Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Political Science and Law

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Barbara Nagle

Committee Member

Jack Baldwin LeClair

Committee Member

Avram Segall


This thesis explores the hypothesis that ethics training for corporate personnel will significantly increase ethical behavior and thereby significantly reduce the incidence of corporate malfeasance.

For over 100 years the federal government has been trying to curb malfeasance by managers of public corporations and their boards of directors. This thesis examines the history of that legislation and those regulatory efforts, concluding that these legislative and regulatory attempts have met with varying degrees of success, but, on balance, that success has been transitory at best. It also comes to the conclusion that corporate training programs in ethics, in the absence of strong corporate leadership, have not had a significant impact on improving corporate governance.

Since laws, regulations and ethics training have been only moderately effective, the thesis looks to possible alternatives to provide improved corporate character, and shows that character education at the K through 12 level, when properly presented and strongly supported, has had a demonstrably positive effect on character at that level. Extrapolating to the effects in adulthood, the thesis posits that such a program could make a difference to future corporate character, which could arguably result in more ethical and improved corporate governance.

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