Bernie & Co.

Bernie Madoff is in jail—and a lot of people would like to see executives from insurance giant AIG join him there. In this edition of Drucker Apps, you’ll find tools to better understand business ethics, the perils of economic booms, the limitations of the market, and how you can test your own values. These insights—at once timely and timeless—are based on the ideas and ideals of the late Peter F. Drucker, the father of modern management.

Is “business ethics” an oxymoron?

“The reason for this insistence on a code that considers only the individual, and not his status in life or society, is precisely that otherwise the mighty, the powerful, the successful will gain exemption from the laws of ethics and morality.”— Peter F. Drucker, The Ecological Vision

Why good times breed bad guys

“It’s easy to look good in a boom. But also, every boom—and I have lived and worked through four or five—puts crooks in at the top.”— Peter F. Drucker, The Daily Drucker

  • The perils of focusing on short-term results. Read more here.
  • Watch Peter Drucker discuss the anatomy of a scandal.

The missing ingredient: an ethic of responsibility. Read Rick Wartzman’s BusinessWeek column here.

Has the market reached its limit?

“We are surely not willing to abolish the regulations that protect the public against charlatans, against fraud, or against gross incompetence in matters affecting the public good. We therefore need to think through both what the market can do and what it cannot—and should not be expected to—do.”— Peter F. Drucker, Drucker on Asia

  • Did we expect too much from the market? Read more here.
  • Hear Charles Kolb, president of the Washington-based Committee for Economic Development, explore why it will take more than just sharp-eyed regulators to turn things around.

Do you pass the mirror test?

“Ethics requires that you ask yourself, what kind of person do I want to see in the morning?”— Peter F. Drucker, Classic Drucker

  • Why your mirror test is as important to your company as it is to you. Read more here.
  • Watch former eBay CEO Meg Whitman discuss the ethical yardsticks she used at the company.

For more from Drucker on personal behavior, click here.