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Knowledge Stewardship as an Ethos-Driven Approach to Business Ethics

Abstract

As a field spanning interests among researchers and business professionals, business ethics aims to provide guidance on what can be considered morally right, socially acceptable and legally transparent dealings in the human activity of providing goods or services for trade. Yet, cohesive theory of the ethics of business is lacking, and current ethical practices often fall victim to fluctuating business conditions and circumstances. Thus, stewardship theory is proposed as a more enduring and empowering orientation to more mindful business ethics that is borne out of organizational character, and knowledge stewardship is introduced as a set of practices that can support improved ethical behavior in organizations from an ethos-driven perspective. A definition of knowledge stewardship is provided in this article, and its associated outcomes of authenticity, authority and advocacy are highlighted. Practical recommendations are put forward to assist organizations in their development of stronger stewardship behavior, and exploratory research questions that heighten attentiveness to knowledge stewardship are presented.

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Abbreviations

CSO:

Civil society organization

CSR:

Corporate and social responsibility

KM:

Knowledge management

KS:

Knowledge stewardship

NGO:

Non-governmental organization

OL:

Organizational learning

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Compliance with ethical standards

This article is conceptual in nature and does not include methods, procedures, or data related to human or animal subjects. The manuscript has been prepared in accordance with the appropriate ethical standards for research.

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Correspondence to Stuart M. Belle.

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Belle, S.M. Knowledge Stewardship as an Ethos-Driven Approach to Business Ethics. J Bus Ethics 142, 83–91 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-015-2710-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-015-2710-5

Keywords

  • Business ethics
  • Learning organizations
  • Knowledge stewardship
  • Organizational ethos