Empirical Business Ethics Research and Paradigm Analysis
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.
Keywordscross-cultural business ethics empirical business ethics research ontologies epistemologies and methodologies paradigm analysis paradigm typologies undergraduate student attitudes
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
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.
- 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Chinese and Australian Undergraduate Business Students: Cross-Cultural Business Ethics and a Paradigm Analysis’, Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Flinders University, Australia.Google Scholar
- Burrell, G., & Morgan, G. 1979, Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis. Heinemann, London.Google Scholar
- Business Ethics Quarterly: 2007, ‘Information for Contributors’, http://www.buec.udel.edu/beq/contributors.htm. Accessed 5 Nov 2007 .
- Crotty, M. 1998, The Foundations of Social Research: Meaning and Perspective in the Research Process, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
- Denzin, N., & Lincoln, Y. (Eds.). 1994, Handbook of Qualitative Research, Sage, Thousand Oaks, California.Google Scholar
- Gilligan, C. 1982, In a Different Voice, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
- 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
- Hassard, J. 1993, Sociology and Organization Theory: Positivism, Paradigms and Postmodernity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
- Jackall, R. 1988, Moral Mazes, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
- 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
- Kohlberg, L. 1981, The Philosophy of Moral Development, Harper & Row, New York. Google Scholar
- Kohlberg, L. 1984, The Psychology of Moral Development, Harper & Row, San Francisco.Google Scholar
- 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
- Popper, K., 1972, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
- 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