Business Ethics Literature Review Essays

The study of business ethics and its implications for different stakeholders have seen tremendous growth in the past few decades. There has also been a rise in the use and development of codes of ethics and announcements for ethical practices by many firms; however companies are still criticized for their unethical practices at different levels (, 2006). Business ethics, according to the literature has been entrenched with the philosophical details of Ethics (Trevino & Nelson, 1999). Ethics has been defined as ‘the activity of examining the moral standards of a society, and asking how these standards apply to ones life and whether these standards are reasonable’ (Velasquez, 1998; p. 11).

The literature on business ethics is divided on its views about the motivation and reason for businesses to have an ethical dimension. Drawing upon

Business ethics has been considered very subjective in nature and according to Paul (2001) is considered a function of time and culture. It has been established that with the passage of time business ethics have evolved and also that the cultural values and norms drive business ethics within national and regional boundaries. One of the major studies regarding the national values has been conducted by Hofstede (1983). According to this research, which was only based on four indicators i.e. individualism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance and masculinity, there is a great deal of differences among values across different nations and consequently the business ethics. Globalization combined with standardization has made businesses financially efficient but at the same time poses questions regarding the standardized codes of business ethics across national boundaries.

Vinten (1991) has divided the business ethical issues at different levels i.e. international business, domestic business and professional ethics. At the international level ethical issues include free-masonry and socialism versus capitalism; at domestic level these include religious dimensions, social marketing and ethical education; and lastly at the individual level these include bribery, corruption and data protection (, 2006).

There are many reasons and criticisms for the failure of adoption of ethics in the business world. Firstly, the concept is considered to be overly theoretical and it also negates the basic purpose of any business i.e. to create shareholder’s wealth. Secondly, it has lack of direction and unanimity across different cultures and academic groups. Lastly, it has many inherent unresolved dichotomies that according to Sternberg (1994) make it a case of rejected relativism. 


Harrison, J. (2001), Ethics for Australian Business, Prentice-Hall, French’s

Hofstede, G. (1983), The Cultural Relativity of Organizational Practices and Theories, Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp.75-89

Papers For You (2006) "S/B/92. What distinguishes ethical from unethical business activity and how significant are the principles of business ethics in modern business?", Available from [17/06/2006]

Papers For You (2006) "S/B/49. 'Should businesses strive to be ethical?' Critically Discuss", Available from [18/06/2006]

Paul, S. (2001), Cultural and Business Ethics, Cross Cultural Management: An international Journal, Volume 8 No. 1, pp 22-35

Sternberg, E. (1994), Relativism rejected: the possibility of transnational business ethics, in Hoffman, W.M., Kamm, J.B., Frederick, R.E., Petry, E.S. Jr (Eds), National Conference on Business Ethics. Proceedings from the 9th Conference on Business Ethics Sponsored by the Centre for Business Ethics at Bentley College, Quorum Books, New York, NY, pp.143-50

Trevino, L.K., Nelson, K.A. (1999), Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk about How to Do It Right, 2nd ed., J. Wiley & Sons,

Velasquez, M.G. (1998), Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases, 4th ed., Prentice-Hall, Cliffs, NJ

Vinten, G. (1991), Business Ethics: Busybody or Corporate Conscience?, Managerial Auditing Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, pp. 123-144

  • Ackoff, R. L.: 1987, 'Business Ethics and the Entrepreneur', Journal of Business Venturing2, 185-191.Google Scholar

  • Aldrich, H. and E. R. Auster: 1986, 'Even Dwarfs Started Small: Liabilities of Age and Size and Their Strategic Implications', Research in Organizational Behavior8, 165-198.Google Scholar

  • Baron, R. A.: 1998, 'Cognitive Mechanisms in Entrepreneurship: Why and When Entrepreneurs Think Differently Than Other People', Journal of Business Venturing13(4), 275-294.Google Scholar

  • Baumol, W. J.: 1986, 'Entrepreneurship and a Century of Growth', Journal of Business Venturing1(2), 141-145.Google Scholar

