Blame Someone Else. Originally BSE referred to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or mad cow disease, a fatal disease affecting cattle that has been transmitted to humans as new variant Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease or vCJD (nvCJD). However, in Brussels in the 1990s the tactics pursued by the then British Government before the European Commission, after BSE appeared to originate in the U.K. because of local animal feed manufacturing techniques, led to the sarcastic joke that BSE stood for “Blame Someone Else.”

Since then BSE has often been used to describe this approach to problems in certain quarters, and is occasionally heard, for example, in Japan. There in particular, a failure to accept responsibility, even for a subordinate’s mistake, or something only partly in one’s control, is considered a major failing that will undermine the respect that the person or business blame-shifting is held in; conversely, accepting some modicum of responsibility, especially when the fault is obviously primarily that of a third party may serve to increase respect and long-term trust.

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