DOI: 10.1177/09716858231223680 ISSN: 0971-6858

Reimagining Business Ethics as Ethos-Driven Practice: A Deweyan Perspective

Christopher Gohl
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Cultural Studies
  • Social Psychology

As business ethics is grappling with criticisms of its relevance for ethical practice, it may find perspective and direction in various conceptions of ethos. While ‘ethics’ is rooted in ‘ethos’, a term with a long and rich history of interdisciplinary research, conceptions of ethos are so far scarcely discussed in business ethics. The purpose of this conceptual article is to explore the potential of a pivot towards business ethics as an ethos-driven practice, drawing on John Dewey’s work. First, it introduces four conceptions of ethos from interdisciplinary research and explores their varied resonance in business ethics. Second, it offers a unified conception of ethos that builds on John Dewey’s approach to economics, moral life and ethics, particularly on his understanding of habits and forms of valuation. It is then argued that understanding ethos in terms of ‘valued modes of embedded, embodied and associational conduct’ encourages business ethics to engage in the intelligent, practical and meaningful reconstruction of evolving business practices. The article concludes that an ‘ ethotical turn’ for business ethics would not only invigorate practical, corporeal and environmental perspectives but also open the field to interdisciplinary insights and ideas.

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