  • Baumol, W. J.: 1990, 'Entrepreneurship: Productive, Unproductive, and Destructive', Journal of Political Economy98(5), 893-921.Google Scholar

  • Barrier, M.: 1994, 'Innovation as a Way of Life', Nation's Business82 (July), 18-25.Google Scholar

  • Bhide, A.: 1996, 'The Questions Every Entrepreneur Must Answer', Harvard Business Review74, 120-130.Google Scholar

  • Birley, S.: 1989, 'Female Entrepreneurs: Are They Really Any Different?' Journal of Small Business Management27(1), 32-37.Google Scholar

  • Boyd, D. P. and D. E. Gumpert: 1983, 'Coping with Entrepreneurial Stress', Harvard Business Review61(2), 44-64.Google Scholar

  • Brenkert, G. G.: 2002, 'Entrepreneurship, Ethics, and the Good Society', The Ruffin Series3, 5-43.Google Scholar

  • Brown, N. O.: 1947, Hermes, the Thief (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press).Google Scholar

  • Buttner, E. H.: 2001, 'Examining Female Entrepreneurs' Management Style: An Application of a Relational Frame', Journal of Business Ethics29, 253-269.Google Scholar

  • Chau, L. L. and Siu, W.: 2000, 'Ethical Decision-Making in Corporate Entrepreneurial Organizations', Journal of Business Ethics23, 365-375.Google Scholar

  • Collins, O. and D. G. Moore: 1970, The Organization Makers: A Behavioral Study of Independent Entrepreneurs (Appleton Century Cross, New York).Google Scholar

  • Corriveau, L.: 1994, 'Entrepreneurs, Growth, and Cycles', Economica61 (February), 1-15.Google Scholar

  • Daneke, G. A.: 1989, 'Technological Entrepreneurship as a Focal Point of Economic Development Policy: A Conceptual Re-Assessment', Policy Studies Journal17(3), 643-655.Google Scholar

  • Davidson, A. B. and R. B. Ekelund: 1994, 'Can Entrepreneurship Be “Unproductive?” Towards An Evolutionary Interpretation', Review of Social Economy52, 266-279.Google Scholar

  • Dees, J. G. and J. A. Starr: 1992, 'Entrepreneurship Through an Ethical Lens: Dilemmas and Issues for Research and Practice', in D. L. Sexton and J. D. Kasarda (eds.), The State of the Art of Entrepreneurship (PWS-Kent, Boston), pp. 89-116.Google Scholar

  • El-Namaki, M. S.: 1988, 'Encouraging Entrepreneurs in Developing Countries', Long Range Planning21(4), 98-106.Google Scholar

  • Etzioni, A.: 1987, 'Entrepreneurship, Adaptation, and Legitimation: A Macro-behavioral Perspective', Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization8, 175-189.Google Scholar

  • Freeman, R. E. and S. Venkataraman (eds.): 2002, Ethics and Entrepreneurship. The Ruffin Series No. 3. A Publication of the Society for Business Ethics (Philosophy Documentation Center, Charlottesville, VA).Google Scholar

  • Fuxman, L.: 1997, 'Ethical Dilemmas of Doing Business in Post-Soviet Ukraine', Journal of Business Ethics16, 1273-1282.Google Scholar

  • Gartner, W. B.: 1985, 'A Conceptual Framework for Describing the Phenomenon of New Venture Creation', Academy of Management Review10(4), 696-706.Google Scholar

  • Godfrey, J.: 1988, 'Ethics as an Intrapreneurial Venture', New Management5(4), 58-59.Google Scholar

  • Harper, M.: 1991, 'Enterprise Development in Poorer Nations', Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice15, 7-11.Google Scholar

  • Hisrich, R. D.: 1998, Ethics of Business Managers vs. Entrepreneurs. Working Paper Series 98-03 (Rise Business Research Institute for Small and Emerging Business, Washington, DC).Google Scholar

