Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 120, Issue 2, pp 237–250 | Cite as

Ethical Perspectives in Work Disability Prevention and Return to Work: Toward a Common Vocabulary for Analyzing Stakeholders’ Actions and Interactions

  • Christian Ståhl
  • Ellen MacEachen
  • Katherine Lippel
Article

Abstract

Many studies have emphasized the importance of medical, insurance, and workplace systems treating individuals fairly in work disability prevention (WDP) and return-to-work (RTW). However, ethical theories and perspectives from these different systems are rarely discussed in relation to each other, even though in practice these systems constantly interact. This paper explores ethical theories and perspectives that may apply to the WDP–RTW field, and discusses these in relation to perspectives attributed to dominant stakeholders in this field, and to potential differences in different jurisdictional contexts. Literature was sought primarily in biomedical ethics, business ethics, and public administration ethics. In biomedical ethics, four ethical principles are dominant: autonomy, beneficence, nonmalevolence, and justice. Business ethics involve theories on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), social contracts, and organizational justice. Public administration ethics focus on constitutional theory, citizenship, social equity, virtue, and public interest. Several concepts were identified as relevant for ethical analyses in the WDP–RTW field, including justice; individual autonomy; nonmalevolence; economic and social responsibility; and social contracts. These concepts provide a vocabulary that may be used to analyze stakeholders’ actions and interactions in RTW processes. It was also noted how the power balance between stakeholders will influence which ethical perspectives will influence RTW. Jurisdictional differences that influence RTW processes with regard to stakeholder responsibilities were identified, as well as varying beliefs as to who is the client in different compensation systems. A social contractual approach may inform an analysis of cultural and legal differences.

