Ethics and Network Organizations
Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 533-543
11 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2009 Last revised: 29 Sep 2016
Date Written: November 21, 2010
As value chains become longer with increases in outsourcing and subcontracting, the challenges of fixing responsibility become more difficult. Using concepts from the literature on social networks, this paper considers issues of diffusion of responsibility and plausible deniability in such relationships. Specifically, this paper isolates three sources of denial of – or defense against – attributions of responsibility: connection, control and knowledge. It goes on to consider the effects on network density and actor centrality as third parties (tertius illuminans) alter the structure of these networks. Finally, preliminary conclusions are considered including suggestions for addressing these new challenges as well as the potential for conceptual cross-fertilization between network analysis and organizational ethics.
Keywords: networks, ethics, structural holes, diffusion of responsibility, plausible deniability
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