Traditional discussions of morality have often focused on dichotomies of good and bad, virtuous and evil, right and wrong. This polarized thinking simplifies the world into opposing absolutes. In this view, all people and all conduct stand on one side or other of an imaginary line. Bad people are responsible for all evil actions and wrong decisions, whereas good people should always be expected to behave in a virtuous manner and to make the right choices. This views resigns any hope of someone who is judged “bad” making positive contributions to the world or being expected to have integrity; these people must be controlled against, excluded, and blamed when events take the wrong turn. Good people, on the other hand, are subject to straying from their presumably natural interest in behaving with integrity and must be prevented from doing so and punished if this ever happens, followed by being re-judged as bad if they do not respond to punitive and remedial treatment.
The limiting and unrealistic expectations of such a system are clear. In practice, this retrograde view can have chilling effect on a truly progressive understanding of organizational integrity and dynamics or any true restorative justice for individuals. Unfortunately, rules-based systems tend to produce these polarized, inflexible views. Mandatory compliance with its roles and responsibilities and reliance on policies and procedures can have such an outcome. Of course, the law, internal requirements, and regulatory expectations often do follow a bright line and so adherence to these expectations is as straightforward as a yes or a no. However, this strict structure must be supported by a more dynamic and realistic system of values and principles. Only then can the culture of compliance reflect the true nature of people and their choices and actions, which all much more complex than a choice between two contrasting modes.