Keywords

Business Ethics Medicine Public administration Social insurance Work disability 

Abbreviations

CSR

Corporate social responsibility

ISCT

Integrative social contract theory

RTW

Return-to-work

WDP

Work disability prevention

References

  1. Anema, J. R., Schellart, A. J. M., Cassidy, J. D., Loisel, P., Veerman, T. J., & van der Beek, A. J. (2009). Can cross country differences in return-to-work after chronic occupational back pain be explained? An exploratory analysis on disability policies in a six country cohort study. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 19(4), 419–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baïada-Hirèche, L., Pasquero, J., & Chanlat, J. F. (2011). Managerial responsibility as negotiated order: A social construction perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 101(SUPP 1), 17–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker, T., & Simon, J. (2002). Embracing risk: The changing culture of insurance and responsibility. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Balmer, J. M. T., Fukukawa, K., & Gray, E. R. (2007). The nature and management of ethical corporate identity: A commentary on corporate identity, corporate social responsibility and ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 76(1), 7–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barclay, L. A., & Markel, K. S. (2009). Ethical fairness and human rights: The treatment of employees with psychiatric disabilities. Journal of Business Ethics, 85(3), 333–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baril, R., Clarke, J., Friesen, M., Stock, S., & Cole, D. (2003). Management of return-to-work programs for workers with musculoskeletal disorders: A qualitative study in three Canadian provinces. Social Science and Medicine, 57(11), 2101–2114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bateman, C. R. (2012). Professional ethical standards: The journey toward effective codes of ethics. In N. P. Reilly, M. J. Sirgy, & C. A. Gorman (Eds.), Work and quality of life: Ethical practices in organizations. Radford: Springer.Google Scholar
  8. Beauchamp, T. L., & Childress, J. F. (2009). Principles of biomedical ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Brady, F. N. (2003). “Publics” administration and the ethics of particularity. Public Administration Review, 63(5), 525–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bültmann, U., Sherson, D., Olsen, J., Hansen, C. L., Lund, T., & Kilsgaard, J. (2009). Coordinated and tailored work rehabilitation: A randomized controlled trial with economic evaluation undertaken with workers on sick leave due to musculoskeletal disorders. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 19(1), 81–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carroll, A. B. (1991). The pyramid of corporate social responsibility: Toward the moral management of organizational stakeholders. Business horizons (July/August): 39–48.Google Scholar
  12. Christensen, T., & Laegrid, P. (2011). Ethics and administrative reforms. Public Management Review, 13(3), 459–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cohen-Charash, Y., & Spector, P. E. (2001). The role of justice in organizations: A meta analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 86(2), 278–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Colquitt, J. A., Conlon, D. E., Wesson, M. J., Porter, C. O. L. H., & Ng, K. Y. (2001). Justice at the millennium: A meta-analytic review of 25 years of organizational justice research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(3), 425–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cooper, T. (2004). Big questions in administrative ethics: A need for focused, collaborative effort. Public Administration Review, 64(4), 395–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. de Boer, W. E. L., Brenninkmeijer, V., & Zuidam, W. (2004). Long-term disability arrangements: A comparative study of assessments and quality control. Hoofddorp: TNO Work and Employment.Google Scholar
  17. Donaldson, T., & Dunfee, T. W. (1999). Ties that bind: A social contracts approach to business ethics. Boston: Harvard Business School.Google Scholar
  18. Dwyer, S. (2008). Thinking ethically in business. Penrith: Humanities-Ebooks, LLP.Google Scholar
  19. Eakin, J. M., MacEachen, E., Mansfield, E., & Clarke, J. (2009). The logic of practice: An ethnographic study of front-line service work with small businesses in Ontario’s Workplace safety and insurance board. Toronto: Institute for Work & Health.Google Scholar
  20. Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  21. Fooks, G., Gilmore, A., Collin, J., Holden, C., & Lee, K. (2013). The limits of corporate social responsibility: Techniques of neutralization, stakeholder management and political CSR. Journal of Business Ethics, 112(2), 283–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Franche, R-L., Baril, R., Shaw, W., Nicholas, M., & Loisel, P. (2005a). Workplace-based return-to-work interventions: Optimizing the role of stakeholders in implementation and research. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 15(4), 525–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Franche, R-L., Cullen, K., Clarke, J., Irvin, E., Sinclair, S., Frank, J., et al. (2005b). Workplace-based return-to-work interventions: A systematic review of the quantitative literature. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 15(4), 607–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Franche, R-L., Severin, C. N., Lee, H., Hogg-Johnson, S., Hepburn, C. G., Vidmar, M., et al. (2009). Perceived justice of compensation process for return-to-work: development and validation of a scale. Psychological Injury and Law, 2(3), 225–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Garriga, E., & Melé, D. (2004). Corporate social responsibility theories: Mapping the territory. Journal of Business Ethics, 53(1), 51–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Goodman, K. W. (2002). Ethics and evidence-based medicine: Fallibility and responsibility in clinical science. West Nyack: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gravel, S., Vissandjée, B., Lippel, K., Brodeur, J-M., Patry, L., & Champagne, F. (2010). Ethics and the compensation of immigrant workers for work-related injuries and illnesses. Journal of Immigrant Minority Health, 12(5), 707–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harris, D. M. (2011). Ethics in health services and policy: A global approach. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hart, S. M. (2010). Self-regulation, corporate social responsibility, and the business case: Do they work in achieving workplace equality and safety? Journal of Business Ethics, 92(4), 585–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hepburn, C. G., Franche, R-L., & Francis, L. (2010a). Successful return to work: The role of fairness and workplace-based strategies. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 3(1), 7–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hepburn, C. G., Kelloway, E. K., & Franche, R-L. (2010b). Early employer response to workplace injury: What injured workers perceive as fair and why these perceptions matter. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15(4), 409–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Herrisone-Kelly, P. (2011). Determining the common morality’s norms in the sixth edition of Principles of Biomedical Ethics. Journal of Medical Ethics, 37(10), 584–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Khushf, G. (Ed.). (2004). Handbook of bioethics: Taking stock of the field from a philosophical perspective. Hingham: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  34. Korpi, W., & Palme, J. (1998). The paradox of redistribution and strategies of equality: Welfare state institutions, inequality, and poverty in the Western countries. American Sociological Review, 63(5), 661–687.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lawrence, D. J. (2007). The four principles of biomedical ethics: A foundation for current bioethical debate. Journal of Chiropractic Humanities, 14, 34–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Leinonen, T., Pietiläinen, O., Laaksonen, M., Rahkonen, O., Lahelma, E., & Martikainen, P. (2011). Occupational social class and disability retirement among municipal employees—The contribution of health behaviors and working conditions. Scandinavian Journal of Work and Environmental Medicine, 37(6), 464–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lindqvist, R. (2003). Vocational rehabilitation between work and welfare—The Swedish experience. