Ethics, Leadership, and ABA

By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA

Brett DiNovi & Associates

“Does capitalism and concern for business trump ethical and moral considerations?  It shouldn’t. Ethics should come first.  Capitalism has to come second.  That’s what our field is about.  We’re about helping people.” – Jon Bailey

That quote from Dr. Jon Bailey, a world renowned behavior analyst and expert in Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), captures an essential conflict inherent in clinical service provision – the tension between people and profits.  Helping people is at the core of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) – a science built on behavior change.  But helping people is done within a business context – an ABA service provider – that enables behavior analysts to earn a living using ABA to improve the lives of those with whom they serve.   

If not handled carefully, the balance between people and profits can skew towards the latter at the expense of the former.  The Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts was created, in part, to help ensure a healthy balance – that people are served through business models that enable quality service delivery

“Bureaucracy is the death of all sound work.” – Albert Einstein, as quoted from Brett DiNovi

While Captialism might come second, it is a close second.  Brett DiNovi, quoting Albert Einstein above, touches on the business side of ABA service delivery.  Put simply, effective business practices are a prerequisite for effective service delivery.  The business forms the larger context that occasions service delivery.  From an OBM perspective, behavior analysts are called upon to run their operations in an efficient, effective, and responsive manner.  Doing so ultimately ensures quality service delivery to those who matter most – our clients. 

To hear more on Ethics and Leadership in ABA, check out this video and consider purchasing the full recorded event for CEUs.  Also be sure to subscribe to Brett DiNovi’s YouTube channel and let him know what you would like to see in future videos.  Lastly, be sure to subscribe to bSci21 to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!


Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world,  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, bSciStudios and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at [email protected]


Brett DinoviBrett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA has the unique and distinguished experience of studying the principles of applied behavior analysis under the rigorous scrutiny of both Dr. Julie S. Vargas (formerly Skinner) and Dr. E.A. Vargas at West Virginia University’s internationally recognized program. For the past 26 years, Brett has used behavior analytic principles to create large scale change across school districts, Fortune 500 companies using principles of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), and across individual learners. Brett has been a OBM consultant in Morgantown WV, an instructor at West Virginia University, a guest lecturer at numerous universities, a speaker on multiple Comcast Newsmakers TV programs, an expert witness in due process hearings, has publications in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and has been in in executive leadership positions across schools and residential programs nationwide. In addition to an award from South Jersey Biz Magazine for “Best Places to Work,” an award for “Best of Families” in Suburban Magazine, and the distinguished “Top Ranked U.S. Executives” award, Brett’s proudest accomplishment is being a role model and father for his daughter and two stepchildren (one of which has autism). Brett can be reached at [email protected]

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