Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 103, Issue 2, pp 239–253

An Epistemic Analysis of (Un)Sustainable Business



Michel Foucault famously analysed orders of knowledge, ‘epistemes’, in past European ages. In this study, his analytical method is fruitfully applied to gaining a better understanding of business sustainability within and beyond the Modern episteme. After an introduction to the contextual background for the study, this article provides (i) a justification for the use of a Foucauldian epistemic analytical method, (ii) an outline of the method, (iii) an application of the method to identify four sets of questions (morality, specialisation, anthropologization and mathematicization) that are both direct derivatives of the Modern episteme and problematic for sustainable development, and finally (iv) an application of the method to consider evidence for the emergence of a new episteme. Conclusions are also provided.

Key words

anthropologization business complexity economism foucault episteme realism sustainability 



Sustainable development


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldU.K.
  2. 2.University of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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