A selection of interesting articles we found recently on ethics in management systems.

Values-based management in the Tunisian food processing industry
The present research is an attempt to determine the contribution of the management system and the institutional framework to the efficiency of values-based management (VBM). The interest in the question of efficiency stems from the fact that to grasp this founding principle of management is essential for any effort of evaluation and valuation accompanying the adoption of any type of management.

The researchers’ choice of an organisational variable as well as an environmental one to explain the phenomenon of efficiency, intends to cover sources of influence, both internal and external to the organisation. As such, this study addresses the following question: What is the effect of the management system and the institutional framework on the efficiency of values-based management?

The main theoretical and empirical results reveal that these two variables contribute jointly to the efficiency of VBM. More precisely, the empirical results obtained, in particular through the canonical correlation analysis, specify that both variables influence the efficiency of VBM in different degrees, with the effect of the management system being superior. The latter explains the efficiency of the management by the values at a rate of 52.59 %, whereas the institutional framework explains it only up to 25.15 %.

See more at: Wafa Ben Ahmed Naouar. 2016. Contribution of the management system and the institutional framework to the efficiency of values-based management: case of the Tunisian food processing industry.
Journal of Business Ethics, 135(4), 787-796.


Changing social and environmental reporting systems
Based on a case study of a large multinational group, this paper addresses the way in which social and environmental reporting (SER) systems were changed and the consequences and controversies associated with this change. Drawing on Power’s work on the processes by which things are made auditable via underlying systems, Kaspersen & Johansen focus on how and why a specific program with auditability as its ultimate aim changed the basis on which the external social and environmental report was prepared.

Their analysis demonstrates that the perceived alignment with the financial report preparation and the explicit pursuit of auditability legitimised SER and paved the way for data systems to be changed. The program borrowed authority from financial accounting technologies not only to make a system change but also to push SER internally, as the authors suggest that an intraorganisational group used the program to ensure the existence and organisational status of SER. However, the authors also illustrate some of the practical challenges associated with this change, which include issues related to internal control and the establishment of organisational boundaries.

Find out more: Mia Kaspersen & Thomas Riise Johansen. 2016. Changing social and environmental reporting systems.
Journal Of Business Ethics, 135(4), 731-749.


Relationships between fair trade organisations and corporate retailers: Institutional logics and power asymmetries
This paper explores an empirical puzzle, namely, how inter-organisational relationships can be sustained between organisations that draw upon distinctive—and potentially conflicting—institutional logics under conditions of power asymmetry. This research analyses cases of these relationships and suggests some key conditions underlying them. Examining relationships between ‘Fair Trade’ organisations and corporate retailers, a series of contingent factors behind the dynamic persistence of such relationships are proposed, namely: the presence of pre-existing ‘hybrid logics’; the use of boundary-spanning discourses; joint tolerance of conflict; and co-creation of common rules.

These four elements are supported by a fifth mediating factor, i.e. the presence and use of a Fair Trade certification system in the collaboration. The latter appears as a central vehicle facilitating cross-logic relationships—it can be seen as a ‘boundary object’ embodying a series of narratives and discourses that are open to multiple interpretations corresponding to the dominant institutional logics of each partner organisation.

Full info: Alex Nicholls & Benjamin Huybrechts. 2016. Sustaining inter-organizational relationships across institutional logics and power asymmetries: the case of fair trade. 
Journal Of Business Ethics, 135(4), 699-714.


Determinants of GHG reporting: An analysis of global oil and gas companies
Corporate reporting on climate change is of increasing academic interest but is often considered solely from the firm perspective. This article extends current knowledge by considering how institutional pressures influence the greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting practices of multinational oil and gas companies. The results show that regulation under the EU emissions trading scheme and reporting according to the global reporting initiative (GRI) guidelines leads to better quality and more extensive reporting.

Although generally adopting proactive climate change strategies, European companies do not have superior GHG reporting practices. Corporate media visibility does not impact GHG reporting practices which may be a reflection of the obscure portrayal of climate change in the print media or the fact that coverage is generally positive.

This article adds to the current literature on GHG reporting practices demonstrating that institutional theory along with stakeholder theory and legitimacy theory can give further insights into explaining the GHG reporting practices of multinational companies.

See: Breeda Comyns. 2016. Determinants of GHG Reporting: An Analysis of Global Oil and Gas Companies.
Journal of Business Ethics, 136(2), 349-369.


