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Ethics in Nanotechnology: What’s Being Done? What’s Missing?


  • Louis Lu


  • Bruce Lin


  • John Liu


  • Chang-Yung Yu



Nanotechnology shows great promise in a variety of applications with attractive economic and societal benefits. However, societal issues associated with nanotechnology are still a concern to the general public. While numerous technological advancements in nanotechnology have been achieved over the past decade, research into the broader societal issues of nanotechnology is still in its early phases. Based on the data from the Web of Science database, we applied the main path analysis, cluster analysis and text mining tools to explore the main research fronts and hierarchical structure of these societal issues. We found that the research studies fell into four categories: “General Toxicity and EHS (Environment, Health and Safety),” “Medicine and Cytotoxicity,” “Assessment and Regulation,” and “Environment and Ecotoxicity.” These research studies have disclosed much information about the potential effect of nanotechnology on public health and the environment. Relatively speaking, the studies on the assessment, regulation, preventive solutions, and environmental protection are just emerging. This finding indicates that an abundance of effort should be conducted on these emerging themes to maximize the benefits of nanotechnology while minimizing its potential harm. The implications for various parties in this domain are also presented. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Louis Lu & Bruce Lin & John Liu & Chang-Yung Yu, 2012. "Ethics in Nanotechnology: What’s Being Done? What’s Missing?," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 109(4), pages 583-598, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:109:y:2012:i:4:p:583-598
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1432-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chris Groves & Lori Frater & Robert Lee & Elen Stokes, 2011. "Is There Room at the Bottom for CSR? Corporate Social Responsibility and Nanotechnology in the UK," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 101(4), pages 525-552, July.
    2. Kirsten Martin & R. Freeman, 2004. "The Separation of Technology and Ethics in Business Ethics," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 53(4), pages 353-364, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Vincent C. Ma & John S. Liu, 2016. "Exploring the research fronts and main paths of literature: a case study of shareholder activism research," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 109(1), pages 33-52, October.
    2. João Guerreiro & Paulo Rita & Duarte Trigueiros, 2016. "A Text Mining-Based Review of Cause-Related Marketing Literature," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 139(1), pages 111-128, November.
    3. Chuang, Thomas C. & