that is a less labour intensive way to provide a first impression of team climate characteristics. Although the use of the survey for my analysis revealed that the instrument can be perfected and its predictive value needs improvement, the first step in developing and conducting the survey is taken successfully. So, the data I presented from the deep dive review and survey attest to the validity of my analysis and suggests possible ways of taking up a practical approach in preventing misconduct by defining and assessing team climates.
The analysis provided is based on data gathered while the author worked as a senior supervisory officer of behavior and culture in the financial industry (at the Dutch central bank, DNB) and provides illustrative examples (quotes) from interviews with board members, senior managers and traders within large European banks.

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