Advertisement

Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 86, Issue 4, pp 429–449 | Cite as

Empirical Business Ethics Research and Paradigm Analysis

  • V. Brand
Article

Abstract

Despite the so-called ‘paradigm wars’ in many social sciences disciplines in recent decades, debate as to the appropriate philosophical basis for research in business ethics has been comparatively non-existent. Any consideration of paradigm issues in the theoretical business ethics literature is rare and only very occasional references to relevant issues have been made in the empirical journal literature. This is very much the case in the growing fields of cross-cultural business ethics and undergraduate student attitudes, and examples from these fields are used in this article. No typology of the major paradigms available for, or relied upon in, business ethics has been undertaken in the wider journal literature, and this article addresses that gap. It contributes a synthesis of three models of paradigms and a tabulated comparison of ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions in the context of empirical business ethics research. The author also suggests the likely (and usually unidentified) positivist paradigm assumptions underlying the vast majority of empirical business ethics research published in academic journals and also argues for an increased reliance on less positivist assumptions moving forward.

Keywords

cross-cultural business ethics empirical business ethics research ontologies epistemologies and methodologies paradigm analysis paradigm typologies undergraduate student attitudes 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author acknowledges the valuable assistance provided by Assoc Prof Carol Tilt in the development of this article, and also thanks the anonymous reviewers for their assistance and comments.

References

  1. Brand, V.: 2006, ‘Business Ethics Perceptions of Malaysian Chinese and Australian Undergraduate Business Students: Cross-Cultural Business Ethics and a Paradigm Analysis’, Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Flinders University, Australia.Google Scholar
  2. Brand, V., & Slater, A. (2003). Using a Qualitative Approach to Gain Insights into the Business Ethics Experiences of Australian Managers in China. Journal of Business Ethics, 45, 167–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burrell, G., & Morgan, G. 1979, Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis. Heinemann, London.Google Scholar
  4. Business Ethics Quarterly: 2007, ‘Information for Contributors’, http://www.buec.udel.edu/beq/contributors.htm. Accessed 5 Nov 2007 .
  5. Chikudate, N. (2000). A Phenomenological Approach to Inquiring into an Ethically Bankrupted Organization: A Case Study of a Japanese Company. Journal of Business Ethics, 28, 59–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Collier, J. (1995). ‘Business Ethics Research: Shaping the Agenda’, Business Ethics. European Review (Chichester, England), 4, 6–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Crane, A. (1999). Are You Ethical? Please Tick Yes or No: On Researching Ethics in Business Organizations. Journal of Business Ethics, 20, 237–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Crotty, M. 1998, The Foundations of Social Research: Meaning and Perspective in the Research Process, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
  9. D’Aquila, J., Bean, D., & Procario-Foley, E. (2004). ‘Students’ Perceptions of the Ethical Business Climate: a Comparison With Leaders in the Community’. Journal of Business Ethics, 51, 155–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Denzin, N., & Lincoln, Y. (Eds.). 1994, Handbook of Qualitative Research, Sage, Thousand Oaks, California.Google Scholar
  11. French, W., Häßlein, C., & van Es, R. (2002). Constructivist Negotiation Ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 39, 83–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. French, W., Zeiss, H., & Scherer, A. (2001). ‘Intercultural Discourse Ethics: Testing Trompenaars’ and Hampden-Turner’s Conclusions about Americans and the French’. Journal of Business Ethics, 34, 145–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fritzsche, D., Y. Huo, S. Sugai, S. Tsai, C. Kim, and H. Becker: 1995, ‘Exploring the Ethical Behavior of Managers: A Comparative Study of Four Countries’, Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 12, 37–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gilligan, C. 1982, In a Different Voice, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  15. Guba, E. and Y. Lincoln: 1994, ‘Competing Paradigms in Qualitative Research’, Chapter 6 in N. Denzin and Y. Lincoln (eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research, (Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA)Google Scholar
  16. Hassard, J. 1993, Sociology and Organization Theory: Positivism, Paradigms and Postmodernity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  17. Jackall, R. 1988, Moral Mazes, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  18. Journal of Business Ethics: 2007, ‘Description of Journal’, Accessed 14 Dec 2007. http://www.springer.com/west/home/philosophy?SGWID=4-40385-70-35739432-0
  19. Kohlberg, L. 1981, The Philosophy of Moral Development, Harper & Row, New York. Google Scholar
  20. Kohlberg, L. 1984, The Psychology of Moral Development, Harper & Row, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  21. Kincheloe, J. and P. McLaren: 1994, ‘Rethinking Critical Theory and Qualitative Research’, Chapter 8 in N. Denzin and Y. Lincoln (eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research (Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA)Google Scholar
  22. Lämsä, A., & Takala, T., 2000, ‘Downsizing and Ethics of Personnel Dismissals – the Case of Finnish Managers’, Journal of Business Ethics, 23, 389–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McNeil, M., & Pedigo, K., 2001a, ‘Dilemmas and Dictates: Managers Tell Their Stories: About International Business Ethics’, Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics 13, 43–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McNeil, M., & Pedigo, K., 2001b, ‘Western Australian Managers Tell Their Stories: Ethical Challenges in International Business Operations’, Journal of Business Ethics 30, 305–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Parker, L., & Roffey, B., 1997, ‘Back to the Drawing Board: Revisiting Grounded Theory and the Everyday Accountant’s and Manager’s Reality’, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 10, 212–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pedigo, K., & Marshall, V., 2004, ‘International Ethical Dilemmas Confronting Australian Managers’, Journal of European Industrial Training, 28, 183–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Popper, K., 1972, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  28. Randall, D., & Fernandes, M., 1991, The Social Desirability Response Bias in Ethics Research. Journal of Business Ethics 10, 805–817.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Randall, D., & Gibson, A., 1990, ‘Methodology in Business Ethics Research: A Review and Critical Assessment’, Journal of Business Ethics, 9, 457–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Randall, D., Huo, Y., & Pawelk, P., 1993 Social Desirability Bias in Cross-Cultural Ethics Research. The International Journal of Organizational Analysis 1, 185–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Robertson, D., 1993, ‘Empiricism in Business Ethics: Suggested Research Directions’, Journal of Business Ethics, 12, 585–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Schwandt, T.: 1994, ‘Constructivist, Interpretivist Approaches to Human Inquiry’, Chapter 7 in N. Denzin and Y. Lincoln (eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.Google Scholar
  33. Spence, L., & Rutherfoord, R., 2003, ‘Small Business and Empirical Perspectives in Business Ethics: Editorial’, Journal of Business Ethics 47, 1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Su, Z., & Richelieu, A., 1999, ‘Western Managers Working in Romania: Perception and Attitude Regarding Business Ethics’, Journal of Business Ethics, 20, 133–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tan, D., & Snell, R., 2002, ‘The Third Eye: Exploring Guanxi and Relational Morality in the Workplace’, Journal of Business Ethics, 41, 361–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Treviño, L., Brown, M., & Hartman, L., 2003, ‘A Qualitative Investigation of Perceived Ethical Leadership: Perceptions from Inside and Outside the Executive Suite’, Human Relations 56, 5–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Flinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations