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Corporate Ethics  

Thomas Donaldson and Diana C. Robertson

Serious research into corporate ethics is nearly half a century old. Two approaches have dominated research; one is normative, the other empirical. The former, the normative approach, develops theories and norms that are prescriptive, that is, ones that are designed to guide corporate behavior. The latter, the empirical approach, investigates the character and causes of corporate behavior by examining corporate governance structures, policies, corporate relationships, and managerial behavior with the aim of explaining and predicting corporate behavior. Normative research has been led by scholars in the fields of moral philosophy, theology and legal theory. Empirical research has been led by scholars in the fields of sociology, psychology, economics, marketing, finance, and management. While utilizing distinct methods, the two approaches are symbiotic. Ethical and legal theory are irrelevant without factual context. Similarly, empirical theories are sterile unless translated into corporate guidance. The following description of the history of research in corporate ethics demonstrates that normative research methods are indispensable tools for empirical inquiry, even as empirical methods are indispensable tools for normative inquiry.

Article

Individualism-Collectivism: A Review of Conceptualization and Measurement  

Chao C. Chen and Ali F. Unal

The concept of individualism-collectivism (I-C) has been a prominent construct in philosophy, political science, sociology, psychology, and organization and management. Its meaning may vary greatly in scope, content, and levels of analysis, depending on the fields of inquiry and the phenomenon of interest. We focus on I-C as it relates to values, identities, motives, and behaviors in the context of organization and management. At its core, I-C is about self-collective relationships and the impact they have on the relational dynamics and outcomes at various levels of analysis. Theory and research have identified patterns of contrasts between individualism and collectivism. While the individualist orientation emphasizes individual self-identity, personal agency, and values that tend to prioritize individuals over collectives, the collectivist orientation emphasizes individuals’ collective identity, collective agency, and values that tend to prioritize collectives over individuals. Various I-C conceptions have been critically evaluated with the focus on basic assumptions regarding the nature of individualism and collectivism as unidimensional, bidimensional, or multidimensional constructs, and whether or not individualism and collectivism are conceived as inherently oppositional or complementary to form a high-order construct. Specifically, previous reviews of culture and value studies in general, and of I-C studies in particular, acknowledge the possibility that individualist and collectivist orientations may coexist within a diverse society, organization, or group, and that those orientations may change over time or evolve to tackle emergent survival challenges. However, most previous reviews continue to focus on the unitary construct of I-C composed of two entities as polar opposites of each other, the high of one meaning the low of the other. Over time, instead of or in addition to the initial unidimensional conception of I-C, research has adopted the bidimensional or multidimensional conceptions. Furthermore, more of bi- or multidimensional conceptions have adopted the unipolar approach. That is, maintaining I-C as a high-order construct, individualism and collectivism are conceived as independent dimensions of I-C, each varies on a separate continuum, making it possible that individuals, groups and societies may be categorized on the various combinations of individualism and collectivism. The advantages of the multidimensional approach have been emphasized, but issues of conceptual muddiness have also been raised, together with the challenges of theory-based research. It is recommended that I-C researchers be mindful of conceptual equivalence in developing I-C constructs and measurements and consider the optimal distinctiveness theory and the dialectic perspective as two potential overarching perspectives for comparative research on I-C. Finally, areas of future research have been identified as fertile fields for generating knowledge and understanding of I-C.

Article

Intersectionality Theory and Practice  

Doyin Atewologun

Intersectionality is a critical framework that provides us with the mindset and language for examining interconnections and interdependencies between social categories and systems. Intersectionality is relevant for researchers and for practitioners because it enhances analytical sophistication and offers theoretical explanations of the ways in which heterogeneous members of specific groups (such as women) might experience the workplace differently depending on their ethnicity, sexual orientation, and/or class and other social locations. Sensitivity to such differences enhances insight into issues of social justice and inequality in organizations and other institutions, thus maximizing the chance of social change. The concept of intersectional locations emerged from the racialized experiences of minority ethnic women in the United States. Intersectional thinking has gained increased prominence in business and management studies, particularly in critical organization studies. A predominant focus in this field is on individual subjectivities at intersectional locations (such as examining the occupational identities of minority ethnic women). This emphasis on individuals’ experiences and within-group differences has been described variously as “content specialization” or an “intracategorical approach.” An alternate focus in business and management studies is on highlighting systematic dynamics of power. This encompasses a focus on “systemic intersectionality” and an “intercategorical approach.” Here, scholars examine multiple between-group differences, charting shifting configurations of inequality along various dimensions. As a critical theory, intersectionality conceptualizes knowledge as situated, contextual, relational, and reflective of political and economic power. Intersectionality tends to be associated with qualitative research methods due to the central role of giving voice, elicited through focus groups, narrative interviews, action research, and observations. Intersectionality is also utilized as a methodological tool for conducting qualitative research, such as by researchers adopting an intersectional reflexivity mindset. Intersectionality is also increasingly associated with quantitative and statistical methods, which contribute to intersectionality by helping us understand and interpret the individual, combined (additive or multiplicative) effects of various categories (privileged and disadvantaged) in a given context. Future considerations for intersectionality theory and practice include managing its broad applicability while attending to its sociopolitical and emancipatory aims, and theoretically advancing understanding of the simultaneous forces of privilege and penalty in the workplace.