Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 115, Issue 3, pp 555–574 | Cite as

Morally Contentious Technology-Field Intersections: The Case of Biotechnology in the United States



Technologies can be not only contentious—overthrowing existing ways of doing things—but also morally contentious—forcing deep reflection on personal values and societal norms. This article investigates that what may impede the acceptance of a technology and/or the development of the field that supports or exploits it, the lines between which often become blurred in the face of morally contentious content. Using a unique dataset with historically important timing—the United States Biotechnology Study fielded just 9 months after the public announcement of the successful cloning of the first mammal (i.e., Dolly the sheep)—we find that microlevel factors (i.e., conservative Christianity) predict unfavorable judgments of the technology-field intersection while macrolevel representations [i.e., exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics disciplines and media coverage] predict more favorable judgments.


Biotechnology Individual level of analysis Morally contentious fields STEM disciplines Survey methodology Technology-field intersections 



Funding for this research was provided by Fordham University and Brandeis University. This manuscript has benefited from the feedback and support of Brendan Whyte, Danielle Dunne, and Jennifer Miller. All errors and omissions are the responsibility of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Management Systems Department, Schools of Business AdministrationFordham UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.International Business SchoolBrandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

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