Ethics is the part of philosophy studying good and evil. From Aristotle to Kant or Habermas, this concept has been linked with culture and morals, and concerns what you should do or not in a social particular context. This concept fits philosophical and religious dimensions, but also social, economic and law dimensions (Moussé, 1992, Bergmann, 1994). Business ethics has long been studied by scholars. For a review in marketing, see for example Flipo And seidel (2010).
Although business ethics has a long history as a core theme within management research, it has received considerable attention in top strategy journals for only a few years (Robertson et al.. 2013). Ethics is now a crucial part of management and management research; further research should focus on operational dimensions and tools for managers (Du et al., 2010; Sénéchal, 2011; Korschun et al., 2014).
The ethical concept in business basically fits two dimensions: deontology and teleology (Vitell and Hunt, 2006). The deontological aspect includes values and norms. It refers to codes of conduct (from the Greek “deon”, meaning duty and logos, speech). The teleological aspect includes consciousness and anticipation of the consequences of our decisions and behaviors (from the Greek “teleos”, meaning goals, objectives, and logos, speech).
The deontological dimension has brought about a lot of research on normative aspects, and particularly on ethical codes for companies - see for example Laczniak (1983), Laczniak and Murphy (1991), Murphy and Gundlach (1993).
The teleological aspects lead to justice, responsibility, or utilitarianism theories. Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, so as for truth in a coherent thought (Rawls, 1971). The rise of the CSR concept is basically linked with this dimension of ethics. Interest in corporate social responsibility (CSR) has increased exponentially over the last few decades (Surroca et al., 2010; Bell et al., 2014). Many articles and special issues have been published that define and document the roles and responsibilities of business organisations in different contexts (Flammer, 2013; Fleming et al., 2013; Mason and Simmons, 2014).
A large proportion of the research on CSR has addressed organisational dimensions such as motivation, internal processes, implementation challenges, and strategic aspects that focus on the integration of ethics and strategy (Behnam and Rasche, 2009) or the business case for responsibility (Porter and Kramer, 2006; Caroll and Shabana,).
Many top-ranked journals recently published special issues on ethics (Journal of Business Ethics: Positive Organizational Ethics, 2012: Journal of Marketing Management: Re-visiting Contemporary Issues in Green/Ethical Marketing, 2012: Journal of Business Ethics: Ideologies in Markets, Organizations and Business Ethics, 2014) and/or corporate social responsibility (International Journal Of Management Reviews, Corporate Social Resposibility, 2010: EBEN–EDHEC Conference on “Licence to operate”, 2013), and sustainable development (special issue of Recherches et Applications en Marketing, 2014).
The ethical concept is now a crucial part of business research, and has spread into all business research topics, including sustainable development, generally split into three research dimensions: the social one (including CSR), the ecological one, and the economical one, including Fair Trade and fair economic practises.
Multinational firms and big businesses have already integrated these new standards and practices. What is the reality for small and medium enterprises?
On the other hand, many books, official codes or norms have been published on environment, including ISO norms (ISO 14000). Many official sources exist on CSR, and on the evaluation of corporate social performance of firms, but do the managers and practitioners really know what to do in case of an ethical dilemma? Can they use progressive tools and methods to improve their corporate social performance?
Behnam, M. and Rasche, A. (2009). Are strategists from Mars and ethicists from Venus? Strategizing as ethical reflection. Journal of Business Ethics 84(1), 79-88.
Bell R.G., Filatotchev T., Aguilera R.V. (2014). Corporate governance and investors perceptions of foreign IPO value: an institutional perspective, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 57, No. 1, 301-320.
Bergadaà M. (2004). Evolution de l’épistémè économique et sociale : proposition d’un cadre de morale, de déontologie, d’éthique et de responsabilité pour le marketer, Recherche et Applications en Marketing, (Vol. 19, n°1), p 57-72.
Bergmann A. (1994). Ethique et gestion, in Encyclopédie de gestion, (1997) Y. Simon, P. Joffre, 2nde édition, Economica, n° 62, 1239-1254.
