Call for Papers Special Issue: Business Ethics in the Virtual Work Environment: Challenges to Educators and Practitioners

Need of study

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has forced business organizations to operate more fully in the virtual world. This necessitates, amongst other things, a thorough re-look into business ethics and in particular business ethics education. With the majority of the workforce (in some cases all) operating virtually now and possibly continually into the future, a paradigm shift seems imminent as far as business ethics and values in practice are concerned. A virtual work environment calls for practices heavily embedded in the values of empathy, equity, empowerment and enablement by leaders. This helps stimulate a spirit of business innovation, knowledge creation, proactive, risk taking behavior and trust among employees in such environments. McGregor’s (1960) theory Y enumerates participative leadership in which employees are entrusted with the responsibility of setting up organizational goals and delegated with decision making. Acceptance of decisions are enhanced manifold when employees are taken onboard as partners in the process (Deutsch, 1975). Virtual work environments also call for ethics of care as another important leadership quality. Care, not only for the team members but also being sensitive to their family who may stand to get affected in ‘work from home’ environment (Velasquez, 2006). Rossouw (2002) argues that business ethics education should encapsulate moral awareness, moral understanding, moral reasoning, moral decision making, and moral tolerance. Lau (2010) emphasized that ethical reasoning and awareness can be increased through business ethics education which can be further augmented if learners are ready to learn. Floyd et al. (2013) recommended that business schools should identify key stakeholders and revise curricula as well as teaching and learning process based on stakeholder feedback. The new realm of pandemic affected business and the learning environment calls for discussions on curriculum decisions and pedagogical approaches towards business ethics education.

In this Special Issue “Business Ethics in the Virtual Work Environment: Challenges to Educators and Practitioners,” we are concerned with the ethical issues that may arise in a virtual work environment including unethical use of sensitive material (Ariss, Nykodym and Cole-Laramore, 2002), tendency towards unethical and disrespectful communication due to the social distancing (Cranford, 1996) and dealing with the impact of social isolation and lack of interaction between team members (Kim, Emmett and Sikula, 2001). Tolerance, respect and civil behaviour is the essence of interaction in an online learning environment (Toprak, Ozkanal, Aydin and Kaya, 2010). Some of the common unethical behaviours observed in online learning environments are inappropriate assistance during examinations, misuse of sources on papers and projects, writing assistance, misrepresentation in the collection and reporting of data, improper use of academic resources, disrespecting the work of others specially during peer review, breaches of computer ethics, copy-right violation, providing inappropriate assistance to others and lack of adherence to academic regulation (Fass, 1990). Natale and Libertella (2015) opined that online education lacks ethical and moral engagement and emphatic interaction as compared to face-to-face learning interaction. With a focus on deliverables, accountability and assessment, the humane factor is found missing. Swanson (2005) has suggested initiatives such as hosting guest speakers, endowed chairs on ethics and service learning for betterment of business ethics learning. Hence some brainstorming is required among practitioners and academics on pedagogical approaches to business ethics in the new normal , as hybrid mode of learning is likely to become the norm.

Relevance to Asian Journal of Business Ethics

Lau (2010) found that ethical awareness and moral reasoning can be bestowed in business school students through business ethics education. Royee, Ahmadi and Jari (2013) have found that both faculty and students realize the importance of ethics education in business schools. Utility value of the courses on ethics, convert into exchange value later which result in positive work behavior (Varma, 2019). However, Zhou, Ou and Enderle (2009) found in the context of China that Business Ethics education has not been given its due importance in most business schools’ curricula. Collins, Weber and Zambrano (2013) summarized best practices of teaching and learning processes for business ethics education courses in an asynchronous mode based on experiences of business ethics educators. Importance of business ethics education in MBA curriculum has been realized in recent years. Covid-19 has thrown new challenges for imparting knowledge of business ethics to students and employees of business organizations. More researches are required on the topic in the new business environment. For example: Manuel and Herron (2020) found that several philanthropic CSR activities were undertaken by business organizations during pandemic for stakeholder benefits, both from utilitarian and deontological perspectives, but its long term impact on businesses and society need to be explored further. While medical technologists were engaged in digital contact tracing and mitigation of pandemics it raised several questions on privacy concerns and assurance of equitable distribution of benefits (Lo and Sim, 2020). Several bio-ethical and public health issues came into highlight on treatments of patients and on preventing the spread of the disease (Widjaja and Sijabat , 2021) Cases and empirical researches on these new issues of ethical concerns need to be probed further.

Call for Papers

In light of this, we invite articles that discuss and study business ethics (education issues and others) in the new digital age and under post Covid-19 norms and also cases (with teaching notes) which are can drive business ethics values on practitioners and learners of businesses.

Some of the questions whose answers we are looking forward to are:

1. What kind of ethical values should be bestowed to online learners and what should be the pedagogy?

2. Should ethics in virtual work environment be a standalone course or should be part of Business Ethics course in the Business School curriculum?

3. What are best practices for aligning employees towards appropriate behaviour in virtual work environment and how best to assess them?

4. What are ethical dilemmas plaguing all the stakeholders in businesses in current times?

5. What should be the pedagogical approaches to business ethics education in the new normal. Will multi-media cases, video cases be more appropriate in business ethics education in a digitalized world , especially in the post covid situation?

We invite scholars, practitioners and policy makers from various disciplines to submit their conceptual and empirical papers on various issues pertaining to business ethics in virtual work environment, from the perspectives of educators, practitioners and policy makers. Submission deadline for manuscripts is January 31, 2022. All manuscripts will go through regular double-blind review process as stipulated by AJBE. Accepted papers are expected to be published both online and as a Special Issue in December 2022.

Co-Guest Editors for the Special Issue:

Dr Sonali Bhattacharya (Lead Co-Guest Editor)

Professor, Symbiosis Centre for Management Human Resource Development, Symbiosis International University, India


Dr Donelson R. Forsyth

Professor, The Leo K. and Gaylee Thorsness Chair in Ethical Leadership, The University of Richmond, USA


Dr Wim Vandekerckhove

Professor of Business Ethics and co-Director of the Centre for Research in Employment and Work (CREW), University of Greenwich, UK


Dr Samir Chatterjee

Professor Emeritus, Curtin University, Perth, Australia


Dr Georges Enderle

John T. Ryan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of International Business Ethics, Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, USA


Dr Ananda Das Gupta

Professor & Member, Expert Team, Sustainable Advancements India and Editorial Board Member, Philosophy Of Management, Springer


Dr Venkatesha Murthy

Assistant Professor, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, IIT Jodhpur, India



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