Process and ethics in collaborative management research
In contrast to the restrictive focus of ethical formalism on the process of applying explicit and formal rules to adjudicate on matters of moral concern, reflection on ethics-in-practice adds the informal, implicit, situational and political nature of ethical action as a social process. Such reflections incorporate and address the inevitable ‘practice gap’ between what rules prescribe and situations demand. Calls for greater transparency and reflexivity on this social process recommend cultivating a greater sensitivity towards and honesty about such ethical activities. One way of enhancing such awareness is through the documentation of and reflection on case studies that capture frequently suppressed and often ‘not talked about’ moral dimensions of academic research. This paper provides such a case study drawn from a four-year collaborative academic-government-industry funded business research project. It concludes by positing ritual analysis as a potential way forward in conceptualising the empirical reflections of the project’s ‘ethics process’.