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Rationalization – Denial of Responsibility:

As the 1st installment in our series of posts dissecting each of the rationalization techniques found within The Business Ethics Field Guide, we will address Denial of Responsibility. Also called the agentic shift, denial of responsibility occurs when we place the responsibility of our own actions on someone (or something) else outside of our control.

A prime example of this technique in action occurred during Tonya Harding ice skating debacle. Harding is infamous for knowing about the clubbing of fellow figure skater Nancy Kerrigan before the 1994 Olympics and not coming forward with information beforehand. This poor ethical choice completely ruined Harding’s ice skating career, and even though she admits shame and embarrassment over the event, she has yet to ever take responsibility or apologize to Nancy Kerrigan for what happened.

Tonya Harding used the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her mother and ex-husband as a justification for not coming forward to the officials about her knowledge of the Kerrigan attack. Instead, she only saw herself as a victim. Although her story might be pitiable, it does not remove the fact that she had knowledge about the attack that she chose not to share.

To read more about Harding’s views on the issue click HERE.

A series of blog posts focusing on rationalization techniques will continue over the next several weeks. In the meantime, read more about them in The Business Ethics Field Guide (contact Merit Leadership to purchase a copy now).

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