Obedience and evil: from Milgram and Kampuchea to normal organizations

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Obedience: a simple term. Stanley Milgram, the famous experimental social psychologist, shocked the world with theory about it. Another man, Pol Pot, the infamous leader of the Khmer Rouge, showed how far the desire for obedience could go in human societies. Milgram conducted his experiments in the controlled environment of the US psychology laboratory of the 1960s. Pol Pot experimented with Utopia in the totalitarian Kampuchea of the 1970s. In this article, we discuss the process through which the Khmer Rouge regime created an army of unquestioningly obedient soldiers - including child soldiers. Based on these two cases, we advance a framework on how obedience can be grown or countered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-309
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


  • children soldiers
  • Khmer Rouge
  • obedience
  • organized violence
  • Pol Pot


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