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The Libor rate fixing scandal prompted me to think about issues around the effectiveness of compliance roles and in particular why they should fail.  Whilst much attention has been focused on the alleged perpetrators, what of those charged with the  duty of compliance?

One interesting question arises about those in roles that are actively engaged in moral issues, does there work promote moral behavior?

It is reasonable to expect that cognition about morality promotes moral behavior. However, two studies examined the rates at which ethics books went missing from academic libraries (contrasting these books with other philosophy books similar in age and popularity).

Perhaps unsurprisingly;

Study 1 found that relatively obscure, contemporary ethics books of the sort likely to be borrowed mainly by professors and advanced students of philosophy were actually about 50% more likely to be missing than non-ethics books.

Study 2 found that classic (pre-1900) ethics books were about twice as likely to be missing.

The results speak for themselves, but these studies pose some interesting questions about the efficiency of the burden employers (or society) “might” expect of those burdened with keeping our moral conscious, such as compliance, the Police, Judiciary etc.

For more on these studies read: E Schwitzgebel “RUNNING HEAD: Do Ethicists Steal More Books?” (University of California, 2009), available online