Growth5 Blog

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Power, Knowledge and Duty

Paul Danos, Dean of the Tuck School Business at Dartmouth, speaking at Johns Hopkins last night, argued that there was no lapse of "personal ethics" among the business people, regulators, and government leaders connected with the current economic downturn. Instead, he said, they were "negligent" in three key areas: power, knowledge and duty. I couldn't resist asking him if that negligence wasn't an ethical issue.

Yes, he said. So we have to define ethics more broadly, he added. Little did I know I'd have a chance to try out his theory later that night. After his talk, we tried a new neighborhood Italian restaurant. They were very busy and we sat at our table for 45 minutes without even seeing a waiter. Finally, I found menus, scribbled our orders on them, and presented them to the hostess.

That got the owner's attention. He came to the table and apologized profusely (knowledge). He said he took such lapses of service personally (duty). And he gave us free appetizers and a bottle of wine to make up for it (power). I'm thinking of nominating him for Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

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