Some business leaders are considering ways of incorporating more benevolence into managerial practices.
How does this work in a profit-focused context?
See this week’s research tidbits

Practical ethics of care in residential nursing homes
In this paper, the authors argue that ‘good care’ in residential nursing homes is enacted through different care practices that are either inspired by a ‘professional logic of care’ that aims for justice and non-maleficence in the professional treatment of residents, or by a ‘relational logic of care’, which attends to the relational quality and the meaning of interpersonal connectedness in people’s lives.

Rather than favoring one care logic over the other, this paper indicates how important aspects of care are constantly negotiated between different care practices. Based on the intricate everyday negotiations observed during an ethnographic field study at an elderly nursing home in Germany, the paper puts forth the argument that care is always a matter of tinkering with different, sometimes competing ‘goods’.

This tinkering process, which unfolds through ‘intuitive deliberation’, ‘situated assessment’ and ‘affective juggling’ is then theorized along the conceptualization of a ‘practical ethics of care’: an ethics which makes no a priori judgments of what may be considered as good or bad care, but instead calls for momentary judgments that are pliable across changing situations.

Katharina Molterer, Patrizia Hoyer & Chris Steyaert. 2020. A Practical Ethics of Care: Tinkering with Different ‘Goods’ in Residential Nursing Homes..

Journal of Business Ethics, 165(1), 95–111.

Formal and informal benevolence in a profit-oriented context
Faced with the disenchantment and disengagement expressed by their employees, business leaders are considering ways of incorporating more benevolence into managerial practices. Nevertheless, ‘benevolence’—care and concern for the well-being of others—has not yet been studied in an organizational profit-focused context.

In this paper, the authors seek to investigate the emergence and practice of benevolence with an eye on profit and performance. They begin by investigating the main ethical approaches to benevolence—virtue ethical, utilitarian, and deontological. Then, based on an empirical study (in the context of an upward feedback system in a consulting firm), they identify two distinct types of benevolence.

On the one hand, formal benevolence is defined and monitored by the organizational processes and actions of leaders; it is understood by all concerned to be bounded by organizational performance. On the other hand, informal benevolence exists at the margin of these processes, in interpersonal and discretionary relationships.

The authors set out to analyze these two types of benevolence and the complementarity between them and also discuss to what extent they can be managed, teasing out some implications for managers and some potential avenues for further research.

Guillaume Mercier & Ghislain Deslandes. 2020. Formal and Informal Benevolence in a Profit-Oriented Context.

Journal of Business Ethics, 165(1), 125–143.

Has the concept of Bottom/Base of the Pyramid delivered on its promise?
Sixteen years ago, Prahalad and Hart (Strategy + Business 26:2–14, 2002) introduced the possibility of both profitably serving the poor and alleviating poverty. This first iteration of the Bottom/Base of the Pyramid approach (known as BoP 1.0) focused on selling to the poor.

In 2008, after ethical criticisms leveled at it, the field moved to BoP 2.0, instead emphasizing business co-venturing. Since 2015, we have witnessed some calls for a new iteration (BoP 3.0), with the focus broadening to a more sustainable development approach to poverty alleviation.

In this paper, the authorsseek to answer the question: How has the BoP approach evolved over the past 16 years, and has it delivered on its early promise? They conducted a systematic review of 276 papers published in journals in this period, utilizing a rigorous correspondence analysis method to map key trends, and then further examined the 22 empirical studies conducted on the BoP approach.

The results suggest that the field has evolved, passing through a number of trends and coming full circle—with the authors’ analysis pointing to more recent BoP literature emphasizing similar themes to those espoused in the initial BoP iteration (i.e., treating the BoP as consumers), rather than reflecting the principles espoused in either BoP 2.0 or BoP 3.0.

The analysis also points to a lack of clear evidence that the BoP concept has delivered on its promise either to businesses (that they can serve BoP markets profitably) or to BoP participants (that involvement by multinational corporations will help alleviate poverty).

Krzysztof Dembek, Nagaraj Sivasubramaniam & Danielle A. Chmielewski. 2020. A Systematic Review of the Bottom/Base of the Pyramid Literature: Cumulative Evidence and Future Directions.

Journal of Business Ethics, 165(3), 365–382.

Social enterprises promote wellbeing
By addressing social issues, rather than maximizing profits, social enterprises are said to contribute to the well-being of societies. In this paper, the authors test whether social enterprises fulfil this expectation.

The paper applies regression analysis to a unique dataset obtained by merging survey data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor with official statistics on social enterprises in Luxembourg. Results suggest that social enterprises contribute to subjective well-being, which is an encompassing measure of people’s satisfaction with their own life.

The authors find that when the share of social enterprises in a city increases, the ill-being of poor and unemployed people declines. Therefore, policy makers who seek to increase the well-being of economically disadvantaged people could adopt policies to promote the creation of social enterprises.

Francesco Sarracino & Luca Fumarco. 2020. Assessing the Non-financial Outcomes of Social Enterprises in Luxembourg.

Journal of Business Ethics, 165(3), 425–451.