Business Ethics

Edited by Joakim Sandberg (Göteborgs Universitet)
About this topic
Summary Business ethics is the application of ethical theories and concepts to activity within and between commercial enterprises, and between commercial enterprises and their broader environment. It is a wide range of activity, and no brief list can be made of the issues it raises. The safety of working practices; the fairness of recruitment; the transparency of financial accounting; the promptness of payments to suppliers; the degree of permissible aggression between competitors: all come within the range of the subject. So do relations between businesses and consumers, local communities, national governments, and ecosystems. Many, but not all, of these issues can be understood to bear on distinct, recognized groups with their own stakes in a business: employees, shareholders, consumers, and so on. A central question concerns how businesses ought to weigh the interests of different stakeholders against each other; particularly what moral import to give to profit-making (presumably in the interest of shareholders in large corporations).
Key works Much of business ethics starts from Milton Friedman's provocative article "The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Profits" (reprinted in Snoeyenbos et al 2001, Jennings 2002, ...). Some well-cited expressions of alternative views are Freeman 1994...
Introductions Some introductions by Snoeyenbos et al 2001, Shaw 2002.
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  1. Is Frequent Service-Learning a Too-Much-of-a-Good-Thing Effect? In Advance.Omid Sabbaghi, Gerald F. Cavanagh & J. Timothy Hipskind - forthcoming - Business and Professional Ethics Journal.
  2. Few Women on Boards: What’s Identity Got to Do With It?Lívia Markoczy, Sunny Li Sun & Jigao Zhu - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics:1-17.
    Drawing on the similarity-attraction perspective and social identity theory, we argue that male versus female interlocking directors are likely to have different experiences when they work alongside female board directors of other firms. The theorized source of such experiences for male interlocking directors is in-group favoritism and/or a social identity threat-related discomfort. Interlocking female directors are theorized to be ambivalent between desiring social support versus experiencing identity threat-based career concerns. These experiences are predicted to motivate male versus female interlocking directors (...)
  3. Exploring a Public Interest Definition of Corruption: Public Private Partnerships in Socialist Asia.John Gillespie, Thang Van Nguyen, Hung Vu Nguyen & Canh Quang Le - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics:1-16.
    As conventionally understood, corruption relies on a set of universally agreed rules that determine what constitutes the appropriate allocation of organizational resources. This article explores whether rule-based approaches to corruption are applicable where business organizations, such as public private partnerships, and the public fundamentally disagree about what constitutes an appropriate allocation of resources. Drawing on empirical research about PPPs in Vietnam, this article compares how government, business organizations, and the public conceptualize the transfer of public assets into private ownership. It (...)
  4. Corporate Governance Structures and Bank Risk Taking Behaviour: Evidence From Africa Using Income Bracket Approach.Baah Aye Kusi, Gloria Clarissa Dzeha, Daniel Ofori Sasu & Lawrence Ansah Addo - 2018 - International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics 13 (2):138.
  5. A Systematic Review of the Bottom/Base of the Pyramid Literature: Cumulative Evidence and Future Directions.Krzysztof Dembek, Nagaraj Sivasubramaniam & Danielle A. Chmielewski - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics:1-18.
    Sixteen years ago, Prahalad and Hart introduced the possibility of both profitably serving the poor and alleviating poverty. This first iteration of the Bottom/Base of the Pyramid approach focused on selling to the poor. In 2008, after ethical criticisms leveled at it, the field moved to BoP 2.0, instead emphasizing business co-venturing. Since 2015, we have witnessed some calls for a new iteration, with the focus broadening to a more sustainable development approach to poverty alleviation. In this paper, we seek (...)
  6. Psychology and Business Ethics: A Multi-Level Research Agenda.Gazi Islam - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics:1-13.
    Arguing that psychology and business ethics are best brought together through a multi-level, broad-based agenda, this essay articulates a vision of psychology and business ethics to frame a future research agenda. The essay draws upon work published in JBE, but also identifies gaps where published research is needed, to build upon psychological conceptions of business ethics. Psychological concepts, notably, are not restricted to phenomena “in the head”, but are discussed at the intra-psychic, relational, and contextual levels of analysis. On the (...)
  7. On the Origin, Content, and Relevance of the Market Failures Approach.Jeffrey Moriarty - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics:1-12.
    The view of business ethics that Christopher McMahon calls the “implicit morality of the market” and Joseph Heath calls the “market failures approach” has received a significant amount of recent attention. The idea of this view is that we can derive an ethics for market participants by thinking about the “point” of market activity, and asking what the world would have to be like for this point to be realized. While this view has been much-discussed, it is still not well-understood. (...)
