Managerial Ethics: Moral Management of People and Processes

By Marshall Schminke | Go to book overview
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Management and Ethics: Distant Neighbors in Theory and Research

Marshall Schminke Creighton University

Strike up a conversation about business and before long the talk will turn to ethics. Business and ethics are wedded in our social consciousness like Gilbert and Sullivan, Laurel and Hardy, or Fred and Ginger (albeit not always as positively!). This chapter explores the often stormy relationship between business and ethics theory and research and seeks to understand and to strengthen the ties between the two.

The chapter begins with a brief review of recent work addressing the state of business ethics research. Next, it proposes an agenda for overcoming some of the well-noted problems in integrating business and ethics. Finally, it outlines the remaining chapters in the volume, thus providing a template for expanding our thinking about business ethics research.


Popper ( 1972) distinguished between social systems that are like clocks and those that are like clouds ( Cropanzano Schminke, in press; Guzzo Shea, 1990). Clocks are rational, orderly machines. Their parts move in predictable ways and in predictable relationships to other parts. Alternatively, clouds are neither predictable nor orderly. To the extent that they have parts, they do not move in clearly defined or predictable ways in relation to their other parts. From a distance, they appear to be substantial objects with clear boundaries. However, up close, they are fuzzy, flexible, organic creations.


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