Ethics and Network Organizations

Business Ethics Quarterly 20 (3):533-543 (2010)
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As value chains become longer with increases in outsourcing and subcontracting, the challenges of fixing responsibility become more difficult. Using concepts from the literature on social networks, this paper considers issues of diffusion of responsibility and plausible deniability in such relationships. Specifically, this paper isolates three sources of denial of – or defense against – attributions of responsibility: connection, control and knowledge. It goes on to consider the effects on network density and actor centrality as third parties (tertius illuminans) alter the structure of these networks. Finally, preliminary conclusions are considered including suggestions for addressing these new challenges as well as the potential for conceptual cross-fertilization between network analysis and organizationalethics.



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Robert Phillips
University of Connecticut

References found in this work

Stakeholder Theory and A Principle of Fairness.Robert A. Phillips - 1997 - Business Ethics Quarterly 7 (1):51-66.
Corporate ethics initiatives as social control.William S. Laufer & Diana C. Robertson - 1997 - Journal of Business Ethics 16 (10):1029-1047.
The Kasky-Nike Threat to Corporate Social Reporting.Thomas W. Dunfee - 2007 - Business Ethics Quarterly 17 (1):5-32.
A précis of a communicative theory of the firm.Jeffery D. Smith - 2004 - Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility 13 (4):317-331.

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