Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 16, Issue 15, pp 1625–1636 | Cite as

Towards an Understanding of Ethical Behaviour in Small Firms

  • S. Vyakarnam
  • A. Bailey
  • A. Myers
  • D. Burnett


Allthough small business accounts for over 90% of businesses in U.K. and indeed elsewhere, they remain the largely uncharted area of ethics. There has not been any research based on the perspective of small business owners, to define what echical delemmas they face and how, if at all, they resolve them. This paper explores ethics from the perspective of small business owner, using focus groups and reports on four clearly identifiable themes of ethical delemmas; entrepreneurial activity itself, conflicts of personal values with business needs, social responsibility and the impact of owners' personality on business ethics. The mechanisms for resolving ethical dilemmas is not at all clear, as there appears to be a web of filters which are used in an inter-connected way. However a common starting point for resolving an ethical delemma which involves others is based on identifying who it is (e.g., a friend or institution) and the quality of the relationship with that person. The research yielded a rich source of material on business ethics and it is clear that future researchers must focus on this sector if business ethics is to make significant advances.


Focus Group Economic Growth Business Ethic Social Responsibility Small Business 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Vyakarnam
    • 1
  • A. Bailey
    • 1
  • A. Myers
    • 1
  • D. Burnett
    • 1
  1. 1.Nottingham Business SchoolNottingham

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