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Ethics and value creation in business research: comparing two approaches

Lise‐Lotte Lindfelt (Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland)
Jan‐Åke Törnroos (Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 1 March 2006



Purpose – The purpose of this article is to develop a conceptual framework for studying value creation derived from an ethical perspective, in a business marketing context. Design/methodology/approach – First, a conceptual and comparative analysis is made of the ethics and value concepts in two research traditions: the stakeholder approach and the business network approach. Second, a conceptual framework is developed that contains tools for conducting research on value co‐creation in business networks from an ethical perspective. An exemplifying case study from the paper industry is included. Findings – Four key concepts are proposed for further research into ethics and value creation in business networks that enable the study of ethical embeddedness: ethical network identity, ethical role, ethical position, and ethical atmosphere. The analysis also presents fundamental differences between the stakeholder and the business network approaches when dealing with ethics and value. Research limitations/implications – The developed conceptual framework should be applied in more extended empirical settings to evaluate its usefulness. Practical implications – The paper provides an ethical perspective for understanding value in industrial markets using a network approach. Originality/value – The study presents a novel approach to incorporating ethics and value creation to an industrial marketing context. Ethical issues are traditionally studied using stakeholder, agency or institutional perspectives and such research in business‐to‐business contexts is almost non‐existent. The business network approach contains very few studies from an ethical point of view. The paper covers this gap and offers a starting‐point for further inquiry into this field.



Lindfelt, L. and Törnroos, J. (2006), "Ethics and value creation in business research: comparing two approaches", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 40 No. 3/4, pp. 328-351.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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