The “Right Way”: Moral Capitalism and the Emergence of the Corporate Ethics and Compliance Officer

  • Steven Sampson
Keywords: Morality, Business Ethics, Compliance, Moral Capitalism


Under the influence of U.S. government regulations, enforcement of anti-bribery laws and embarrassing corruption scandals, major global corporations have realized that unethical conduct may affect not only their reputations but also their profits. This development has given rise to a new position within the traditional management team: the ethics and compliance officer (who differs from the established corporate social responsibility function). Based on field research in the compliance industry, this article describes how the moralization of firms has led to the emergence of a new corporate function: the ethics and compliance officer. It further describes how ethics and compliance officers learn their craft and how they cope with their role as moral compass of firms that need to compete in a global market where ethics may be viewed as a cost that inhibits profitability.