The intention is to provide a forum for the publication of scientific articles in the field of business ethics. It is the first journal of business ethics on the African continent. The aim of the journal is to contribute to the expansion and establishment of business ethics as academic field in Africa.


The Globethics library contains articles of the African Journal of Business Ethics (AJoBE) as of vol. 1(2005) to current.

Recent Submissions

  • Being ‘human’ under regimes of Human Resource Management: Using black theology to illuminate humanisation and dehumanisation in the workplace

    Megoran, Nick (African Sun Media, 2022-04-20)
    Critical studies have rightly faulted mainstream HRM for its failure to account for the meaning of being human under regimes of HRM. This article advances the field in this regard by drawing on African and broader black theological reflection on the meaning of being human, and by using visual research methods to interrogate the extent to which workplaces respect human dignity. Fifty-five (55) visual timeline interviews were conducted in a range of workplaces in the north-east of England. Data showed that allowing autonomy and freedom, mediating audit regimes, contractual affirmation, and creating communities of care were the key factors whose presence created humanising workplaces and whose absence signalled dehumanising ones. This research allows a richer understanding of structures and processes that produce either humanising or dehumanising workplaces.
  • Racial capitalism, ruling elite business entanglement and the impasse of black economic empowerment policy in South Africa

    Habiyaremye, Alexis (African Sun Media, 2022-04-20)
    The high rate of inequality in South Africa is rooted in colonial dispossession and racial exploitation, and still runs primarily along the racial divide. Policy initiatives taken to redress past economic injustices through the black economic empowerment (BEE) have failed to bring economic transformation. Using the twin lenses of epistemic violence and racial capitalism, this study analyses how entangled interests aimed to co-opt the ruling party elite by the apartheid-era business elite led to the BEE impasse. The pervasiveness of cultural alienation in BEE failure suggests that a shift to restorative justice is necessary to break from the impasse.
  • Occupational health and safety in small businesses: The rationale behind compliance

    Esterhuyzen, Elriza (African Sun Media, 2022-04-20)
    Occupational health and safety (OHS), as a fundamental human right, forms the basis of the obligation of employers to employees, requiring employers to do what is right. Responsible management practices encompass cognisance of sustainability, responsibility as well as legal, financial and moral aspects related to OHS compliance. As point of departure, an overview of core OHS criteria for small businesses is provided, with reference to awareness of these criteria in the G20 countries.  This article utilises quantitative and qualitative data analysis to examine the reasons why small business owners/managers comply with occupational health and safety directives, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act) and the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) in South Africa, determine if such reasons for compliance culminate in actual compliance, and determine the perceived effect of direct and indirect costs of OHS incidents. A total of 350 small business owners/managers took part in this study. The findings indicate that whilst small business owners/managers realise the rationale behind OHS compliance in terms of moral, legal and financial components, moral aspects related to OHS compliance are deemed most important. Small business owners/managers thus seem to realise the importance of OHS compliance. However, when it comes to adhering to their responsibility in terms of general safety regulations of the OHS Act and registration with the Compensation Fund as specified in the COIDA (as examples of actual compliance), small business owners/managers’ compliance does not reflect such realisation. A model to enhance OHS standards in small businesses, encompassing legal, moral and financial rationales, is proposed.
  • Towards an understanding of corporate (dis)engagement with social justice advocacy

    Jones, Louise; Smit, Arnold (African Sun Media, 2022-04-20)
    If it can be argued that companies should engage with social justice advocacy, what factors might deter them from doing so?  This question is pursued in a qualitative research study with participants from corporate and social justice organisations.  Six inhibiting factors are identified: a lack of understanding of social justice concepts; fear of reputational risk; short-term profit orientation; a compliance mindset; disconnectedness from operating environment; and recognition that business purpose will determine its societal engagement. This research extends the theoretical and practice boundaries of corporate social responsibility, while also advocating for an intensified engagement of management education with social justice in practice.
  • Perspectives on business ethics in South African small and medium enterprises

    van Wyk, Ireze; Venter , Peet (African Sun Media, 2022-04-20)
    SMEs are the driving force of economies. However, they face challenges that affect their long-term survival, such as developing ethical business environments. Business ethicsrelated research is underdeveloped in SMEs, thus limiting our understanding of business ethics in SMEs. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate how business ethics is conceptualised in SMEs, using the Delphi Technique.  In SMEs, business ethics is viewed as doing the right thing, having integrity, being transparent, trustworthy, and behaving responsibly towards internal and external parties. The contribution of this article is that business ethics is perceived as upholding quality, being transparent and trustworthy.
  • Integrity and vulnerability as building blocks of perceived moral character and leader profile attractiveness

