Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 117, Issue 4, pp 707–719 | Cite as

The Genesis of Employment Ethics

Article

Abstract

Given the growing interest in religion and spirituality in the community and workplace, we consider what light one of the oldest sources of human ethics, the Torah, can throw on the vexing issues of contemporary employment ethics and social sustainability. We specifically consider the Torah because it is the primary document of Judaism, the source of all the basic Biblical commandments, and a framework of ethics. A distinctive feature of Jewish ethics is its interpretive approach to moral philosophy: that is, immersion and sense making in a dense, lived-in, complicated moral world, which is particularly useful with regard to ethical analyses of the workplace. Rather than discover or create a new ethic for the employer–employee relationship, we seek to harness general principles and norms from the Torah to contemporary business conditions. In the spirit of sustainability, rather than plunder the new, we recreate from existing resources. Interpretations from the Torah provide a rich source of moral and practical guidance for contemporary business ethics while also responding to academic and popular interest in spirituality and business. These tenets, however, have not to date been specifically directed at current predicaments in employment. We redress this by deriving principles from the Torah and applying them to ethical issues in contemporary employment practices. Practical guidance for both research in and practice of employment ethics is also provided.

Keywords

Employment ethics Employees Ethical principles Torah Workplace practices Social sustainability 

References

  1. Adeney, B. T. (2004). The bible and culture in ethics from strange virtues: Ethics in a multicultural world. In S. B. Rae & K. L. Wong (Eds.), Beyond integrity: A Judeo-Christian approach to business ethics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.Google Scholar
  2. Adler, P., Parsons, C. K., & Zolke, S. B. (1985). Employee privacy: Legal and research developments and implications for personnel administration. Sloan Management Review, 26(2), 13–22.Google Scholar
  3. Agle, B. R., & Van Buren, III, H. J. (1999). God and Mammon: The modern relationship. Business Ethics Quarterly, 9(4), 563–582.Google Scholar
  4. Albaum, G., & Peterson, R. A. (2006). Ethical attitudes of future business leaders: Do they vary by gender and religiosity? Business & Society, 45(3), 300–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ali, A. J., & Gibbs, M. (1998). Foundation of business ethics in contemporary religious thought: The Ten Commandment perspective. International Journal of Social Economics, 25(10), 1552–1564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Angelidis, J., & Ibrahim, N. (2004). An exploratory study of the impact of degree of religiousness upon an individual’s corporate social responsiveness orientation. Journal of Business Ethics, 51(2), 119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Arnold, D. G., & Hartman, L. P. (2006). Worker rights and low wage industrialization: How to avoid sweatshops. Human Rights Quarterly, 28(3), 676–700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bassiry, G. R., & Jones, M. (1993). Adam Smith and the ethics of contemporary capitalism. Journal of Business Ethics, 12(8), 621–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Beed, C., & Beed, C. (2002). Judeo-Christian principles for employment organisation. Journal of Socio Economics, 31(5), 457–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Beed, C., & Beed, C. (2004). Distributional implications of contemporary Judeo-Christian economics. International Journal of Social Economics, 31(9/10), 903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Beekun, R. I. (1996). Islamic business ethics. Herndon, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought.Google Scholar
  12. Bennis, W. G., & O’Toole, J. (2005). How business schools lost their way. Harvard Business Review, 83(5), 96–104.Google Scholar
  13. Brackman, L., & Jaffe, S. (2008). Jewish wisdom for business success: Lessons from the Torah and other ancient texts. New York: AMACOM.Google Scholar
  14. Brief, A. P., & Aldag, R. J. (1977). Work values as moderators of perceived leader behavior–satisfaction relationships. Work and Occupations, 4(1), 99–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Brown, J. R., & Holtz-Eakin, D. (2006). Comments and discussion on reforming the defined-benefit pension system. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2006(1), 286–304. Google Scholar
  16. Brown, K., & Korczynski, M. (2010). When caring and surveillance technology meet. Work and Occupations, 37(3), 404–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Budd, J. W. (2004). Employment with a human face: Balancing efficiency, equity, and voice. Ithaca: ILR Press an imprint of Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Cadbury, A. (2002). Corporate governance and chairmanship: A personal view. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Campbell, J. (2008). The exodus and strategic quality management of temples and skyscrapers. Paper presented at academy of management annual meeting, 8–13 August 2008.Google Scholar
  20. Carver, R. H. (2004). If the river stopped: A Talmudic perspective on downsizing. Journal of Business Ethics, 50(2), 137–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Conroy, S. J., & Emerson, T. L. N. (2004). Business ethics and religion: Religiosity as a predictor of ethical awareness among students. Journal of Business Ethics, 50(4), 383–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Crane, A. (2000). Marketing, morality and the natural environment. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Danziger, S. (1996). ‘Rediscovering the Hirschian legacy. Jewish Action, 56(4), Online. http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/Danziger.pdf%5D.
  24. De George, R. (1981). Ethical responsibilities of engineers in large organizations: The Pinto case. Business and Professional Ethics Journal, 1(1), 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Denzin, N. K. (2001). Interpretive interactionism. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  26. Donin, H. H. (1991). To be a Jew: Guide to Jewish observance in contemporary life. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  27. Dorff, E. N. (1997). Judaism, business and privacy. Business Ethics Quarterly, 7(2), 31–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dreher, A., & Gaston, N. (2008). Has globalization increased inequality? Review of International Economics, 16(3), 516–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Elon, M., Auerbach, B., & Sykes, M. (1994). Jewish law: History, sources, principles. Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society.Google Scholar
  30. Freeman, R. E. (1984). Strategic management: A stakeholder approach. Boston: Pitman.Google Scholar
  31. Friedman, H. H. (1985). Ethical behavior in business: A hierarchical approach from the Talmud. Journal of Business Ethics, 4(2), 117–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Friedman, H. H. (2000). Biblical foundations of business ethics. Journal of Markets & Morality, 3(1), 43–57.Google Scholar
  33. Friedman, H. H. (2001). The impact of Jewish values on marketing and business practices. Journal of Macromarketing, 21(1), 74–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Friedman, H. H. (2002). Geneivat da’at: The prohibition against deception in today’s world. Retrieved from http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/placingstumbling.html.
  35. Friedman, H. H. (2003). Creating a company code of ethics: Using the bible as a guide. Electronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organization Studies, 8(1). Google Scholar
  36. Friedman, B. A., & Reed, L. J. (2007). Workplace privacy: Employee relations and legal implications of monitoring employee e-mail use. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 19(2), 75–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Green, R. M. (1997). Guiding principles of Jewish business ethics. Business Ethics Quarterly, 7(2), 21–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Greenleaf, R. K. (1996). On becoming a servant–leader. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  39. Greenwood, M. R. (2000). The study of business ethics: A case for Dr. Seuss. Business Ethics: A European Review, 9(3), 155–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Greenwood, M., & Anderson, E. (2009). ‘I used to be an employee but now I am a stakeholder’: Implications of labelling employees as stakeholders. Asia Pacific Human Resource Journal, 47(2), 186–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Greenwood, M. R., Holland, P., & Choong, K. (2006). Re-evaluating drug testing: Questions of moral and symbolic control. In J. Deckop, R. Giacalone, & C. L. Jurkiewicz (Eds.), Human resource management ethics (pp. 161–180). Greenwich CT: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  42. Hacker, J. S. (2006). The great risk shift: The assault on American jobs, families, health care, and retirement and how you can fight back. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Herbert, D. (2003). Religion and civil society: Rethinking public religion in the contemporary world. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  44. Hochschild, A. (1997). The time bind: When work becomes home and home becomes work. New York: Henry Holt and Company.Google Scholar
  45. Jacobs, J. (2003). The living wage: A Jewish approach. Conservative Judaism, 56(3), 38–51.Google Scholar
  46. Jacobs, J. (2008). Work, workers and the Jewish owner. New York: Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Rabbis.Google Scholar
  47. Jones, L. B. (1996). Jesus CEO: Using ancient wisdom for visionary leadership. New York: Hyperion.Google Scholar
  48. Jurkiewicz, C. L., & Giacalone, R. A. (2004). A values framework for measuring the impact of workplace spirituality on organizational performance. Journal of Business Ethics, 45(2), 129–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kaiser, W. C. (1983). Toward Old Testament ethics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.Google Scholar
  50. Kaler, J. (2002). Morality and strategy in stakeholder identification. Journal of Business Ethics, 39(1), 91–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kamoche, K. (2006). Managing people in turbulent economic times: A knowledge-creation and appropriation perspective. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 44(1), 25–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kennedy, E. J., & Lawton, L. (1998). Religiousness and business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 17(2), 163–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Khurana, R. (2007). From higher aims to hired hands: The social transformation of American business schools and the unfulfilled promise of management as a profession. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  54. King, J. E., Jr. (2008). (Dis)missing the obvious: Will mainstream management research ever take religion seriously? Journal of Management Inquiry, 17(3), 214–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Kochan, T. A. (2005). Restoring the American dream: A working families’ agenda for America. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  56. Koys, D. J. (2001). Integrating religious principles and human resource management activities. Teaching Business Ethics, 5(2), 121–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Leicht, K. T. (2010). Nickels and dimes won’t fix this. Work and Occupations, 37(2), 225–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Linder, M., & Nygaard, I. (1998). Void where prohibited: Rest breaks and the right to urinate on company time. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press.Google Scholar
  59. Lipscomb, H. J., McDonald, M. A., Dement, J. M., Schoenfisch, A. L., & Epling, C. A. (2007). Are we failing vulnerable workers? The case of black women in poultry processing in rural North Carolina. New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, 17(1–2), 17–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. MacIntyre, A. (1985). After virtue: A study in moral theory. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  61. MacIntyre, A. (1988). Whose justice? Which rationality? Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  62. Mayhew, C., & Quinlan, M. (1999). The effects of outsourcing on occupational health and safety: A comparative study of factory-based workers and outworkers in the Australian clothing industry. International Journal of Health Services, 29(1), 83–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Mazereeuw, C., Graafland, J., & Kaptein, M. (2008). Unfolding the relationship between religion and socially responsible conduct. Paper presented at Academy of Management Annual Meeting, 8–13 August 2008.Google Scholar
