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Business and Professional Ethics Journal


Special Topic Forum

“Do We Already Have Enough Business Ethics?”

Guest Editor: Wayne Eastman
Rutgers Business School
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Business and Professional Ethics Journal invites submissions to a Special Topic Forum on business ethics as an ascendant ethic that has helped constitute, and that is in turn constituted by, the highly productive economic and cultural orders of industrial and post-industrial societies.

The broad purpose of the special topic forum is to explore an alternative, critical understanding of business ethics. That alternative understanding is grounded in the idea that business ethics can be understood not as the application of general ethics to business, but rather as a practical, phlegmatic, pragmatic ethic, similar to what Weber called the Protestant ethic. In this critical understanding, business ethics is an ethic that has become ascendant in certain parts of the world and in certain cultures, and that fosters work, instrumental rationality, and anonymous trust.

As the forum title indicates, we welcome contributions that argue for, or against, relevant normative propositions. In particular, we are interested in contributions that address either or both of the following questions: 1) whether business ethicists should be working to extend business ethics to new domains, such as public schools; and 2) whether business ethicists should be working for the rise of a psychologically-oriented, sanguine ethics that promotes human flourishing better than business ethics and earlier ascendant ethics have done. We are also interested in receiving positively-oriented ethnographic, empirical, or analytical contributions that consider business ethics as an ascendant ethic, both in itself and in relation to other, earlier ascendant ethics, such as the “good-bad” warrior ethics and the “good-evil” priestly ethics described by Nietzsche.

The special issue will include an editor’s essay summarizing the contributions and describing the idea that business ethics is an ascendant ethic--the software of modernity--rather than a small academic field with limited sway. Potential contributors may wish to consult "Why Business Ethics Matters, AKA Value Competition" for a source that contains material similar to what will be included in the essay.

Submission Instructions

Authors are requested to submit a 5-10 pp. paper outline and prospectus to guest editor Wayne Eastman ([email protected]) by March 1, 2017.

The guest editor will review submitted papers and, in consultation with the journal editors, determine where accepted papers will be published based on fit with the journal's editorial aims. The final versions of submitted papers should follow the journal’s guidelines for authors.

  • March 1, 2017: Paper outline and prospectus submitted to the Special Topic Forum
  • April 1, 2017: Invitations to authors to submit full papers
  • May 1, 2017: Submissions of full papers to the Special Topic Forum
  • June 1, 2017: Reviews; invitations to authors to revise and resubmit
  • August 1, 2017: Revised papers submitted to the Special Topic Forum
  • October 1, 2017: Delivery of accepted contributions by the guest editor to the Journal.


Special Issue

“Benefit Corporations: Ethics and Efficacy of a New Corporate Form”

Edited by David Steingard, Acting Director
Pedro Arrupe Center for Business Ethics
Saint Joseph’s University

Benefit Corporations represent a novel legal and organizational form of business incorporation that specifically requires companies to make a “material positive impact on society and the environment and to meet higher standards of accountability and transparency” (http://benefitcorp.net). Research on Benefit Corporations falls within the domain of hybrid organizations working to integrate competing tensions of profits and principles in business. Organizational forms and management practices in this research domain are often characterized by these designations: profit-with-purpose; fourth sector; cross-sector social interactions; cross-sector social partnerships; social enterprise; sustainable management; shared value creation; strategic stakeholder management; corporate social responsibility; mission-driven, and triple bottom-line.

This special issue invites theoretical, empirical, and practice-oriented papers examining Benefit Corporations in terms of two interrelated themes—ethics and efficacy. Ethics critically evaluates the normative and theoretical assumptions of the Benefit Corporation as a vehicle to deliver positive social and environmental impact. Efficacy examines, from practitioner and empirical perspectives, the degree to which the Benefit Corporation is able to deliver on its stated design objectives within the contemporary capitalist economy.

The following questions suggest possible areas of inquiry:

  • Do Benefit Corporations represent a significant improvement on existing legal, theoretical, and organizational forms of business working to integrate profits and principles?

  • What is the normative ethical analysis of Benefit Corporations—is the good they produce good enough?

  • How can we assess the substantive contribution of Benefit Corporations to a larger movement of capitalism that integrates positive social and environmental impact into its mission, culture, and strategy? (Robson, 2015). Do Benefit Corporations in practice retard progress of this movement? (André, 2015). How, if at all, do Benefit Corporations relate to the Business and Human Rights movement (Cragg, Arnold, and Muchlinski, 2012)?

  • What are the experiences of existing Benefit Corporations from the practitioner point of view? What can we learn from practitioners to make Benefit Corporations more effective? What can we learn from failed Benefit Corporations?

  • What are legal concerns about Benefit Corporations? What legislative advancements to Benefit Corporations are needed to increase their effectiveness in delivering social and environmental impact? Are Benefit corporations legally necessary—can a new “impact economy” (https://www.bcorporation.net) be achieved without them?

PAPERS DUE: May 1, 2016

Submission guidelines available at www.pdcnet.org/bpej/Submission-Guidelines.

Please send inquiries, proposals and papers electronically to: [email protected].

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