Journal of Business Ethics

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

The Genesis of Employment Ethics



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.


Employment ethics Employees Ethical principles Torah Workplace practices Social sustainability 



We thank Rabbi Ehud Bandel for drawing our attention to this important point and his interest in our endeavors.


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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

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