Enchantment in Business Ethics Research

Bell, Emma; Winchester, Nik and Wray-Bliss, Edward (2020). Enchantment in Business Ethics Research. Journal of Business Ethics (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-020-04592-4

Abstract

This article draws attention to the importance of enchantment in business ethics research. Starting from a Weberian understanding of disenchantment, as a force that arises through modernity and scientific rationality, we show how rationalist business ethics research has become disenchanted as a consequence of the normalisation of positivist, quantitative methods of inquiry. Such methods absent the relational and lively nature of business ethics research and detract from the ethical meaning that can be generated through research encounters. To address this issue, we draw on the work of political theorist and philosopher, Jane Bennett, using this to show how interpretive qualitative research creates possibilities for enchantment. We identify three opportunities for reenchanting business ethics research related to: (i) moments of novelty or disruption; (ii) deep, meaningful attachments to things studied; and (iii) possibilities for embodied, affective encounters. In conclusion, we suggest that business ethics research needs to recognise and reorient scholarship towards an appreciation of the ethical value of interpretive, qualitative research as a source of potential enchantment.

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