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Robert Prentice - The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business. Austin, TX, US

Robert Prentice Robert Prentice

Department Chair and Professor, Department of Business, Government & Society and BHP Director | The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business


Ethics, business and public policy, securities fraud, and corporate law


Areas of Expertise (10)

Behavioral Ethics Business Ethics Corporate Law Securities Law and Ethics Accounting Regulation Securities Fraud Business & Public Policy Corporate Governance Sarbanes-Oxley Energy Markets


Robert A. Prentice is an educator and lawyer with a focus on business law, securities regulation, and ethical decision making. He is a published expert on securities fraud, insider trading, the value of securities regulation and the legal liability of accountants.

Prentice is the founding chair of the Business, Government and Society department, and is the Ed & Molly Smith Professor of Business Law at the McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin.

Prentice has won numerous teaching awards and is a member of UT's Academy of Distinguished Teachers. He has published more than 60 major law review articles on such topics as securities law litigation, tender offers, insider trading, securities regulation and the Internet, accountants' legal liability, and products liability.

He is the founder and director of the Ethics Unwrapped Video Series and Educational Program, a 48-video online learning library with teaching notes which is used to teach behavioral ethics at more than 130 colleges in 170 countries.



Robert Prentice Publication Robert Prentice Publication Robert Prentice Publication Robert Prentice Publication



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Dr. Robert Prentice Examines Research on Ethical Decision Making Robert Prentice at the Alumni Business Conference How business ethics scandals have affected campaigning Ethical Fading In It To Win: Jack & Rationalizations


Education (2)

Washburn University: J.D., Law

University of Kansas: B.A., Undergraduate Studies

Media Appearances (14)

Op-Ed: Help Harvey victims. Don’t bring up climate change now

Austin American-Statesman  online


Humans love to be right and hate being wrong. They go through life looking for evidence that what they already believe is correct and shunting to the side evidence that contradicts their current beliefs. In other words, humans are motivated reasoners.

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Op-Ed: Robert Prentice, Texas Perspectives: Trump circle dismissive of simple ethics

Waco Tribune-Herald  online


President Donald Trump administration’s utter indifference to the ethical implications of its actions is unprecedented.

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The United Debacle Shows What Business Schools Are Missing

Money Health Finance  online


The video of physician David Dao being dragged down the aisle of a United Airlines plane, along with recent scandals engulfing Fox News, Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, Theranos, and other firms, highlight the importance of teaching business ethics and law effectively.

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Robert Prentice: Trump takes lying to a new level

Times Herald  online


Hillary Clinton lied. It’s one of the reasons she’s not president today. Of course, I lie too. And so do you. Probably yesterday, in fact. And probably again tomorrow.

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Honors Programs Go Extra Mile to Draw Top Students

Poets and Quants  online


McCombs’ Business Honors Program is one of the harder programs to get into on campus, says Robert Prentice, the program’s faculty director, noting that the admissions committee will often turn down valedictorians in favor of top students with more leadership experience. This year, 1,700 students applied to the program and 240 were admitted, of whom about 122 accepted a spot.

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New Texas Oil Regulator Steps Down From Oil Firm

Fuel Fix  online


Robert Prentice comments on state commissioner putting his assets into a blind trust to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

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How Ethical Are You? Put Your Decision-Making Skills to the Test

UT News online  online


Professor Robert Prentice put together an ethics quiz to determine just how ethical you actually are.

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Everyday Ethics

Know  online


“The big picture is that everybody tends to think of themselves as good people with the confidence they’ll make ethical decisions. But we aren’t realistic about the pressures we face."

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McCombs School of Business Launches Free ‘Ethics Unwrapped’ Series of Teaching Videos

The University of Texas at Austin  online


"Today’s global marketplace is more competitive, more transparent, more culturally and politically diverse, and more fluid than ever before,” said Prentice.

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Expert FAQ: Why Insider Trading Hurts Us, and How We Can Fix It

NerdWallet  online


Robert Prentice argues that limited government resources need to be harnessed to implement Dodd-Frank and investigate the subprime mortgage crisis.

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Castro Seeking Ethics Changes

San Antonio Express News  print


Robert Prentice evaluates proposed additions to city's ethics code.

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Abramoff Gave Perspective to UT Business Students

Austin American-Statesman  print


Robert Prentice op-ed. "When judging others' actions, we assume they do bad things because they are bad people. We emphasize the influence of their character and give too little weight to the situational factors that may have affected their poor decisions."

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The Curious Case of Nelson Obus

The New York Times  print


Prentice explains an insider trading investigation against a Wall Street hedge fund manager.

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Insider Trading Probe Aims at Hedge Funds That Pay For Information

Austin American-Statesman  print


Robert Prentice comments on federal charges of insider trading lodged against a New York hedge fund.

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Sample Talks (1)

Prentice Examines Roots of Ethical Decision Making

Recent studies suggest that most people innately believe they are more skilled, ethical and generous than their colleagues—a tendency Prentice said can cause some people to venture into murky moral territory. In a business context, ethical dilemmas may emerge when a person’s self-image is inflated to a point that he or she feels entitled to cut corners. “Under certain circumstances, we give ourselves license to play a little faster and looser than we normally would,” Prentice says. “And we don’t realize how much the last decision we made can affect the next decisions we make.”


  • Keynote
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  • Corporate Training

Articles (10)

Robert A. Prentice Citations Google Scholar

Listing of top scholarly works by Robert A. Prentice.

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Barriers to Achieving 'Credible Challenge' RMA Journal


Conflict is one of the key ingredients in searching for the truth, reaching the right conclusions, and making the best decisions.

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Behavioral Ethics and Teaching Ethical Decision Making Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education


Business education often renders students less likely to act ethically. An infusion of liberal learning in the form of behavioral ethics could improve this situation by prompting students to develop higher levels of professionalism that encompass ethics, social responsibility, self-critical reflection, and personal accountability.

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Behavioral Ethics: Can It Help Lawyers (And Others) Be Their Best Selves Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy


This article surveys a significant portion of the new learning in behavioral ethics in support of the claim that by teaching behavioral ethics we have a realistic chance to improve the ethicality of human decision making and actions.

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The Transformation of American Energy Markets and the Problem of Market Power Boston College Law Review


The securities model may be a bad fit for energy markets. In this Article,
we explore the origins of these “bad fit” problems, and examine their implications for the future of American energy markets.

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The Inevitability of a Strong SEC Cornell Law Review


A familiar cycle has occurred in US securities regulation over the past few years: Loose regulation allows for scandal, which then creates a political atmosphere supportive of aggressive regulation, followed by a backlash by those regulated.

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Whither securities regulation? Some behavioral observations regarding proposals for its future Duke Law Journal


Respected commentators have floated several proposals for startling reforms of America's seventy-year-old securities regulation scheme.

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A Normality Bias in Legal Decision Making Cornell Law Review


It is important to understand how legal fact finders determine causa- tion and assign blame. However, this process is poorly understood.

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Enron: A brief behavioral autopsy American Business Law Journal


Examination of behavioral ethics through the lens of the Enron (Global Crossing/WorldCom/etc.) corporate corruption scandal.

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The Case of the Irrational Auditor: A Behavioural Insight into Securities Fraud Litigation Northwestern University Law Review


Are accounting firms "rational economic actors" in all cases? Behavioral research has undermined this foundational assumption.

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