Background Note | HBS Case Collection | May 1990 (Revised April 1991)

Dirty Hands

by Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.


A one-paragraph excerpt from a play by Jean-Paul Sartre. Describes in the words of one character, the ethical problem of "dirty hands": the problem that doing the morally superior thing in some circumstances inevitably involves doing some things that are morally wrong. This excerpt is for use as a supplement to cases in which the "dirty hands" problem arises.

Keywords: Moral Sensibility; Management; Problems and Challenges; Personal Characteristics; Value;


Badaracco, Joseph L., Jr. "Dirty Hands." Harvard Business School Background Note 390-213, May 1990. (Revised April 1991.)