Purpose – A set of principal parameters (i.e. time, context, gap, outcome, and consequence) influences the ethical performance evaluation (EPE) of business practices in the marketplace and society. The purpose of this paper is to describe a managerial framework of EPE based upon these parameters.
Design/methodology/approach – Case illustrations are used to underpin the introduced managerial framework of EPE.
Findings – The EPE of business practices is not only dependent upon the ethical values and principles of today, but those principles of tomorrow may be equally, or even more, crucial. The EPE of business practices is also dependent upon the surrounding context and its specific ethical values and principles. Furthermore, it is dependent upon the gap between different perceptions of ethical values and principles and if the outcome of the corporation's ethical values and principles are proactive or reactive in relation to the reigning ethical values and principles in the marketplace and society. Finally, it is also dependent upon the potential and eventual consequences of ethical values and principles.
Research limitations/implications – The only way that we can “objectively” evaluate past ethical values and principles is through the use of ethical values and principles at the time and in respect to the context at hand. Research tends to fail when considering the longitudinal and evolutionary dimensions in the exploration of ethical values and principles in business practices. There is too much focus upon on-the-spot-accounts in the past and in current research efforts. An important area for further research is how to deal with the durability and variability of ethical values and principles in business practices in the marketplace and society. The key may be a stronger emphasis on longitudinal research efforts that may explore them over time and as contexts evolve. Ethical values and principles are connected and re-connected over time and across contexts in one way or another. They have a past, a current status and a future.
Practical implications – The decision as to whether business practices are ethical or unethical is – relatively speaking – easy to determine from a narrow perspective, however, the decision whether business practices are ethical or unethical becomes complicated as the perspective is widened and deepened. An introduced managerial framework of EPE provides a generic foundation and structure to examine the acceptability versus unacceptability of business practices.
Originality/value – The paper introduces a managerial framework of EPE, followed by case illustrations. It addresses the impact of time on ethical values and principles in any context on the potential and eventual gaps, outcomes and consequences in business practices. The managerial framework of EPE may also be used in non-business areas whenever found applicable and convenient to use.
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