Ethics in Research

Edward Wray-Bliss

in Management

ISBN: 9780199846740
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:
Ethics in Research

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When compared to a number of other areas of the social sciences—sociology and anthropology being perhaps the best examples—discussions and debates around research ethics in the field of management are quite limited, both in number and scope. This is likely the consequence of a number of interrelated factors. It may speak to issues of the constitution of management faculty, the frequent separation of the business school from other parts of the university, or the historic construction of what is considered to be the role of the business school and management research in society. For whatever other reasons it has occurred, one of the factors must be the relatively homogenous nature of the field of management and organization studies—a field dominated by positivist research and a broadly functionalist, managerial orientation. In any field of inquiry largely constituted by conventional epistemological and ontological approaches, assumptions about “normal science” emerge and the impetus to question and debate, or indeed to defend, the ethics of normalized research practices is diminished. For many, the field of research ethics in management remains a formal process of compliance, requiring little discussion or reflection; it is a process of following a predefined code and satisfying the ethical review committee or institutional review board of one’s institution. Understood thus, ethics in management research is seen as something akin to a hurdle to be overcome by requisite form filling at the start of a research project. This is a limited—and limiting—understanding of ethical issues in management research. As the contributions cited in this bibliography attest, issues of ethics span the entire research process—from conception, through execution, to publication, and beyond. Assumptions regarding the purpose and value of research constitute an ethical warrant, legitimizing the very conduct of research in the first place. Additionally, the constitution of the management academy itself and its process of publication, citation, and review raises a number of ethical issues and concerns. Finally, management scholarship that draws on explicitly critical theoretical traditions and nonpositivist or antipositivist research approaches has heightened the questioning of conventional research practices and assumptions—generating critiques and some defenses of research ethics in management. This article maps out a significant proportion of the work and resources in the management academy that engage with such issues and debates.

Article.  7105 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management

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