Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 21-32

First online:

Varieties of Moral Issue and Dilemma: A Framework for the Analysis of Case Material in Business Ethics Education

  • Patrick MaclaganAffiliated withCentre for Management and Organisational Learning, The Business School, The University of Hull

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This paper builds on a number of ideas concerning the nature, management and representation in case studies, of moral issues and dilemmas as experienced by people in organisations. Drawing on some cases used in teaching business ethics, and utilising a checklist of questions derived from the more general theoretical analysis, suggestions are offered regarding the contributions which such cases can make in developing students' understanding and potential for performative competence in real life situations. The distinction between issues and dilemmas is emphasised, and different types of issue are identified. The status of self-interest as an issue, and as contributory to personal dilemmas, is given particular attention. The paper also addresses the distinction between cognitive and non-cognitive attributes required by individuals if they are to deal with such situations. Within the cognitive category attention is paid to the contribution of ethical and other theory, and to the need for moral imagination and judgement.

case studies moral dilemmas moral imagination normative ethics personal attributes self-interest