When Organization Theory Met Business Ethics: Towards Further Symbiose

Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 643-672, 2010

University of Zurich, Institute of Organization and Administrative Science (IOU), IOU Working Paper Series No. 112

49 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2010

See all articles by Pursey P.M.A.R. Heugens

Pursey P.M.A.R. Heugens

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

Andreas Georg Scherer

University of Zurich - IBW Department of Business Administration

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

Organization theory and business ethics are essentially the positive and normative sides of the very same coin, reflecting on how human cooperative activities are organized and how they ought to be organized respectively. It is therefore unfortunate that – due to the relatively impermeable manmade boundaries segregating the corresponding scholarly communities into separate schools and departments, professional associations, and scientific journals – the potential symbiosis between the two fields has not yet fully materialized. In this essay we make a modest attempt at establishing further connectivity by surveying the terrain covered by the two disciplines jointly, as if the boundaries between them did not matter. We commence by providing a concise overview of the organization theory discipline for interested non-specialists from the field of business ethics. Next, we proceed to point out four research themes commonly investigated by members of both communities, and also a variety of organization-theoretical perspectives on each. In the final part of this essay we explore what organization theory has to offer business ethics, and what the boundaries of that potential contribution are. We warn skeptical readers in advance that the spirit and tone of our essay is most definitely upbeat, as we are convinced that the potential for symbiosis between the two fields is vast and inspiring, even though it has only been unleashed partially and incidentally thus far.

Keywords: organization theory, business ethics, theoretical contribution

Suggested Citation

Heugens, Pursey P.M.A.R. and Scherer, Andreas Georg, When Organization Theory Met Business Ethics: Towards Further Symbiose (2010). University of Zurich, Institute of Organization and Administrative Science (IOU), IOU Working Paper Series No. 112. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1697525

Pursey P.M.A.R. Heugens

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands
0031 10 408 2365 (Phone)
0031 10 408 9012 (Fax)

Andreas Georg Scherer (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - IBW Department of Business Administration ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 84
Zurich, 8006
Switzerland
+41 44-63 45302 (Phone)
+41 44-63 45301 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.business.uzh.ch/professorships/as.html

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