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 5(1), 68–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lippel, K. (1999). Therapeutic and anti-therapeutic consequences of workers’ compensation. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 22(5–6), 521–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lippel, K. (2003). Compensation for musculoskeletal disorders in Quebec: Systemic discrimination against women workers? International Journal of Health Services, 33(2), 253–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lippel, K. (2007). Workers describe the effect of the workers’ compensation process on their health: A Québec study. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 30(4–5), 427–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lippel, K. (2012). Preserving workers’ dignity in workers’ compensation systems: An international perspective. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 55(6), 519–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Loisel, P. (2009). Developing a new paradigm: Work disability prevention. ICOH Special Issue, pp. 1–5.Google Scholar
  43. Loisel, P., Buchbinder, R., Hazard, R., Keller, R., Scheel, I., van Tulder, M., et al. (2005). Prevention of work disability due to musculoskeletal disorders: The challenge of implementing evidence. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 15(4), 507–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Luhmann, N. (1995). Social systems. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Lundquist, L. (2007). Public administration theory and public administration change. In G. Gjelstrup & E. Sørensen (Eds.), Public administration in transition: Theory, practice, methodology. Copenhagen: DJØF.Google Scholar
  46. MacEachen, E., Ferrier, S., Kosny, A., & Chamber, L. (2007). A deliberation on ‘hurt versus harm’ logic in early-return-to-work policy. Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 2, 41–62.Google Scholar
  47. MacEachen, E., Kosny, A., Ferrier, S., & Chamber, L. (2010). The “toxic dose” of system problems: Why some injured workers don’t return to work as expected. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 20(3), 349–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. MacEachen, E., Kosny, A., Ferrier, S., Lippel, K., Neilson, C., Franche, R-L., et al. (2012). The ‘ability’ paradigm in vocational rehabilitation: Challenges in an Ontario injured worker retraining program. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 22(1), 105–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Maignan, I., & Ferrell, O. C. (2004). Corporate social responsibility and marketing: An integrative framework. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 32(1), 3–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Martinez, J. M. (2009). Public administration ethics for the 21st century. Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio.Google Scholar
  51. Murray, G. (2010). Framing globalization and work: A research agenda. Journal of Industrial Relations, 52(1), 11–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Müssener, U., Upmark, M., Festin, K., & Alexanderson, K. (2008). Positive experiences of encounters with healthcare and social insurance professionals among people on long-term sick leave. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 40, 805–811.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Radnor, Z. J., Holweg, M., & Waring, J. (2012). Lean in healthcare: The unfilled promise? Social Science and Medicine, 74(3), 364–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Reilly, N. P., Sirgy, M. J., & Gorman, C. A. (Eds.). (2012). Work and quality of life: Ethical practices in organizations. Springer: Radford.Google Scholar
  56. Rendtorff, J. D. (2009). Responsibility, ethics and legitimacy of corporations. Frederiksberg: Copenhagen Business School Press.Google Scholar
  57. Roberts, K., & Young, W. (1997). Procedural fairness, return to work, and the decision to dispute in workers’ compensation. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 10(3), 193–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Roberts-Yates, C. (2003). The concerns and issues of injured workers in relation to claims/injury management and rehabilitation: The need for new operational frameworks. Disability and Rehabilitation, 25(16), 898–907.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Schwartz, M. S., & Carroll, A. B. (2003). Corporate social responsibility: A three-domain approach. Business Ethics Quarterly, 13(4), 503–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Seing, I., Ståhl, C., Nordenfelt, L., Bülow, P., & Ekberg, K. (2012). Policy and practice of work ability: A negotiation of responsibility in organizing return to work. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 22(4), 553–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Ståhl, C., Müssener, U., & Svensson, T. (2012). Implementation of standardized time limits in sickness insurance and return-to-work: Experiences of four actors. Disability and Rehabilitation, 34(16), 1404–1411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Stensöta, H. O. (2010). The conditions of care: Reframing the debate about public sector ethics. Public Administration Review, 70(2), 295–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Strunin, L., & Boden, L. I. (2000). Paths of reentry: Employment experiences of injured workers. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 38(4), 373–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Strunin, L., & Boden, L. I. (2004). The workers’ compensation system: Worker friend of foe? American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 45(4), 338–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Svensson, T., & Björklund, A. (2010). Focus on health, motivation, and pride: A discussion of three theoretical perspectives on the rehabilitation of sick-listed people. Work, 36, 273–282.Google Scholar
  66. Tjulin, Å., MacEachen, E., & Ekberg, K. (2010). Exploring workplace actors experiences of the social organization of return-to-work. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 20(3), 311–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Treviño, L. K., Weaver, G. R., & Reynolds, S. J. (2006). Behavioral ethics in organizations: A review. Journal of Management, 32(6), 951–990.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Vaughn, B. T. (1998). Ethical dilemmas encountered by private sector rehabilitation practitioners. Journal of Rehabilitation, 64(4), 47–51.Google Scholar
  69. Vonk, G. J., & Tollenaar, A. (Eds.). (2010). Social security as a public interest: A multidisciplinary inquiry into the foundations of the regulatory welfare state. Antwerp: Intersentia.Google Scholar
  70. Weaver, G. R., Treviño, L. K., & Cochran, P. L. (1999). Corporate ethics practices in the mid-1990’s: An empirical study of the fortune 1000. Journal of Business Ethics, 18(3), 283–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Westerholm, P. (2007). Professional ethics in occupational health—Western European perspectives. Industrial Health, 45(1), 19–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Westerholm, P., Nilstun, T., & Øvretveit, J. (Eds.). (2004). Practical ethics in occupational health. Oxford: Radcliffe Medical Press.Google Scholar
  73. Young, A. E., Wasiak, R., Roessler, R. T., McPherson, K. M., Anema, J. R., & van Poppel, M. N. M. (2005). Return-to-work outcomes following work disability: Stakeholder motivations, interests and concerns. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 15(4), 543–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Ståhl
    • 1
  • Ellen MacEachen
    • 2
    • 4
  • Katherine Lippel
    • 3
  1. 1.National Centre for Work and Rehabilitation, Department of Medical and Health SciencesLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  2. 2.Institute for Work & HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Canada Research Chair on Occupational Health and Safety Law, Law Faculty, Civil Law SectionUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  4. 4.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations