Virtue blindness and hegemony: Qualitative evidence of negotiated ethical frameworks in the social language of university research administration

Science and Engineering Ethics 13 (2):195-220 (2007)
The study used critical discourse analysis (CDA) to elucidate normative structures of ethical behavior in university research administration which may be useful for knowledge transference to future studies of research integrity. Research administration appears to support integrity in the research environment through four very strong normative domains: (1) respect for authority structures; (2) respect for institutional boundaries; (3) professionalism; and (4) a strong sense of virtue. The strong norm structure of research administration, however, appears to be threatened by the fifth domain, (5) political power, which is inhabited by prestigious faculty with tenure, top-down authority misalignment, and the power for some institutional members to circumvent the system. The strong normative structure also appears threatened by the overall consequentiality of the regulatory environment, and shifting contexts that threaten personal virtue. In the end, the normative structure is fluid, politically acquiescent to power, and ambiguous. Although the professional core of the norm structure is strong, the strengths and weaknesses in the overall system can be connected to poorly constructed elements of the institutional environment.
Keywords Norms  Ethics  Integrity  Discourse  Conjuncture  Institutionalism
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DOI 10.1007/s11948-007-9007-8
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