This week we highlight some research looking at behaving with virtue in different settings, such as ecommerce, gaming and biometrics.

Virtue in the video game business
This article analyses the business ethics of digital games, using Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.

It identifies different types of monetisation options as virtuous or nonvirtuous, based on Rand’s views on rational self-interest. It divides the options into ethical Mover and unethical Looter designs, presents those logics in relation to an illustrative case example, Zynga, and then discusses a view on the role of players in relation to game monetisation designs.

Through this analysis of monetisation options in the context of Objectivist ethics, the article contributes to discussions on game revenue ethics. It also expands the still understudied area of applying Rand’s ethics to business, in the context of a new sector, game development, and business.

This research enables ethicists to apply a wider-than-before perspective on virtue ethics to online business, and helps game developers act in a virtuous manner, which provides them with a long-term business advantage.

Read this Open Access article online for free

J. Tuomas Harviainen, Janne Paavilainen & Elina Koskinen. 2020. Ayn Rand’s Objectivist Ethics Applied to Video Game Business.

Journal of Business Ethics, 167(4), 761–774.

Trust affects stock price in China
This paper investigates how social trust affects stock price synchronicity using a large sample of listed firms in China. The authors propose and provide evidence that social trust has a significantly positive impact on the amount of firm-specific information capitalised into stock prices.

Further analyses indicate that firms located in regions of high social trust tend to have a smaller stock price crash risk and are less likely to engage in opportunistic behaviours than those in low-trust regions. Moreover, the positive role of trust in increasing firm-specific return variations and discouraging corporate misbehaviours is more pronounced for SOEs than Non-SOEs. Evidence from 2SLS regressions supports a causal impact of social trust on stock price synchronicity.

Baoyin Qiu, Junli Yu & Kuo Zhang. 2020. Trust and Stock Price Synchronicity: Evidence from China.

Journal of Business Ethics, 167(1), 97–109.

Biometric technology and ethics: Beyond security applications
Biometric technology was once the purview of security, with face recognition and fingerprint scans used for identification and law enforcement. This is no longer the case; biometrics is increasingly used for commercial and civil applications.

Due to the widespread diffusion of biometrics, it is important to address the ethical issues inherent to the development and deployment of the technology. This article explores the burgeoning research on biometrics for non-security purposes and the ethical implications for organisations.
This will be achieved by reviewing the literature on biometrics and business ethics and drawing from disciplines such as computer ethics to inform a more robust discussion of key themes.

Although there are many ethical concerns, privacy is the key issue, with associated themes. These include definitions of privacy, the privacy paradox, informed consent, regulatory frameworks and guidelines, and discrimination. Despite the proliferation of biometric technology, there is little empirical research on applied biometrics and business ethics. As such, there are several avenues for research to improve understanding of the ethical implications of using this technology.

Andrea North-Samardzic. 2020. Biometric Technology and Ethics: Beyond Security Applications.

Journal of Business Ethics, 167(3), 433–450.

Trust in “facts”: Statistics and probability are value-laden
Quantitative researchers often discuss research ethics as if specific ethical problems can be reduced to abstract normative logics (e.g., virtue ethics, utilitarianism, deontology). Such approaches overlook how values are embedded in every aspect of quantitative methods, including ‘observations,’ ‘facts,’ and notions of ‘objectivity.’

The authors describe how quantitative research practices, concepts, discourses, and their objects/subjects of study have always been value-laden, from the invention of statistics and probability in the 1600s to their subsequent adoption as a logic made to appear as if it exists prior to, and separate from, ethics and values. This logic, which was embraced in the Academy of Management from the 1960s, casts management researchers as ethical agents who ought to know about a reality conceptualised as naturally existing in the image of statistics and probability (replete with ‘constructs’), while overlooking that S&P logic and practices, which researchers made for themselves, have an appreciable role in making the world appear this way.

The authors introduce a different way to conceptualise reality and ethics, wherein the process of scientific inquiry itself requires an examination of its own practices and commitments. Instead of resorting to decontextualised notions of ‘rigor’ and its ‘best practices,’ quantitative researchers can adopt more purposeful ways to reason about the ethics and relevance of their methods and their science. The authors end by considering implications for addressing ‘post truth’ and ‘alternative facts’ problems as collective concerns, wherein it is actually the pluralistic nature of description that makes defending a collectively valuable version of reality so important and urgent.

Michael J. Zyphur & Dean C. Pierides. 2020. Statistics and Probability Have Always Been Value-Laden: An Historical Ontology of Quantitative Research Methods.

Journal of Business Ethics, 167(1), 1–18.

Creating trustworthy brand value
Firms have been increasingly using social commerce platforms to engage with customers and support their brand value co-creation. While social commerce is now bringing a variety of benefits to business, it has also challenged marketing ethics surrounding online consumer privacy.

Drawing on the trust-commitment theory, the authors develop a model that aims to create an ethical and trustworthy social commerce community for brand value co-creation by examining the impacts of online consumer privacy concerns (namely privacy risk and privacy control) and social interaction constructs (namely consumer-peer interaction and collaborative norms) on consumers’ psychological reactions.

Using an empirical study, the authors find that: (1) privacy risk, privacy control, and collaborative norms significantly influence consumers’ trust; (2) consumer-peer interaction and collaborative norms are positively related to relationship commitment; and (3) relationship commitment and trust positively affect consumers’ brand value co-creation in the context of social commerce. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Xuequn Wang, Mina Tajvidi, Xiaolin Lin & Nick Hajli. 2020. Towards an Ethical and Trustworthy Social Commerce Community for Brand Value Co-creation: A trust-Commitment Perspective.

Journal of Business Ethics, 167(1), 137–152.