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RESEARCH METHODSBS4S141Research MethodsTopic’s learning objectives:Ethics in business research(Adapted from Research Methods for Business Students (Saunders et al. 2011))
RESEARCH METHODSBS4S142Ethics in business researchEthics has always been a part of business practice, thinking and education. In fact the educational field of ethics predates that of business. Ethics, however, is becoming increasingly central to business and research rather than something peripheral. This is partly because of the many organizations ceased to exist in the last few years due to unethical behaviour such as Enron and Lehman Brothers. As research plays a role in how organizations understand the world and shape their decisions ethics is an integral part of research. So far we have given an overview of why ethical behaviour is in the interest of the organization but there is an additional dimension in research which involves the participants in data collection and anyone else who is affected in any way. These considerations are far less in humanities and business than in other areas such as medicine but there are still important issues. The expansion of data and our ability to collect it also raise issues of personal data privacy. Beyond it being beneficial and the right thing to do, ethics is increasingly being legislated such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act 2002 that requires publicly listed organizations in America to publish their code of ethics. While ethics is different to law upholding, promoting a code of ethics can pre-empt actions that may eventually lead to the law being broken. Ethics is also related to corporate social responsibility but that is not our focus here. Some useful definitions are: ‘First of all, do no harm’ Hippocratic Oath. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ Anonymous, known as the golden rule. ‘Each individual scientist has the ethical responsibility to seek knowledge and strive to improve the quality of life’ (Shaughnessy et al. 2000).