The sociology of knowledge: Toward an existential view of business ethics [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 10 (10):787 - 795 (1991)
Business ethics is the study of ethics as it applies to a particular sphere of human activity. As such, business ethics presupposes a difference between an individual's experience within a business organization and his or her experience outside the organization. But how do we examine this difference? How do we discuss an individual's experience of everyday reality? What processes create and sustain this reality, and how does one's version of reality affect what is, and what is not, ethical? This paper outlines an approach to these questions based on theory from the sociology of knowledge, an approach which makes some progress towards making business ethics more existential. The sociology of knowledge, and particularly the social constructionist perspective, is concerned with how an institution creates knowledge and how this knowledge affects the cognitive processes of the individuals who make up the institution. The dialectic nature of the interdependent processes which shape both the individual and the organization are important in understanding how business ethics, as one kind of social knowledge, are enacted. Examining these processes leads to several interesting hypotheses about the nature of both the study and practice of business ethics. XXXOnly individuals have a sense of responsibility. — Friedrich Nietzsche.
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