  8. Developing a Corporate Director's Internal Fiduciary Duty to Promote Corporate Sustainability: A Comparative Survey of Hard and Soft Laws Benchmarking Nigerian Law.Olawale Ajai - 2018 - International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics 13 (2):170.
  9. Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards: Does Critical Mass Matter to Investors.Etienne Redor - 2018 - International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics 13 (2):199.
  10. Individualism and Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting.Camila A. Simas, Daniel J. Slater & Karen Miller - 2018 - International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics 13 (2):107.
  11. Corporate Governance Structures and Bank Risk Taking Behaviour: Evidence From Africa Using Income Bracket Approach.Lawrence Ansah Addo, Gloria Clarissa Dzeha, Baah Aye Kusi & Daniel Ofori Sasu - 2018 - International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics 13 (2):138.
  12. The Development Policy for the Audit and Inspection System of the National Research Institute Utilising the Analytic Hierarchy Process.Donghun Yoon - 2018 - International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics 13 (2):121.
  13. Do Board Secretaries Influence Management Earnings Forecasts?Lu Xing, Tinghua Duan & Wenxuan Hou - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):537-574.
  14. Safety Culture in Financial Trading: An Analysis of Trading Misconduct Investigations.Meghan P. Leaver & Tom W. Reader - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):461-481.
  15. Character Cues and Contracting Costs: The Relationship Between Philanthropy and the Cost of Capital.Leon Zolotoy, Don O’Sullivan & Jill Klein - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):497-515.
  16. Corporate Culture and Investment–Cash Flow Sensitivity.Fuxiu Jiang, Kenneth A. Kim, Yunbiao Ma, John R. Nofsinger & Beibei Shi - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):425-439.
  17. An Orchestrated Negotiated Exchange: Trading Home-Based Telework for Intensified Work.Dharma Raju Bathini & George Mathew Kandathil - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):411-423.
  18. Mba Ceos, Short-Term Management and Performance.Danny Miller & Xiaowei Xu - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):285-300.
  19. Autocontrol: A Critical Study of Achievements and Challenges in the Pursuit of Ethical Advertising Through an Advertising Self-Regulation System.Ramón A. Feenstra & Elsa González Esteban - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):341-354.
  20. “Thinking Outside the Packaging Box”: Should Brands Consider Store Shelf Context When Eliminating Overpackaging?Elisa Monnot, Fanny Reniou, Béatrice Parguel & Leila Elgaaied-Gambier - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):355-370.
  21. Perfectionism and the Place of the Interior Life in Business: Toward an Ethics of Personal Growth.Joshua S. Nunziato & Ronald Paul Hill - forthcoming - Business Ethics Quarterly:1-28.
  22. Do Customer Perceptions of Corporate Services Brand Ethicality Improve Brand Equity? Considering the Roles of Brand Heritage, Brand Image, and Recognition Benefits.Oriol Iglesias, Stefan Markovic, Jatinder Jit Singh & Vicenta Sierra - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):441-459.
    In order to be competitive in an era of ethical consumerism, brands are facing an ever-increasing pressure to integrate ethical values into their identities and to display their ethical commitment at a corporate level. Nevertheless, studies that relate business ethics to corporate brands are either theoretical or have predominantly been developed empirically in goods contexts. This is surprising, because corporate brands are more relevant in services settings, given the nature of services, and the fact that services settings comprise a greater (...)
  23. The Self-Deceived Consumer: Women’s Emotional and Attitudinal Reactions to the Airbrushed Thin Ideal in the Absence Versus Presence of Disclaimers.Sylvie Borau & Marcelo Vinhal Nepomuceno - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):325-340.
    The use of airbrushed “thin ideal” models in advertising creates major ethical challenges: This practice deceives consumers and can be harmful to their emotional state. To inform consumers they are being deceived and reduce these negative adverse effects, disclaimers can state that the images have been digitally altered and are unrealistic. However, recent research shows that such disclaimers have very limited impact on viewers. This surprising result needs further investigation to understand how women who detect that images have been airbrushed (...)
  24. Factors Impacting Market Concentration of Not-for-Profit Hospitals.Jomon A. Paul, Benedikt Quosigk & Leo MacDonald - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):517-535.
    We attempt to identify and evaluate the association between key characteristics of not-for-profit hospitals and market concentration, as measured by the Herfindahl–Hirschman Index, using data available from the American Hospital Association, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Internal Revenue Service Form 990. Our goal is to provide decision support to policy makers on factors that contribute to market competitiveness, which has been linked to improvements in efficiency, costs, and access to health care. We find that contributions are (...)