    Prinsloo, Jantes; De Klerk, Jeremias Jesaja (African Sun Media, 2020-12-19)
    Integrity is often regarded as cardinal to moral character and thus a desirable leadership attribute. However, integrity that is not moderated through an adjunctive virtue such as vulnerability can produce leaders who are self-righteous. Through a vignette experiment, the contribution of integrity and vulnerability towards the perception of moral character and the attractiveness of a leader’s behavioural profile was assessed. Results confirm that integrity contributes even more strongly to both perceived moral character and attractiveness of a leader’s behavioural profile when combined with vulnerability. The findings provide new insights into integrity and vulnerability as adjunctive virtues and building blocks of perceived moral character and ethical leadership attractiveness.
  • Understanding of and attitudes to academic ethics among first†year university students

    Thomas, AdeÌ€le; Van Zyl, AndreÌ (African Sun Media, 2014-07-17)
    This study aimed to explore the understanding of and attitudes towards academic ethics of first†year students at a South African University using a paper†based survey that yielded 3611 respondents. A degree of confusion and ambivalence regarding academic ethical issues exists. The relative wealth of respondents also appears to influence the understanding of and attitudes to academic ethics. Millennial students have a tendency to disregard ownership of knowledge. There is a need for instruction in academic ethics to instil an awareness of integrity in academic pursuit, coupled with an understanding of the world views of millennials. 
  • An adapted measure of ethical climate in organisations – a South African study

    Grobler, Anton (African Sun Media, 2017-05-10)
    A study was conducted to analyse the ethical climate typology of the Ethical Climate Questionnaire empirically, in order to develop a unique South African typology. This typology was tested for the equivalence of the construct between the private and public sector. A three ethical climate type solution was found (in contrast with the initial nine, and later five type typology). The results suggest that the construct is equivalent for both the private and public sectors. The findings could be used as a foundation for future studies, as well as for ethical climate measurement within the South African context.
  • “The great unspoken shame of UK Higher Education†: addressing inequalities of attainment

    Ross, Fiona Mary; Tatam, John Christian; Hughes, Annie Livingston; Beacock, Owen Paul; McDuff, Nona (African Sun Media, 2018-06-26)
    UK universities are achieving some success in attracting increasingly diverse undergraduate cohorts, although distributed unevenly across different types of institutions. It is therefore a concern that once at universities, overall students from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds perform less well in their final degree classifications, even when entry qualifications, subject of study and student characteristics are taken into account. This paper firstly, reviews the research on what is understood about the BME attainment gap, described by an independent university governor as “the great unspoken shame of higher education†and secondly tells the story of institutional change initiated by Kingston University, which is a large, “modern†and widening participation institution in South West London. The multifaceted change involved: defining the problem; establishing an institutional key performance indicator; engaging the university leadership and academy; using a value added metric; and measuring attainment outcomes over a three year period. Results show significant improvement in attainment and qualitative evidence of improved staff awareness. The paper discusses the ethical challenges of complex and institutional change for example, the importance of committed leadership, the value of data as a vehicle for initiating engagement when staff are reluctant to discuss race, equality and social justice, the implications for moving away from a student deficit to an institutional deficit model through developing inclusive cultures and an inclusive curriculum. Finally the paper concludes with describing Kingston University’s role in influencing change across the sector. The approach to changing inequalities in student attainment will be rolled out to six other institutions, supported by a large award from the funding council.
  • Overcoming constraints imposed by fiduciary duties in terms of justice as a “Leadership Challenge that Matters†.

