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“Procedure versus practice”: navigating ethical tensions in social entrepreneurship research involving vulnerable people in the developing world

Diana Lorenzo-Afable (Management, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
Smita Singh (International Business, Strategy and Entrepreneurship, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
Marjolein Lips-Wiersma (Management, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 3 August 2021

Issue publication date: 3 November 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper examines the ethical tensions in social entrepreneurship (SE) research by focusing on the ethical consequences of obtaining ethics approval in a university in the developed world while executing fieldwork for data collection in a developing country. It aims to offer insight into ethical research practice to protect vulnerable research participants from being further silenced and marginalised by the dominant social order that developed world universities embody.

Design/methodology/approach

The ethical tensions are described through narratives drawn from a Filipino Ph.D. candidate's experience. The candidate obtained ethics approval from the university in New Zealand and collected interview data from social enterprise beneficiaries in the Philippines. A critical reflexive lens carves a space for a deepened understanding of these ethical tensions.

Findings

This paper offers critical insights into ethical SE research involving participants from vulnerable communities. These insights suggest that closer consideration needs to be given to contextual sensitivity, particularly on the part of researchers and research ethics committees, in crafting ethical data collection protocols. Findings also show how it is important for the indigenous researcher to filter ethical protocols through their local knowledge.

Originality/value

The paper uses critical reflexivity to examine ethical tensions in SE research involving vulnerable beneficiaries. It offers insights into ethical research procedures and practices that engender mindfulness of the contextual and relational aspects of doing SE research in the developing world.

Keywords

Citation

Lorenzo-Afable, D., Singh, S. and Lips-Wiersma, M. (2021), "“Procedure versus practice”: navigating ethical tensions in social entrepreneurship research involving vulnerable people in the developing world", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 16 No. 3/4, pp. 674-690. https://doi.org/10.1108/QROM-12-2019-1868

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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