Bringing Excitement to Empirical Business Ethics Research: Thoughts on the Future of Business Ethics
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Scientific articles 
Original versionJournal of Business Ethics. 2022, (180), 903-916. 10.1007/s10551-022-05242-7
To commemorate 40 years since the founding of the Journal of Business Ethics, the editors-in-chief of the journal have invited the editors to provide commentaries on the future of business ethics. This essay comprises a selection of commentaries aimed at creating dialog around the theme Bringing Excitement to Empirical Business Ethics Research (inspired by the title of the commentary by Babalola and van Gils). These editors, considering the diversity of empirical approaches in business ethics, envisage a future in which quantitative business ethics research is more bold and innovative, as well as reflexive about its techniques, and dialog between quantitative and qualitative research nourishes the enrichment of both. In their commentary, Babalola and van Gils argue that leadership research has stagnated with the use of too narrow a range of perspectives and methods and too many overlapping concepts. They propose that novel insights could be achieved by investigating the lived experience of leadership (through interviews, document analysis, archival data); by focusing on topics of concern to society; by employing different personal, philosophical, or cultural perspectives; and by turning the lens on the heroic leader (through “dark-side” and follower studies). Taking a provocative stance, Bal and Garcia-Lorenzo argue that we need radical voices in current times to enable a better understanding of the psychology underlying ethical transformations. Psychology can support business ethics by not shying away from grander ideas, going beyond the margins of “unethical behaviors harming the organization” and expanding the range of lenses used to studying behavior in context. In the arena of finance and business ethics, Guedhami, Liang, and Shailer emphasize novel data sets and innovative methods. Significantly, they stress that an understanding the intersection of finance and ethics is central to business ethics; financial equality and inclusion are persistent socio-economic and political concerns that are not always framed as ethics issues, yet relevant business policies and practices manifest ethical values. Finally, Charles Cho offers his opinion on the blurry line between the “ethical” versus “social” or “critical” aspects of accounting papers. The Journal of Business Ethics provides fertile ground for innovative, even radical, approaches to quantitative methods (see Zyphur and Pierides in J Bus Ethics 143(1):1–16, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-017-3549-8, 2017), as part of a broad goal of ethically reflecting on empirical research.