Diana C. Robertson

Diana C. Robertson
  • Samuel A. Blank Professor in Legal Studies, Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics
  • Vice Dean and Director, Wharton Undergraduate Division

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    671 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    3730 Walnut Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: business ethics, corporate social responsibility, neuroscience and ethics

Links: CV

Overview

Education

PhD, UCLA; MA, UCLA; BA, Northwestern University

Academic Positions

2008-present Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, 2009-present Co-Director, Wharton Ethics Program,     2007-2008 Visiting Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, Wharton; 2004-2007 Professor of Organization and Management,  1998-2004 Associate Professor of Organization and Management, Goizueta Business School, Emory University; 1997-1998 Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior,1994-1997 Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior, London Business School.

Research and Teaching

Diana’s research centers on business ethics and corporate social responsibility.  At present she is conducting research using neuroimaging technology to identify neural activations in the brain associated with sensitivity to moral issues. Diana’s work has been published in Management Science, Journal of Marketing Research, Organization Science, Human Relations, The Journal of International Business Studies, Sloan Management Review, Journal of Business Ethics, Business Ethics Quarterly, Journal of Marketing, and Neuropsychologia.

Diana received the Albert E. Levy Scientific Research Award at Emory University and has been a finalist for the Journal of Marketing Harold H. Maynard Award. Diana has received Excellence in Teaching Awards at Wharton and Emory University.

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Research

  • Yu Pan, Fujun Lai, Zhuo Fang, Sihua Xu, Li Gao, Diana C. Robertson, Hengyi Rao (2018), Risk Choice and Emotional Experience: A Multi-level Comparison between Active and Passive Decision-making, Journal of Risk Research.

  • Diana C. Robertson and Philip M. Nichols, Bribery and the Study of Decision Making. In Thinking About Bribery: Neuroscience, Moral Cognition and the Psychology of Bribery, edited by Philip M. Nichols & Diana C. Robertson, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 1-30

    Abstract: This chapter introduces a book about bribery. More precisely, the book is about how people think about offering or accepting a bribe. Bribery is an iteration of corruption, and corruption shapes the modern world. Some governments exist because of it, some will collapse under its weight. Corruption mobilizes the protests and motivates the opposition of millions, while millions more suffer its inequities. Corruption distorts the flow of the world’s resources and its capital, and renders markets dysfunctional. It is virtually impossible to turn to a news outlet without encountering stories of corruption or popular reaction to corruption. It certainly is impossible to understand the world today without taking corruption into account. This book offers a new way to think about bribery. This book explores the fundamental question of why individuals offer or accept bribes. The book approaches this question from the perspective of recent scholarship in multiple disciplines, including cognitive neuroscience, behavioral ethics, and psychology. Much of the research that has been conducted on bribery investigates the antecedent conditions of bribery in a particular country or culture, the nature and forms of bribery, and the impact of bribery on a country’s economy.  Very little research looks at bribery from the point of view of the individual faced with the decision to bribe. This book starts to fill that gap.

  • Philip M. Nichols and Diana C. Robertson, Thoughts on the Control of Bribery. In Thinking About Bribery: Neuroscience, Moral Cognition and the Psychology of Bribery, edited by Philip M. Nichols & Diana C. Robertson, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 239-265

    Abstract: This chapter ties together the entries in an edited book on what the sciences of the mind reveal about bribery. The chapters in this book apply several different sciences of the mind to the consideration by an individual whether to pay or accept a bribe. The notion that an individual thinks about the payment or acceptance of a bribe is not new; it was suggested by rational choice theorists many years ago. The contributions made by the chapters in this book, however, test and challenge the assumptions made by rational choice theories, and offer new models to describe the complexity of thought surrounding bribery. These contributions could have immediate application in attempts to control bribery. Bribery inflicts tremendous damage on the world; understandably, the social and political landscapes are replete with programs attempting to control corruption. While many of these programs recognize that attitudes toward and thinking about bribery must change, few if any are grounded in a real understanding of how people think about the payment or acceptance of bribes. This chapter reviews the contributions made in this book, and shows how they could be used to improve or create programs to control bribery.

  • Philip M. Nichols and Diana C. Robertson (Eds.), Thinking About Bribery: Neuroscience, Moral Cognition, and Psychology of Bribery (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

  • Zhuo Fang, Wi Hoon Jung, Marc Korczykowski, Lijuan Luo, Kristin Prehn, Sihua Xu, John A. Detre, Joseph W. Kable, Diana C. Robertson, Hengyi Rao (2017), Post-conventional moral reasoning is associated with increased ventral striatal activity at rest and during task, Scientific Reports.

  • Diana C. Robertson, Christian Voegtlin, Thomas Maak (2016), Business Ethics: The Promise of Neuroscience, Journal of Business Ethics.

