Why Do Good People Do Bad Things?



  • How to identify and understand the rationalizations that support moral myopia and moral muteness
  • How to develop moral imagination  
  • How to give voice to your values and put them into action
  • How to play the role of organizational conscience.


"One way to avoid moral muteness obviously is to make a habit of talking about issues with people whom we trust.  When we raise concerns in the company, we can position ourself as someone who is trying to help the organization, to protect it from problems, rather than as someone who is out to judge or slap hands." Meme Drumwright, Associate Professor, College of Communication

When: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 | 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m

Where: AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, Room 203

Cost: $20 per person. Includes box lunch.

Parking: Garage parking is available at the AT&T Conference Center and surrounding public parking lots.

Cosponsors: Texas Governor's Commission for Women and AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center

REGISTER  Seating is limited.

Why do good people do bad things?  That is, how do well intended people—people who pledged to abide by honor codes in college and ethics codes in the workplace--make bad decisions and get caught up in ethical problems and even scandals. There are no two ways about it. Having integrity can be difficult even for people with good intentions who want to do the right thing. 

Meme Drumwright has written about two reasons that people have ethical lapses—moral myopia and moral muteness. Moral myopia is a distortion of moral vision that keeps moral issues from coming clearly into focus. People with moral muteness just don’t talk about moral issues. They either don’t voice moral sentiments or they communicate in ways that obscure their moral beliefs and commitments.Moral Myopia

How is it that this blindness and muteness exist? How can smart people miss these things that should be so apparent? Drawing on her research and the research of others, Drumwright will explain how good people develop moral myopia and moral muteness. She will illustrate these concepts using short films that are part of a dynamic new McCombs initiative—Ethics Unwrapped.

Drumwright will also talk about how business people can develop moral sensitivity and moral imagination—the ability to think outside the box and see ethical alternatives that others do not see. These people can serve as an “organizational conscience.”

Minette (Meme) Drumwright is an associate professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations in the College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin. Since 2002, Drumwright has been faculty chair of the Bridging Disciplines Program in Ethics and Leadership.​

Her current research involves studies of social responsibility in business, particularly in marketing and advertising. Her research interests also include services marketing, marketing strategy and business ethics. She has written articles and cases for various books and journals, including Journal of Marketing and Marketing Letters. She has won two school-wide teaching awards at UT Austin for her MBA course on services marketing.

Outside the university, she has taught in corporate executive education programs in Mexico, Europe and Asia as well as in the U.S. In between her undergraduate and graduate degrees, she worked in advertising and public relations for seven years.

She previously was an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School and a senior lecturer in marketing for UT's McCombs School of Business.





About The Author

Gayle Hight

Special Projects Marketing Manager, aka Texas Enterprise's "The Connector", McCombs School of Business

With a BS and MBA degrees from UT Austin, and on McCombs' staff for the past 18 years, Gayle knows UT. She is staff writer and special events...

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