Family Business Ethics: At the Crossroads of Business Ethics and Family Business

Journal of Business Ethics 150 (3):691-709 (2018)

Abstract

In spite of the considerable development of research in the fields of business ethics and family business, a comprehensive review and integration of the area where both disciplines intersect has not been undertaken so far. This paper aims at contributing to the call for more research on family business ethics by answering the following research questions: What is the status of the current research at the intersection of business ethics and family business? Why and how do family firms differ from non-family firms regarding business ethics? And, what are the key directions for further research? To answer these questions, this study combines a systematic approach for the selection of articles, resulting in a sample of 31 articles over 35 years, with a narrative review to analyze the literature. This paper finds that research on family business ethics is scarce but increasing and that family firms are considerably different from non-family firms regarding ethical issues. Particular stakeholders, goals, relationships, and practices are found to be the forces behind the peculiarity of family business ethics. Ultimately, research development on family business ethics is encouraged and future research directions flowing from the key findings and reflections of this review are provided.

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