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Ernest O’Boyle

Learning "Right" from Researching "Wrong"

Dr. Ernest O'Boyle teaches business ethics at Longwood University's College of Business and Economics, but you might call him an expert in unethical business decisions.

He is a prolific researcher in the field of counterproductive workplace behaviors.

From stealing money from the cash register to intentional fouls in the NBA, O'Boyle has looked at various jobs, their environments, and the reasons why some workers misbehave while they're on the clock.

His studies have appeared in top organizational and management journals, including Personnel Psychology, Journal of Business Ethics, Human Resource Management Review and others.

"Some say the reason people lie, cheat and steal is that they're bad people," says Dr. O'Boyle. "Most often, that's not the case. It's the environment that drives bad behavior at work. In other words, people steal money from the cash register because they see other people doing it."

O'Boyle's research strengthens his teaching because it gives him detailed insight to the factors and scenarios that influence how decisions are made in the workplace - good and bad. (O'Boyle's next study focuses on "citizenship behaviors," which are the opposite of counterproductive behaviors.) It's expertise that creates spirited classroom discussions about right and wrong in business.

"Small classes allow us to really dig in on ethical issues and students' positions on them," says Dr. O'Boyle. "Debates get quite heated, but students leave understanding that workplace culture plays a huge role in a business's success."

Business ethics is a required course for all business majors at Longwood.

Learn more about the College of Business and Economics