  64. McIntosh, D. N., Silver, R. C., & Wortman, C. B. (1993). Religion’s role in adjustment to a negative life event: Coping with the loss of a child. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 812–821.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. McKenzie, S. (2004). Social sustainability: Towards some definitions. Hawke Research Institute Working Paper Series No. 27. Adelaide: Hawke Research Institute, University of South Australia.Google Scholar
  66. Micklethwait, J., & Wooldridge, A. (2009). God is back: How the global revival of faith is changing the world. New York: Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  67. Mishel, L., Bernstein, J., & Allegretto, S. (2007). The state of working America 2006/2007. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press.Google Scholar
  68. Mitchell, R. K., Agle, B. R., & Wood, D. J. (1997). Towards a theory of stakeholder identification and salience: Defining the principle of who and what really counts. Academy of Management Review, 22(4), 853–886.Google Scholar
  69. Mitroff, I. I., & Denton, E. A. (1999). A spiritual audit of corporate America: A hard look at spirituality, religion, and ethics in the workplace. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  70. Muller, J. Z. (1995). Adam Smith in his time and ours. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Nash, L. L. (1994). Believers in business. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.Google Scholar
  72. Nash, L., & McLennan, S. (2001). Church on Sunday, work on Monday: The challenge of fusing Christian values with business life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  73. Pava, M. L. (1996). ‘The Talmudic concept of ‘beyond the letter of the law’: Relevance to business social responsibilities. Journal of Business Ethics, 15(9), 941–950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Pava, M. L. (1997a). Business ethics: A Jewish perspective. Hoboken, NJ: KTAV Publishing House.Google Scholar
  75. Pava, M. L. (1997b). Religious business ethics as interpretation: A Jewish perspective. International Journal of Value-Based Management, 10, 9–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Pava, M. L. (1998). The substance of Jewish business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 17(6), 603–617.Google Scholar
  77. Pollin, R., & Luce, S. (1998). Living wage: Building a fair economy. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  78. Randall, D. M., & Cote, J. A. (1991). Interrelationships of work commitment constructs. Work and Occupations, 18(2), 194–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Rhodes, C., & Brown, A. D. (2005). Writing responsibly: Narrative fiction and organization studies. Organization, 12(4), 467–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Rice, G. (1999). Islamic ethics and the implications for business. Journal of Business Ethics, 18, 345–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Sachs, J. D. (2005). The end of poverty: Economic possibilities for our time. New York: Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  82. Schnall, D. J. (1993). Exploratory notes on employee productivity and accountability in classic Jewish sources. Journal of Business Ethics, 12(6), 485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Shipler, D. (2004). The working poor: Invisible in America. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  84. Steingard, D. S. (2005). Spiritually-informed management theory toward profound possibilities for inquiry and transformation. Journal of Management Inquiry, 14(3), 227–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Tamari, M. (1997). The challenge of wealth: Jewish business ethics. Business Ethics Quarterly, 7(2), 45–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Van Buren, III, H. J. (1999). Acting more generously than the law requires: The Issue of employee layoffs in Halakhah. Journal of Business Ethics, 19, 335–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Van Buren, III, H. J. (2001). If fairness is the problem, is consent the solution? Integrating ISCT and stakeholder theory. Business Ethics Quarterly, 11(3), 481–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Van Buren, III, H. J. (2005). An employee-centered model of corporate social performance. Business Ethics Quarterly, 15, 687–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Van Buren, III, H. J., & Greenwood, M. (2008). Enhancing employee voice: Are voluntary employer–employee partnerships enough? Journal of Business Ethics, 81(1), 209–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Van Buren, III, H. J., & Greenwood, M. (2009). Stakeholder voice: A problem, a solution, and a challenge for managers and academics. Philosophy of Management, 8(3), 15–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Wagner-Tsukamoto, S. (2009). Is God an economist? An institutional economic reconstruction of the Old Testament. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Walzer, M. (1987). Interpretation and social criticism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  93. Weber, M. (2001/1930). The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  94. West, C., & Hewett, S. A. (1999). The war against parents. New York: Mariner Books.Google Scholar
  95. Williams, C. L., Giuffre, P. A., & Dellinger, K. (1999). Sexuality in the workplace: Organizational control, sexual harassment, and the pursuit of pleasure. Annual Review of Sociology, 25, 73–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Williams, G., & Zinkin, J. (2009). Islam and CSR: A study of the compatibility between the tenets of Islam and the UN Global Compact. Journal of Business Ethics, 91(5), 519–533.Google Scholar
  97. Wuthnow, R. (1998). After heaven: Spirituality in America since the 1950s. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anderson School of ManagementUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  2. 2.Department of Management, Faculty of Business and EconomicsMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

Personalised recommendations