    Eccles, Neil Stuart (African Sun Media, 2018-11-16)
    This paper focuses on the issue of justice as a challenge facing business and society. I advance a simple deductive argument based on two premises. The first emerges out of theories of justice and holds that fairness, as a foundational basis for justice, demands impartiality or the avoidance of bias. The second emerges out of fiduciary law and holds that the duty of loyalty owed by managers to serve the interests of investors is fundamentally partial or biased. The conclusion is the troubling fact that the fiduciary duty of loyalty owed by managers to serve the interests of investors appears to be incompatible with the demands of justice. Having presented this, I describe the impartiality tools of Rawls’ veil of ignorance and Adam Smith’s impartial spectator and discuss how these might be applied in this context. I speculate that while Smith’s impartial spectator is absolutely incommensurable with managers’ fiduciary duty of loyalty, Rawls’ veil of ignorance might be used to imagine a synthesis between this duty of loyalty and the impartiality demands of justice – in theory at least. And finally, as a parting shot, I wonder whether the real “Leadership Challenge that Matters†isn’t the gap between theory and reality.
  • “First, do no harm†? An overview and ethical evaluation of South Africa’s climate change mitigation commitments in light of the Paris Agreement

    Steenkamp, Lee-Anne; Naude, Piet (African Sun Media, 2018-11-16)
    South Africa ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016 and thereby committed to reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) concentration levels as part of its self-determined goals in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). This articleviewed the targets in the NDC through an ethical lens. It was demonstrated that the commitment below the ‘business-asusual’ (BAU) level allowed for large increases in South Africa’s emissions without explaining how these were consistent with a specific understanding of what equity required. Also, the NDCtargets were found to be highly insufficient. Consequently, South Africa’s climate change mitigation commitments were deemed inconsistent with the ethical ‘no-harm’ principle.
  • Contribution of integrity and vulnerability to perceived moral character and a leader’s behavioural profile attractiveness

    Prinsloo, Jantes; De Klerk, Jeremias Jesaja (African Sun Media, 2020-12-19)
    Integrity is often regarded as cardinal to moral character and thus a desirable leadership attribute. However, integrity that is not moderated through an adjunctive virtue such as vulnerability can produce leaders who are self-righteous. Through a vignette experiment, the contribution of integrity and vulnerability towards the perception of moral character and the attractiveness of a leader’s behavioural profile was assessed. Results confirm that integrity contributes even more strongly to both perceived moral character and attractiveness of a leader’s behavioural profile when combined with vulnerability. The findings provide new insights into integrity and vulnerability as adjunctive virtues and building blocks of perceived moral character and ethical leadership attractiveness.
  • “Un†trepreneurship : Undoing the Myth of Entrepreneurship as a Development Apparatus

    Smit, Maria; Pretorius, Marius (African Sun Media, 2020-12-19)
    The current theoretical framing of entrepreneurship includes a number of diverse phenomena under the same conceptual umbrella, yet the terms are often conflated and used interchangeably. Based on the assumption that anything included under this conceptual umbrella contributes to economic development and job creation, entrepreneurship has become appropriated as a development tool in the Global South where poverty and unemployment are rife. This study introduces the term entrepreneurship as a development apparatus (EDA) and defines it as the implementation of entrepreneurship support interventions (such as training, incubation and funding) in economically marginalised communities, based on the assumption that these interventions lead to economic development and job creation. EDA is then taken out from under the conceptual entrepreneurship umbrella, and placed in a post-development theory context, showing that insight can be gained when the critical debate on entrepreneurship is moved beyond the constraints of the mainstream entrepreneurship paradigm. Drawing from the development debate, this paper argues that the current theoretical entrepreneurship paradigm has proven unable to provide answers to the failure of EDA, and thus calls for the rejection of the entire notion of EDA as a form of entrepreneurship.
  • Reviewing State-Owned Entities’ Governance Landscape in South Africa

    Kanyane, Modimowabarwa Hendrick; Sausi, Kombi (African Sun Media, 2015-12-21)
    The current state-owned entities’ governance landscape ranges from fragmented accountability frameworks to convoluted array of parent entities, subsidiaries and sub-subsidiaries. The article reviews the state-owned entities’ governance landscape to unravel underlying inconsistencies and contradictions and thereby provides a compelling argument for opting to create an overarching state-owned entities’ governance and seamless legislative framework. As the proposed overarching option is not an absolute resolve, the study tests whether the option could assist in arriving at a liberating praxis that would straddle though fulfilling corporate and developmental aspirations of the state. The study perused research reports and literature review applying qualitative methods.
  • Accountability challenges in public–private partnerships from a South African perspective

