This paper aims to map the evolution of research in business ethics from 1991 to 2018. It aims to identify the major themes and how they have evolved. It also aims to identify gaps in the literature for recommending future research agenda.
This study uses co-word network analysis. Co-word network analysis is a bibliometric technique used to objectively identify research themes via article keywords. The study examines articles from 1991 to 2018, which is a span encompassing a greater number of articles than previous bibliometric studies in business ethics. This time span was split into four periods and major research themes were identified for each period to map the changes in research agendas in the business ethics discipline over time.
The findings point to increasing maturation of the discipline, a slight decline in ethical decision-making research, a rise in research at the intersection of leadership and ethics and exponential growth in studies on corporate social responsibility. Ethical issues in business-to-business contexts are understudied. Research in environmental disclosures and leadership is expected to grow in the future.
This is the first study in business ethics to use keywords for analyzing the evolution of a discipline. This study encompasses more articles than any other study in business ethics. Finally, this is the only study to use co-word network analysis to study business ethics literature.
Kumar, V. and Srivastava, A. (2021), "Mapping the evolution of research themes in business ethics: a co-word network analysis", VINE Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/VJIKMS-10-2020-0199
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