Ethical Decision Making in Fair Trade Companies

14 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2011

See all articles by Iain Andrew Davies

Iain Andrew Davies

University of Bath

Andrew Crane

University of Bath - School of Management

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 8, 2011

Abstract

This paper reports on a study of ethical decision-making in a fair trade company. This can be seen to be a crucial arena for investigation since fair trade firms not only have a specific ethical mission in terms of helping growers out of poverty, but they tend to be perceived as (and are often marketed on the basis of ) having an “ethical” image. Eschewing a straightforward test of extant ethical decision models, we adopt Thompson’s proposal for a more contextualist understanding rooted in ethnographic data. Our findings suggest that the fair trade mission of the firm is experienced as an over-riding ethical claim, which is often invoked to justify potentially ethically questionable decisions. Moreover, decision precedents emerge which can mean that the decision process is bypassed or hurried through. Finally we provide evidence that the significance of these precedents, and indeed, even moral intensity itself, could be actively shaped and constructed by organization members to support different, even shifting, conceptions of what is a morally acceptable decision for a fair trade company to make.

Keywords: codes of conduct, ethical decision making, ethical mission, fair trade, human rights, supply chains

JEL Classification: M3

Suggested Citation

Davies, Iain Andrew and Crane, Andrew, Ethical Decision Making in Fair Trade Companies (June 8, 2011). Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 45, No. 1, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1860055

Iain Andrew Davies (Contact Author)

University of Bath ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

Andrew Crane

University of Bath - School of Management ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.bath.ac.uk/management/faculty/andrew-crane.html

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