“Developing thinking tools for the moral quest of professionals”
Edgar Karssing has been appointed Professor of Philosophy, Professional Ethics and Integrity Management at Nyenrode Business University. From this chair, Karssing looks at professional ethics and integrity management from a philosophical framework. He focuses his research on strengthening the moral competence of professionals, stimulating a moral compass for commercial society and setting up a social infrastructure.
Karssing on his chair: "I see ethics and integrity as a quest and a continuous learning process. Professionals who understand that these disciplines are an essential part of their profession have an eye for moral frameworks in their daily work. Philosophical reflection helps them with thinking tools. I like to be inspired by Adam Smith, moral philosopher and economist from the Enlightenment, who lived from 1723 to 1790. I use his work ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments’ as the starting point of my chair. The research questions I will be working with include how moral judgement works according to Smith and how to strengthen this theory using contemporary insights from philosophical ethics and behavioral sciences. I also look at how professionals can use this updated theory to strengthen their moral judgement."
The next thing Edgar Karssing highlights in respect of his chair is the tension between morality and the possible perversion of a commercial society: “Adam Smith saw the negative excesses of a commercial society and sought solutions to these in order to nevertheless enjoy the benefits such as prosperity and freedom. Smith's ideal was a society in which we live together peacefully and cooperate fruitfully, despite human shortcomings. Human nature is morally ambivalent, with many shades existing between good and evil. From this starting point, my research focuses on a philosophical-critical consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of market society. I examine the minimum moral compass required for 'morally imperfect people.' In doing so, I also look explicitly at organizations."
The Chair of Philosophy, Professional Ethics and Integrity Management has a long tradition. Nyenrode was the first university in Europe to have a chair in business ethics back as early as 1984. It’s no coincidence that the mission statement of Nyenrode is: “Serving society by shaping responsible leaders.” Long-term value creation for all stakeholders and helping people make responsible choices underpin the university's activities. The current Nyenrode degree and executive programs include lectures on ethics and integrity. Professional philosophy was introduced recently as a subject for accountants. In addition, in-company programs train and advise people within organizations on the entire integrity policy or parts of it. This is done by coaching, training and guiding all people who play a role in the integrity policy. These include directors, management, integrity officers, confidential counsellors, compliance officers and HRM staff. Nyenrode helps a variety of organizations and professional groups that have to deal with integrity and ethics in finding solutions to their issues.
Edgar Karssing has (co-)written and edited more than 20 books and published more than 200 articles and chapters in journals and books in the fields of philosophy, professional ethics and integrity management. Well-known titles of his book are “Integriteit in de beroepspraktijk” (2006), “De oplossing is het probleem niet. Reflecties op ethiek, integriteit en compliance” (2011), and “Als de oplossing het probleem is. Compliance met een moreel kompas.” (2018). He obtained his Master's degree from the University of Groningen in both Economics and Philosophy. He has participated in teaching (business ethics) and research (quality of life) at Erasmus University Rotterdam and in teaching (business ethics and management philosophy) at the University of Groningen. He did doctoral research on integrity in theory and practice. He is a regular contributor to the “Tijdschrift voor Compliance” . Edgar won the National Compliance Award 2010.