  25. Straight From the Source? Media Framing of Creative Crowd Labor and Resultant Ethical Concerns.Kim Bartel Sheehan & Matthew Pittman - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):575-585.
    Increasing numbers of marketers are turning to the crowd—members of the public engaged with brands via the Internet—to develop marketing and advertising campaigns. Some marketers use social media to connect directly with customers, while others use crowdsourcing agencies to harness the power of crowd labor. As more members of the public become aware of creative crowdsourcing, they look to the media to understand more about it. As a result, it is important to examine how the media currently frame creative crowdsourcing (...)
  26. Morality Effects and Consumer Responses to Counterfeit and Pirated Products: A Meta-Analysis.Martin Eisend - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):301-323.
    Acquisition and purchase of counterfeit and pirated products are illicit and morally questionable consumer behaviors. Nonetheless, some consumers engage in such illicit behavior and seem to overcome the moral dilemma by justification strategies. The findings on morality effects on consumer responses to counterfeit and pirated products are diverse, and the underlying theories provide no clear picture of the process that explains how morality and justification lead to particular consumer responses or why consumers differ in their responses. This study presents a (...)
  27. The Moderating Roles of Follower Conscientiousness and Agreeableness on the Relationship Between Peer Transparency and Follower Transparency.Cass Shum, Anthony Gatling, Laura Book & Billy Bai - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):483-495.
    Transparency is an underpinning of workplace ethics. However, most of the existing research has focused on the relationship between leader transparency and its consequences. Drawing on social and self-regulation theory research, we examine the antecedents of followers’ transparency. Specifically, we propose that followers have higher levels of transparency when they are working with peers who have a high level of transparency. We further suggest that followers’ conscientiousness and agreeableness moderate the relationship between peer transparency and followers’ transparency. Using a time-lagged (...)
  28. Male Versus Female: How the Gender of Apologizers Influences Consumer Forgiveness.Haiying Wei & Yaxuan Ran - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):371-387.
    In a corporate apology, the apologizer can be either a male or a female. How does the gender of the apologizer influence consumer forgiveness? We suggest that the relative effectiveness of corporate apologies made by males versus females depends on the nature of the corporate wrongdoing, namely whether the wrongdoing is related to performance or to value. Three experiments demonstrate that a male apologizer elicits more consumer forgiveness than a female apologizer for performance-related wrongdoings, while a female apologizer garners more (...)
  29. E-Commerce Ethics and Its Impact on Buyer Repurchase Intentions and Loyalty: An Empirical Study of Small and Medium Egyptian Businesses.Gomaa Agag - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (2):389-410.
    The theoretical understanding of e-commerce has received much attention over the years; however, relatively little focus has been directed towards e-commerce ethics, especially the SMEs B2B e-ecommerce aspect. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to develop and empirically test a framework that explains the impact of SMEs B2B e-commerce ethics on buyer repurchase intentions and loyalty. Using SEM to analyse the data collected from a sample of SME e-commerce firms in Egypt, the results indicate that buyers’ perceptions of supplier (...)
  30. Decasticization, Dignity, and ‘Dirty Work’ at the Intersections of Caste, Memory, and Disaster.Ramaswami Mahalingam, Srinath Jagannathan & Patturaja Selvaraj - forthcoming - Business Ethics Quarterly:1-27.
  31. State Pension Funds and Corporate Social Responsibility: Do Beneficiaries’ Political Values Influence Funds’ Investment Decisions?Andreas G. F. Hoepner & Lisa Schopohl - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics:1-28.
    This study explores the underlying drivers of US public pension funds’ tendency to tilt their portfolios towards companies with stronger corporate social responsibility. Studying the equity holdings of large, internally managed US state pension funds, we find evidence that the political leaning of their beneficiaries and political pressures by state politicians affect funds’ investment decisions. State pension funds from states with Democratic-leaning beneficiaries tilt their portfolios more strongly towards companies that perform well on CSR issues, and this tendency is intensified (...)
  32. The Consumer Scam: An Agency-Theoretic Approach.Sareh Pouryousefi & Jeff Frooman - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):1-12.
  33. The Values of Economics.Girts Racko - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):35-48.
  34. How to Avoid Mistaking the Map for the Territory.Régis Martineau - forthcoming - Philosophy of Management.
  35. Transcendence, Consciousness and Order: Towards a Philosophical Spirituality of Organization in the Footsteps of Plato and Eric Voegelin.Tuomo Peltonen - forthcoming - Philosophy of Management.
  36. Happy But Uncivil? Examining When and Why Positive Affect Leads to Incivility.Remus Ilies, Cathy Yang Guo, Sandy Lim, Kai Chi Yam & Xinxin Li - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics:1-20.
    In this paper, we examine the interactive effects of positive affect and perspective-taking on workplace incivility and family incivility, through moral disengagement. We draw from broaden-and-build and moral disengagement theories to suggest a potential negative consequence of positive affect. Specifically, we argue that positive affect increases incivility toward coworkers and spouses through moral disengagement among employees with low, but not high perspective-taking. Data from two time-lagged field studies and one online experiment provide support for our hypotheses. These findings suggest that (...)
  37. Libertarian Punishment Theory and Unjust Enrichment.Walter E. Block - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):103-108.
    What is the proper punishment from the perspective of the libertarian philosophy? More specifically, in what way, if at all, may a thief benefit from his robbery? The present essay attempts to wrestle with these challenging questions.
  38. Investigating When and Why Psychological Entitlement Predicts Unethical Pro-Organizational Behavior.Allan Lee, Gary Schwarz, Alexander Newman & Alison Legood - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):109-126.
    In this research, we examine the relationship between employee psychological entitlement and employee willingness to engage in unethical pro-organizational behavior. We hypothesize that a high level of PE—the belief that one should receive desirable treatment irrespective of whether it is deserved—will increase the prevalence of this particular type of unethical behavior. We argue that, driven by self-interest and the desire to look good in the eyes of others, highly entitled employees may be more willing to engage in UPB when their (...)
  39. Idiosyncratic Deals From a Distributive Justice Perspective: Examining Co-Workers’ Voice Behavior.Elise Marescaux, Sophie De Winne & Luc Sels - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):263-281.
    This study focuses on a third-party perspective of idiosyncratic deals. More specifically, we look into the differential judgments co-workers make about i-deals in their work environment, as well as their reactions. Based on equity theory, we examine to what extent the content of the i-deal and the work context explain co-worker judgments regarding i-deal fairness in addition to subsequent voice behavior. A vignette study with 1988 respondents shows that when i-deals are considered distributively unfair, co-workers try to restore equity through (...)
  40. Does Ethical Leadership Motivate Followers to Participate in Delivering Compassion?Pablo Zoghbi-Manrique-de-Lara & Mercedes Viera-Armas - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):195-210.
    Little is known about whether followers who perceive ethical leadership are more easily moved to act compassionately with peers. This study hypothesizes four compassionate feelings as mediators of the relationship between ethical leadership and interpersonal citizenship behavior directed at peers: empathic concern or an other-oriented emotional response elicited by and congruent with the perceived welfare of a peer in need; mindfulness, a state of consciousness in which attention is focused on present-moment phenomena; kindness, understanding the pain or suffering of peers; (...)
  41. When Do Ethical Leaders Become Less Effective? The Moderating Role of Perceived Leader Ethical Conviction on Employee Discretionary Reactions to Ethical Leadership.Mayowa T. Babalola, Jeroen Stouten, Jeroen Camps & Martin Euwema - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):85-102.
    Drawing from the group engagement model and the moral conviction literature, we propose that perceived leader ethical conviction moderates the relationship between ethical leadership and employee OCB as well as deviance. In a field study of employees from various industries and a scenario-based experiment, we revealed that both the positive relation between ethical leadership and employee OCB and the negative relation between ethical leadership and employee deviance are more pronounced when leaders are perceived to have weak rather than strong ethical (...)
  42. Peer Influence on Managerial Honesty: The Role of Transparency and Expectations.Markus Brunner & Andreas Ostermaier - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):127-145.
    We investigate peer influence on managerial honesty under varying levels of transparency. In a laboratory experiment, managers report their costs to a superior to request budget. We manipulate whether the managers learn each other’s report and cost or the report but not the cost. The results show, first, that managers are susceptible to peer influence, as they join peers in reporting honestly and dishonestly both under full and partial transparency. Second, however, the effect of peer influence is asymmetric. While managers’ (...)
  43. The Effect of Interactional Fairness and Detection on Taxpayers’ Compliance Intentions.Jonathan Farrar, Steven E. Kaplan & Linda Thorne - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):167-180.
    Although the role of fairness in tax compliance has been of increasing interest among the academic and professional tax communities, very little is known about the role of interactional fairness. Interactional fairness refers to the quality of the treatment provided to individuals from authority figures, such as tax authority representatives. We conduct an experiment using US taxpayers to examine the role of interactional fairness on tax compliance intentions, and how detection influences this relation. Taxpayers’ detection salience reflects their perceptions that (...)