    Fombad, Madeleine C. (African Sun Media, 2014-07-17)
    One of the potential benefits of public–private partnerships (PPPs) is its capacity to enhance account- ability. Although the South African government has made several efforts to address the need for fairness in service delivery and improve accountability in procurement, accountability remains a challenge in PPPs in South Africa and most other countries. If PPPs are to play their role in infrastructure development and service delivery, and thus serve public interests, the problem of accountability must be addressed. This paper attempts to identify some of the accountability challenges in PPPs, together with a literature review, to provide some future perspectives on PPPs in South Africa. 
  • Communicating Progress on Meeting the United Nations Global Compact Goals – an analysis of the South African experience

    Malan, Daniel; Ungerer, Marius (African Sun Media, 2018-02-14)
    The purpose of business has been a consistent focus area in the field of corporate responsibility (CR). This article examines public disclosures on CR made by South African signatories to the United Nations Global Compact, with reference to recent contributions on the purpose of business.Over time, the focus of CR has shifted from an internal corporate to a broader systemic perspective, reflecting the view that the responsibility of corporations cannot be addressed in isolation. In terms of purpose, Porter and Kramer present Creating Shared Value (CSV) as a way to reinvent capitalism. Donaldson and Walsh argue that what counts as value for a single firm is not the same as value for business in general, and propose a world where collective value is optimized.Corporations have to confront global challenges with commitment and innovation. If they can do so successfully it will be in their own interest and also in the interest of the planet. It is frequently argued that – in addition – it will be the right thing to do from a moral perspective. The use of “in addition†is significant: it illustrates one of the key conceptual challenges to understanding the (perceived) tension between the business case and the moral case for corporate responsibility. “In addition†implies that the business case and the moral case are separate, but that, if they are aligned, there would be no tension. It is argued that the traditional resolution of this tension – enlightened self-interest –is both superficial and flawed.It is proposed that more corporate support for CR based on a normative foundation should be encouraged, and that the concept of Optimized Collective Value is an appropriate way to achieve this.
  • Bank customers’ preferences and responses to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in Ghana

    Hinson, Ebo; Renner, Anne; van Zyl, Helena (African Sun Media, 2016-10-11)
     The study seeks to investigate Ghanaian bank customers’ ranked preference for corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and determine which initiative has the greatest effect on attitude and behaviour toward banks. A sample of 384 retail bank customers is employed in the study. Applying a one-way MANOVA and two uni-variate ANOVAs, the study finds that customers have the highest preference for corporate philanthropy initiatives, followed by customer-centric and community volunteering initiatives. Additionally, the overall effects of CSR initiatives on customers’ attitude and behavioural intentions toward bank brands are found to be significant. More specifically, the study finds, using a Scheffé post-hoc test, that corporate philanthropy initiative have the greatest effect on both attitude and behavioural intentions towards bank brands. Based on the findings, the study recommends that the best type of CSR initiative that retail banks should apply to stimulate customers’ attitude and behaviour towards their brands in Ghana is corporate philanthropy initiatives.
  • Consider the following scenario: “A politically connected White Western European businessman offers to smooth the way for your company to sell in his country … for a fee.â€

    Eccles, Neil Stuart; Magagula, Busisiwe (African Sun Media, 2019-07-22)
    In 2014, Birtch et al published a paper that contained unnecessary negative cultural/racial stereotyping in a vignette presented in the paper’s introduction. Given the potentially harmful consequences of negative stereotyping, and the relatively frequent use of vignettes in the business ethics literature, this prompted us to wonder whether this was an isolated instance or a more widespread occurrence. To investigate this question we conducted a search of the scholarly literature for papers containing the string ‘vignette’ or ‘scenario’, and ‘business ethics’ using the EBSCOhost databases to which our institution subscribes. This search yielded a collection of 154 papers where vignettes were actually presented. Of these, approximately 18% contained negative cultural or racial stereotyping while 38% contained some form of negative gender stereotyping. In our view, these are uncomfortably high frequencies, so uncomfortably high in fact that they prompt us to conclude with a plea to authors, editors and reviewers within the business ethics academic literature to be on guard against this practice.

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