  • Hyatt, J.: 1990, 'The Parent Trap', Inc. (October), 48-62.Google Scholar

  • Jarillo, J. C.: 1989, 'Entrepreneurship and Growth: The Strategic Use of External Resources', Journal of Business Venturing4, 133-147.Google Scholar

  • Karayiannis, A. D.: 1992, 'Entrepreneurship in Classical Greek Literature', South African Journal of Economics60, 67-93.Google Scholar

  • Kirchhoff, B. A.: 1987, 'Examining Entrepreneurship's Role in Economic Growth', in Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research. Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Babson College, Wellesley, MA), pp. 57-71.Google Scholar

  • Kirchhoff, B. A.: 1991, 'Entrepreneurship's Contribution to Economics', Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice16, 93-112.Google Scholar

  • Leibenstein, H.: 1968, 'Entrepreneurship and Development', American Economic Review58, 72-83.Google Scholar

  • Longenecker, J. G., J. A. McKinney and C. W. Moore: 1989a, 'Do Smaller Firms Have Higher Ethics?' Business and Society Review71, 19-21.Google Scholar

  • Longenecker, J. G., J. A. McKinney and C. W. Moore: 1989b, 'Ethics in Small Business', Journal of Small Business Management27, 27-31.Google Scholar

  • Longenecker, J. G., J. A. McKinney and C. W. Moore: 1988, 'Egoism and Independence: Entrepreneurial Ethics', Organizational Dynamics16, 64-72.Google Scholar

  • McClelland, D. C.: 1961, The Achieving Society (D. Van Nostrand, New York).Google Scholar

  • Osborne, R. L.: 1994, 'Second Phase Entrepreneurship: Breaking Through the Growth Wall', Business Horizons (January-February), 80-86.Google Scholar

  • Osborne, R. L.: 1991, 'The Dark Side of the Entrepreneur', Long Range Planning24, 26-31.Google Scholar

  • Payne, S. L. and D. L. Duhon: 1990, 'Hard Time Ethics and the Small Business Entrepreneur', Business Insights9(2), 29-32.Google Scholar

  • Powell, S. S.: 1990, The Entrepreneur as the Mainspring of Economic Growth (Stanford University, The Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA).Google Scholar

  • Radaev, V.: 1994, 'On Some Features of the Normative Behavior of the New Russian Entrepreneurs', Problems of Economic Transition37(8), 17-28.Google Scholar

  • Radaev, V.: 1993, 'Emerging Russian Entrepreneurship As Viewed by the Experts', Economic and Industrial Democracy14 (Supplement), 55-77.Google Scholar

  • Sage, G.: 1993, 'Entrepreneurship as an Economic Development Strategy', Economic Development Review11(2), 66-67.Google Scholar

  • Schein, E. H.: 1983, 'The Role of the Founder in Creating Organizational Culture', Organizational Dynamics12(1), 13-28.Google Scholar

  • Schmitz, J. A.: 1989, 'Imitation, Entrepreneurship, and Long-Run Growth', Journal of Political Economy97(3), 721-739.Google Scholar

  • Schon, D. A.: 1967, Technology and Change: The New Heraclitus (Delacorte Press, New York).Google Scholar

  • Schumpeter, J. A.: 1942, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (Harper, New York and London).Google Scholar

  • Shapero, A.: 1985, 'Why Entrepreneurship? A Worldwide Perspective', Journal of Small Business Management23, 1-5.Google Scholar

  • Starr, J. A. and I. C. MacMillan: 1990, 'Resource Cooptation Via Social Contracting: Resource Acquisition Strategies for New Ventures', Strategic Management Journal11, 79-92.Google Scholar

  • Teal, E. J. and A. B. Carroll: 1999, 'Moral Reasoning Skills: Are Entrepreneurs Different?' Journal of Business Ethics19, 229-240.Google Scholar

  • 0 Thoughts to “Business Ethics Literature Review Essays

    Leave a comment

    L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *