Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Dubai, UAE, 27 July 2011 – In findings that have important implications for workplaces in the region and beyond, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business – in a joint study with Harvard Business School – has established that creative people are more likely to behave in an unethical manner. 

Although the study clarified that it is not compulsory that a creative person will cheat or lie, there is a link that trying to be innovative can make people think about ethical loopholes, thus establishing an important correlation between creativity and immorality. This dispositional creativity is a better predictor of unethical behavior than intelligence, driving people, for example, to inflate expense reports and steal office supplies.

Dan Ariely, Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business said: “This study is both interesting and alarming, since it suggests that people who work in roles involving creative thinking are more apt to develop ways to bypass moral rules and hence behave dishonestly.”

The researchers conducted five experiments, using between 71 and 111 people in each experiment, and found an association between out-of-the-box thinking and deceitful actions. This led them to the conclusion that most likely the cognitive skills that boost creativity in individuals simultaneously foster the ability to justify their underhand deeds. 

“Although creativity is a beneficial trait in employees, driving much business success, it has to be kept in check. Managers within organizations must not allow the negative consequences of creativity to thrive,” said Professor Ariely. 

In order to control  such tendencies in the workforce, organizations need to understand the limits of a creative work atmosphere. Managers can promote a work culture that rewards good conduct and create environmental cues that remind employees to be scrupulous.  Francesca Gino, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and co-author of the study, refers to the findings as "a first step in uncovering some of the potential dark consequences of being creative." 

About Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business is one of the world’s leading business schools, with #1 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek) and #2 (Financial Times) ranked faculty in the US. Shaped and driven by the fundamental issues of the 21st century, the school is committed to becoming the world’s first legitimately global business school, with study and research locations in China, India, Russia, the UK, the UAE, and North Carolina. Utilizing Duke’s cross-disciplinary intellectual resources, The Fuqua School of Business aims to produce globally competent and socially conscious business leaders. For more information about Fuqua’s degree and open enrolment executive education programs, please visit

About Duke University

Duke University consistently ranks among the world’s most prestigious schools. Duke’s graduate and professional schools — in business, divinity, engineering, the environment, law, medicine, nursing and public policy — are among the leaders in their fields.

Duke’s student body includes more than 13,000 students in its undergraduate, graduate and professional programs, and its world-class faculty is helping to expand the frontiers of knowledge. The university has a strong commitment to applying knowledge in service to society, both in the community around its North Carolina campus and around the world. For information about Duke University, please visit

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