  44. The Curvilinear Relationship Between Ethical Leadership and Team Creativity: The Moderating Role of Team Faultlines.Shenjiang Mo, Chu-Ding Ling & Xiao-Yun Xie - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):229-242.
    In this study, we built and tested a theoretical model to determine how ethical leadership affects team creativity among teams composed of different characteristics. Following social learning theory and an antecedent–benefit–cost framework, we conducted analyses of multisource data from 50 team supervisors and 186 employees, which revealed an inverted U-shaped relationship between ethical leadership and team creativity. The teams exhibited more creativity when there was a moderate level of ethical leadership than when there were very low or very high levels. (...)
  45. Regulating “Good” People in Subtle Conflicts of Interest Situations.Yuval Feldman & Eliran Halali - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):65-83.
    Growing recognition in both the psychological and management literature of the concept of “good people” has caused a paradigm shift in our understanding of wrongful behavior: Wrongdoings that were previously assumed to be based on conscious choice—that is, deliberate decisions—are often the product of intuitive processes that prevent people from recognizing the wrongfulness of their behavior. Several leading scholars have dubbed this process as an ethical “blind spot.” This study explores the main implications of the good people paradigm on the (...)
  46. The Impact of Locus of Control, Moral Intensity, and the Microsocial Ethical Environment on Purchasing-Related Ethical Reasoning.Jocelyn Husser, Jean-Marc Andre & Véronique Lespinet-Najib - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):243-261.
    This study uses a sample of 242 European professional purchasers to examine the six characteristics of the decision-making process developed by Jones. The illustration mobilizes six original scenarios reproducing typical purchasing situations. Two versions of each scenario were used, one representing low moral intensity and the other showing high moral intensity. Two populations were sampled: one of 120 purchasers responding to the first version of the questionnaire and a second of 122 different purchasers responding to version two. Each version contained (...)
  47. People and Profits: The Impact of Corporate Objectives on Employees’ Need Satisfaction at Work.Bidhan L. Parmar, Adrian Keevil & Andrew C. Wicks - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):13-33.
    For decades, scholars have debated the corporate objective. Scholars have either advocated a corporate objective focused on generating value for shareholders or creating value for multiple groups of stakeholders. Although it has been established that the corporate objective can shape many aspects of the corporation—including culture, compensation, and decision making—to date, scholars have not yet explored its psychological impact; particularly, how the corporate objective might influence employee well-being. In this article, we explore how two views of the corporate objective affect (...)
  48. The Respective Effects of Virtues and Inter-Organizational Management Control Systems on Relationship Quality and Performance: Virtues Win.Carole Donada, Caroline Mothe, Gwenaëlle Nogatchewsky & Gisele de Campos Ribeiro - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):211-228.
    In this study, we evaluate how individual virtues and inter-organizational management control systems influence buyer–supplier performance through relationship quality. Results from a sample of 232 firms confirm that virtues and IOMCS relate positively to relationship quality and performance, respectively. However, IOMCS lose their positive influence on relationship quality when considered along with virtues. That is, when both variables enter the regression model simultaneously, virtues win. This interesting finding has particular resonance at a time when research on ethics still needs to (...)
  49. Do Local Protestant Values Affect Corporate Cash Holdings?Huajing Hu, Yili Lian & Wencang Zhou - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):147-166.
    This study examines how local Protestant belief, as one type of social norms, affects corporate cash policies. We find that firms located in areas with more Protestants hold less cash reserves. The influence of local Protestant belief on cash holdings is more profound for firms with weak corporate governance and firms with one geographic segment. In addition, we find that the difference in cash deployment is reflected in the difference in firms’ investment and payout policies. Overall, our study shows that (...)
  50. Who Follows the Unethical Leader? The Association Between Followers’ Personal Characteristics and Intentions to Comply in Committing Organizational Fraud.Eric N. Johnson, Linda A. Kidwell, D. Jordan Lowe & Philip M. J. Reckers - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (1):181-193.
    The role of followers in financial statement fraud has not been widely examined, even though these frauds typically involve collusion between followers and destructive leaders. In a study with 140 MBA students in the role of followers, we examined whether two follower personality traits were associated with behavioral intentions to comply with the demands of an unethical chief executive officer to be complicit in committing financial statement fraud. These personality traits are self-sacrificing self-enhancement, a form of maladaptive narcissism characterized by (...)
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