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Business versus ethics? Thoughts on the future of business ethics

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-15, 14:48 authored by M. Tina Dacin, Jeffrey S. Harrison, David Hess, SHEILA KILLIANSHEILA KILLIAN, Julia Roloff

To commemorate 40 years since the founding of the Journal of Business Ethics, the editors in chief of the journal have invited the editors to provide commentaries on the future of business ethics. This essay comprises a selection of commentaries aimed at creating dialogue around the theme Business versus Ethics? (inspired by the title of the commentary by Jefrey Harrison). The authors of these commentaries seek to transcend the age-old separation fallacy (Freeman in Bus Ethics Q 4(4):409–421, 1994) that juxtaposes business and ethics/society, posing a forced choice or trade of. Providing a contemporary take on the classical question “if it’s legal is it ethical?”, David Hess explores the role of the law in promoting or hindering stakeholder-oriented purpose and governance structure. Jefrey Harrison encourages scholars to move beyond the presupposition that businesses are either strategic or ethical and explore important questions at the intersection of strategy and ethics. The proposition that business models might be inherently ethical or inherently unethical in their design is developed by Sheila Killian, who examines business systems, their morality, and who they serve. However, the conundrum that entrepreneurs are either lauded for their self-belief and risk-taking, or loathed for their self-belief and risk-taking, is discussed by M. Tina Dacin and Julia Rolof using the metaphor of taboos and totems. These commentaries seek to explore positions that advocate multiplicity and tensions in which business ethics is not either/or but both.



Journal of Businss Ethics, 180, pp. 863–877



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