Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society

Volume 10, 1999

Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Meeting

Mary-Ellen Boyle
Pages 47-58

The Work of the Corporate Ethics Officer
Moral Labor and Social Trusteeship

Corporate ethics officers pose a provocative challenge to the contention that elite professionals have amassed technical expertise at the expense of moral authority and social trusteeship (Brint 1994). In this paper I question whether ethics officers, by virtue of their specialization, do work that can be considered "moral," and I inquire as to the extent to which they embrace a social trusteeship role. Situating the discussion in the literature on professionalization and the professional/organizational conflict, I suggest several hypotheses to guide forthcoming empirical work. Unintended consequences of the professionalization of ethics officers are discussed.