Company–community agreements, gender and development
Company–community agreements are widely considered to be a practical mechanism for recognising the rights, needs and priorities of peoples impacted by mining, for managing impacts and ensuring that mining-derived benefits are shared. The use and application of company–community agreements is increasing globally. Notwithstanding the utility of these agreements, the gender dimensions of agreement processes in mining have rarely been studied.

Prior research on women and mining demonstrates that women are often more adversely impacted by mining than men, and face greater challenges in accessing development opportunities that mining can bring. Nonetheless, there is currently little guidance for companies, government or communities in bringing a gender perspective to the fore in mining and agreement processes. It is undisputed in human development literature that investment in women and sensitivity to gender delivers long-term health, education and local development outcomes.In mining and development, a number of key factors remain unexplored. These include: women’s participation in agreement processes, the gendered distribution of agreement benefits, and the extent to which impacts and benefits influence women’s development and economic inclusion.

This paper presents the results of the first phase of an applied research project undertaken by the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM) at The University of Queensland and funded by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The project sought to connect with experienced practitioners who had been directly involved in mining and agreement processes to document and analyse grounded perspectives on gender dynamics and agreements, and connect those experiences with the broader literature.

Findings from this study have implications for the role of mining companies and governments in promoting gender equality and empowerment as part of their commitments to sustainable development. They also have implications for community groups and their representatives in terms of how they might engage in agreement processes to maximise women’s participation and influence. In many social contexts, a key challenge will be navigating the territory of cultural norms and gender equality, particularly in cultures where women’s influence in the public sphere is not strong. The authors argue that without consideration of a gender perspective, including gender’s intersection with other factors such as class, race, poverty level, ethnic group and age, mining agreements will not be inclusive, may exacerbate gender inequalities, and fail to contribute to long-term sustainable development.

J. C. Keenan, D. L. Kemp & R. B. Ramsay. 2016. Company–community agreements, gender and development.
Journal of Business Ethics, 135(4), 607-615.


CSR: its economic impact and link to the “bullwhip effect”
This paper examines the economic impact of implementing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the supply chain operations of multinational corporations (MNC). Because they have global supply chains in emerging markets, MNCs face certain operational challenges. For example, unethical operations often result in a huge loss to MNCs in the long run, even though their initial cost seems to be low.

In this paper, Asgary & Li extend the Bullwhip Effect theory in supply chain management to the ethical operations context, and define and evaluate a special Bullwhip Effect due to Unethical Operations (BEUO). Using economic data from various sources including Ford, Toyota, and GM in the auto industry, the authors first estimate the indices of BEUO for the three companies and demonstrate the economic necessity for MNCs to incorporate CSR with supply chain operations.

They then propose a coherent approach, blending what they term the bottom-up and proactive methods, to achieve such an outcome. The bottom-up approach requires MNCs to switch their focus on stakeholders, shifting from shareholders to consumers and workers, and on decision levels from public relationships to supply chain operations. The proactive approach recommends initializing specific CSR operations to mitigate the negative impact of BEUO. Both theoretical analysis and case studies are conducted to evaluate the developed propositions that MNCs adopting the proposed CSR operations will in the long run achieve better economic performance. Recommended actions for implementation, based on best practices, are also presented.

Nader Asgary & Gang Li. 2016. Corporate social responsibility: its economic impact and link to the bullwhip effect. 
Journal Of Business Ethics, 135(4), 665-681.


Theory about ecological sustainability and strategic management 
This article builds theory at the intersection of ecological sustainability and strategic management literature—specifically, in relation to the dynamic capabilities literature. By combining industrial organisation economics–based, resource-based, and dynamic capability–based views, it is possible to develop a better understanding of the strategies that businesses may follow, depending on their managers’ assumptions about ecological sustainability.

To develop innovative strategies for ecological sustainability, the dynamic capabilities framework needs to be extended. In particular, the sensing–seizing–maintaining competitiveness framework should operate not only within the boundaries of a business ecosystem but in relation to global biophysical ecosystems; in addition, two more dynamic capabilities should be added, namely, remapping and reaping.

This framework can explicate core managerial beliefs about ecological sustainability. Finally, this approach offers opportunities for managers and academics to identify, categorise, and exploit business strategies for ecological sustainability.

Read this Open Access article in full for free: Helen Borland, Véronique Ambrosini, Adam Lindgreen & Joëlle Vanhamme. 2016. Building Theory at the Intersection of Ecological Sustainability and Strategic Management. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 135(2), 293–307.