Positive Business Ethics

Jason M. Stansbury and Scott Sonenshein

in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199734610
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Positive Business Ethics

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Although the normative business ethics literature elaborates positive visions of the “good,” the behavioral ethics literature primarily focuses on unethical behaviors or decision processes that either lead to or prevent those behaviors. The former literature is valuable for rigorously defining what makes “positive” phenomena so, thereby philosophically grounding “positive”—something that has been often only implicit in positive organizational scholarship (POS). To better theorize a positive counterpart to unethical behavior, this chapter defines a construct called “good works,” which are behaviors that are morally praiseworthy, discretionary, and positively deviant. Elucidation of these three criteria based on their theoretical foundations helps to distinguish good works from other related behaviors. The chapter proposes a model of the decision process that precedes good works, based in part upon moral identity, moral imagination, and the sensemaking intuition model, and concludes with directions for future research into the individual and organizational antecedents and consequences of good works.

Keywords: Positive; ethics; behavioral ethics; normative ethics; moral identity; moral imagination; sensemaking–intuition model; supererogation; positive deviance

Article.  9419 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Organizational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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