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Corporations in the political arena: an ethical framework

Andrew Barron (Department of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, TBS Business School, Toulouse, France)
Stephen Stacey (SST Associates, Swindon, UK)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 24 January 2020

Issue publication date: 18 March 2021

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore how firms can configure their organisational architectures in ways that limit ethical transgressions of their corporate political activities (CPAs).

Design/methodology/approach

This conceptual work is informed by existing research into organisational architecture and ethical decision-making, combined with illustrative examples of firms’ political actions derived from secondary and primary data sources.

Findings

Findings suggest that the ways that firms assign decision-making authority and design performance management systems can, depending on their combined configuration, either help or hinder the promotion of ethical CPA practice.

Practical implications

The study provides practitioners with a useful tool for reflecting on the organisational levers they can pull to shield their firms from the financial and reputation damage associated with objectionable conduct in their political activities.

Originality/value

Whilst previous research studies emphasise the importance of statutory guidelines, self-regulation or corporate codes for promoting ethical CPA, this study argues that organisational design is an important yet overlooked antecedent of a firm’s ability to practice CPA ethically and responsibly.

Keywords

Citation

Barron, A. and Stacey, S. (2021), "Corporations in the political arena: an ethical framework", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 42 No. 2, pp. 116-125. https://doi.org/10.1108/JBS-06-2019-0119

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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