Clarkson M.B.E. (1995). A stakeholder framework for analyzing and evaluating Corporate Social Performance, The Academy of Management Review, (Vol. 20, n°1), 92-117
Du S., Bhattacharya C.B. and Sen S. (2010). Maximizing Business Returns to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): The Role of CSR Communication, International Journal of Management Reviews, DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2370.2009.00276.x, 8-19
Flammer C. (2013). Corporate Social Responsibility and share holder reaction: he environmental awareness of investors, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 56, No. 3, 758–781.
Fleming, P., Roberts, J. and Carsten, C. (2013). In search of corporate social responsibility: Introduction to special issue. Organization 20(3), 337-348.
Flipo J.P., Seidel F. (2010). 20 ans de recherche en éthique marketing, une revue comparée de la littérature française et internationale, Revue Française de Gestion, n° 207, 47-61.
Korschun D., Bhattacharya C.B., and Swain S.D. (2014). Corporate Social Responsibility, Customer Orientation, and the Job Performance of Frontline Employees, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 78 (May), 20–37.
Laczniak G.R. (1983). A framework for analyzing business ethics, Journal of Macromarketing, n°3, 7–18.
Laczniak G.R., Murphy P.E. (1991). Fostering ethical marketing decisions, Journal of Business Ethics, (Vol 10, issue 4), 259-272.
Mason C., Simmons J. (2014). Embedding Corporate Social Responsibility in Corporate Governance: A Stakeholder Systems Approach, Journal of Business Ethics, 119:77–86, DOI 10.1007/s10551-012-1615-9.
Moussé J. (1992). Le chemin de l’éthique, Revue Française de Gestion, (n° 88, mars – avril –mai), 60-66.
Murphy P.E., Gund lach G.T. (1993). Ethical and legal foundations of relational marketing exchanges, Journal of Marketing, (vol. 57, October), 35-46.
Porter, M. E. and Kramer, M. R. (2006). Strategy and society. Harvard Business Review 84(12), 78-92.
Rawls J. (1971). A theory of justice, The Belknap press of Harvard University Press
Robertson C.J., Blevins D.P., Duffy T. (2013). A Five-Year Review, Update, and Assessment of Ethics and Governance in Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Business Ethics, 117:85–91.
Sénéchal S. (2011). Proposition d‘une échelle de mesure de l’éthique perçue dans la relation client – entreprise de services: l’exemple de la banque, Revue Française du Marketing, n° 233, 27-46
Surroca J, Tribo JA, Waddock S. (2010). Corporate responsibility and financial performance: the role of intangible resources. Strategic Management Journal 31(5):463-490.
Vitell S.J., Hunt S.D. (2006). “A General Theory of Marketing Ethics: A Revision and Three Questions,” Journal of Macromarketing, 26(2):143-153
Suitable topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Universal ethics and cultural diversity in business
- Business ethics and philosophical basis
- The ethical basis of the stakeholder theory
- The role of values in economic and business life
- Corporate values and their effective integration in managing organisations
- Religions as a source of values for business and leadership
We also welcome studies concentrated on tools and methods:
- Ethics and accountability instruments
- Best practices in business ethics and CSR
- Values and codes of business conduct
- Reason and functioning of stakeholder dialogue
- Ethical strategy and ethical behaviour of the workforce
- Ethical leadership
- Sustainable corporate governance
- Ethics training in organisations
- Internal/external communication of CSR
- Teaching business ethics and lifelong education
We also welcome studies concentrated on a sector point of view:
- Business ethics and CSR in non-profit organisations and in cooperatives
- Ethical values and social responsibility in SMEs
- The role of institutions in rebuilding values in economic life
- Business ethics and CSR in the public sector
- The role of values in an economic crisis
- Cross-fertilisation between for-profit and not-for-profit sectors
- The impact of CSR and ethics on rebuilding trust in the financial and economic system
Manuscript submission: 5 January, 2015
Notification to authors: 5 March, 2015
Final paper submission: 5 May, 2015