    Abstract: Abstract: Recent advances in cognitive neuroscience research portend well for furthering understanding of many of the fundamental questions in the field of business ethics, both normative and empirical. This article provides an overview of neuroscience methodology and brain structures, and explores the areas in which neuroscience research has contributed findings of value to business ethics, as well as suggesting areas for future research. Neuroscience research is especially capable of providing insight into individual reactions to ethical issues, while also raising challenging normative questions about the nature of moral responsibility, autonomy, intent, and free will. This article also provides a brief summary of the papers included in this special issue, attesting to the richness of scholarly inquiry linking neuroscience and business ethics. We conclude that neuroscience offers considerable promise to the field of business ethics, but we caution against overpromise.  

  • Wi Hoon Jung, Kristin Prehn, Zhuo Fang, Marc Korczykowski, Joseph W. Kable, Hengyi Rao, Diana C. Robertson (2016), Moral Competence and Brain Connectivity: A Resting-State fMRI Study, NeuroImage, 141, pp. 408-415.

    Abstract: Abstract Moral competence (MC) refers to the ability to apply certain moral orientations in a consistent and differentiated manner when judging moral issues. People greatly differ in terms of MC, however, little is known about how these differences are implemented in the brain. To investigate this question, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging and examined resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) in n=31 individuals with MC scores in the highest 15% of the population and n=33 individuals with MC scores in the lowest 15%, selected from a large sample of 730 Master of Business Administration (MBA) students. Compared to individuals with lower MC, individuals with higher MC showed greater amygdala-ventromedial prefrontal connectivity, which may reflect better ability to cope with emotional conflicts elicited by moral dilemmas. Moreover, individuals with higher MC showed less inter-network connectivity between the amygdalar and fronto-parietal networks, suggesting a more independent operation of these networks. Our findings provide novel insights into how individual differences in moral judgment are associated with RSFC in brain circuits related to emotion processing and cognitive control. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

  • Kristin Prehn, Marc Korczykowski, Joseph W. Kable, Hengyi Rao, Diana C. Robertson (2015), Neural Correlates of Post-Conventional Moral Reasoning: A Voxel-Based Morphometry Study,.

    Abstract: Abstract Going back to Kohlberg, moral development research affirms that people progress through different stages of moral reasoning as cognitive abilities mature. Individuals at a lower level of moral reasoning judge moral issues mainly based on self-interest (personal interests schema) or based on adherence to laws and rules (maintaining norms schema), whereas individuals at the post-conventional level judge moral issues based on deeper principles and shared ideals. However, the extent to which moral development is reflected in structural brain architecture remains unknown. To investigate this question, we used voxel-based morphometry and examined the brain structure in a sample of 67 Master of Business Administration (MBA) students. Subjects completed the Defining Issues Test (DIT-2) which measures moral development in terms of cognitive schema preference. Results demonstrate that subjects at the post-conventional level of moral reasoning were characterized by increased gray matter volume in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex, compared with subjects at a lower level of moral reasoning. Our findings support an important role for both cognitive and emotional processes in moral reasoning and provide first evidence for individual differences in brain structure according to the stages of moral reasoning first proposed by Kohlberg decades ago.

  • Sandy Jap, Diana C. Robertson, Aric Rindfleisch, Ryan Hamilton (Forthcoming), Low-Stakes Opportunism, Journal of Marketing Research.

  • Roderick Gilkey, Ricardo Caceda, Andrew Bate, Diana C. Robertson, Clint Kilts, “Using the whole brain to improve strategic reasoning”. In NeuroLeadership Institute Text, edited by Roderick Gilkey, Ricardo Caceda, Andrew Bate, Clint Kilts, (2013)

Teaching

Current Courses

  • WH 101 - Business And You

    WH 101 is the first step of the Leadership Journey at Wharton. The course is designed to fuel students' unique interests in academic, research, and professional pursuits; to raise awareness of the complexity of business; and to increase understanding of the interrelatedness of business disciplines. Students will also acquire greater awareness of their strengths and leadership potential as members of the Wharton community and as future professionals. Students will come to appreciate that leadership is an act and best developed through study, feedback from trusted colleagues and peers, and stretch experiences that stimulate growth and development. Students will also begin to hone skills essential to the pursuit of personal, academic, and professional goals: thinking creatively, analyzing problems, applying what you have learned, and reflecting on learnings. A case-analysis project will engage students with the community through helping local agencies examine business challenges that they face. This course is for Wharton students only.

    WH 101001 ( Syllabus )

    WH 101002 ( Syllabus )

    WH 101003 ( Syllabus )

Past Courses

  • LGST100 - ETHICS & SOCIAL RESP

    This course explores business responsibility from rival theoretical and managerial perspectives. Its focus includes theories of ethics and their application to case studies in business. Topics include moral issues in advertising and sales; hiring and promotion; financial management; corporate pollution; product safety; and decision-making across borders and cultures.

  • LGST220 - INT'L BUSINESS ETHICS

    This course is a multidisciplinary, interactive study of business ethics within a global economy. A central aim of the course is to enable students to develop a framework to address ethical challenges as they arise within and across different countries. Alternative theories about acting ethically in global environments are presented, and critical current issues are introduced and analyzed. Examples include bribery, global sourcing, environmental sustainability, social reports, intellectual property, e-commerce, and dealing with conflicting standards and values across cultures. As part of this study, the course considers non-Western ethical traditions and practices as they relate to business.

  • LGST299 - SEMINAR IN LAW & SOCIETY

    A study of the nature, functions, and limits of law as an agency of societal policy. Each semester an area of substantive law is studied for the purpose of examining the relationship between legal norms developed and developing in the area and societal problems and needs.

  • LGST799 - SEMINAR IN LAW & SOCIETY

    A study of the nature, functions, and limits of law as an agency of societal policy. Each semester an area of substantive law is studied for the purpose of examining the relationship between legal norms developed and developing in the area and societal problems and needs.

  • LGST820 - INT'L BUSINESS ETHICS

    This course is a multidisciplinary, interactive study of business ethics within a global economy. A central aim of the course is to enable students to develop a framework to address ethical challenges as they arise within and across different countries. Alternative theories about acting ethically in global environments are presented, and critical current issues are introduced and analyzed. Examples include bribery, global sourcing, environmental sustainability, social reports, intellectual property, e-commerce, and dealing with conflicting standards and values across cultures. As part of this study, the course considers non-Western ethical traditions and practices as they relate to business.

  • LGST920 - ETHICS IN BUS & ECON

    The seminar explores the growing academic literature in business ethics. It also provides participants an opportunity to investigate an ethical issue of their choosing in some depth, using their field of specialty as context. The seminar assumes no previous exposure to business ethics. Different business ethics theories and frameworks for investigating issues will be discussed, including corporate social responsibility, corporate moral agency, theories of values, and corporate governance. In turn, these theories will be applied to a range of issues, both domestic and international. Such issues include: corruption in host countries, the management of values in modern corporations, the ethical status of the corporation, ethics in sophisticated financial transactions (such as leveraged derivative transactions), and gender discrimination in the context of cultural differences. Literature not only from business ethics, but from professional and applied ethics, law, and organizational behavior will be discussed. Often, guest speakers will address the seminar. At the discretion of the class, special topics of interest to the class will be examined. Students will be expected to write and present a major paper dealing with a current issue within their major field. The course is open to students across fields, and provides integration of ideas across multiple business disciplines.

  • WH 101 - BUSINESS AND YOU

    WH 101 is the first step of the Leadership Journey at Wharton. The course is designed to fuel students' unique interests in academic, research, and professional pursuits; to raise awareness of the complexity of business; and to increase understanding of the interrelatedness of business disciplines. Students will also acquire greater awareness of their strengths and leadership potential as members of the Wharton community and as future professionals. Students will come to appreciate that leadership is an act and best developed through study, feedback from trusted colleagues and peers, and stretch experiences that stimulate growth and development. Students will also begin to hone skills essential to the pursuit of personal, academic, and professional goals: thinking creatively, analyzing problems, applying what you have learned, and reflecting on learnings. A case-analysis project will engage students with the community through helping local agencies examine business challenges that they face. This course is for Wharton students only.

Awards and Honors

  • 2018 Poets and Quants for Undergrads, 2018 Description

    2018 Top 50 Undergraduate Professors: Diana Robertson, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

  • 2018 Excellence in Teaching Award, Undergraduate Division, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 2018
  • 2016 Excellence in Teaching Award, Undergraduate Division, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 2016
  • 2014 Rapaport Family Excellence in Teaching Award, Undergraduate Division, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 2014
  • 2014 Wharton Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2014
  • 2013 Excellence in Teaching Award, Undergraduate Division, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 2013
  • 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award, Undergraduate Division, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 2012
  • 2011 Journal of Business Ethics Distinguished Article Award, 2011
  • 2010 Excellence in Teaching Award, MBA Program, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 2010
  • 2007 Albert E. Levy Scientific Research Award, Emory University, 2007
  • 2003 Emory Williams Distinguished Teaching Award, Emory University (University-wide), 2003

Activity

Latest Research

Yu Pan, Fujun Lai, Zhuo Fang, Sihua Xu, Li Gao, Diana C. Robertson, Hengyi Rao (2018), Risk Choice and Emotional Experience: A Multi-level Comparison between Active and Passive Decision-making, Journal of Risk Research.
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In the News

The New Philanthropists: More Sophisticated, More Demanding — and Younger

Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie once said that he who dies leaving behind many millions will "pass away unwept, unhonored and unsung." That philosophy took root in much of the last century, with major philanthropists giving vast fortunes in their later years to institutions devoted to the public good. But donors today aren't taking any chances. They are integrating the practice of philanthropy into their education and flexing philanthropic muscle at a younger age than their predecessors.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2013/04/24
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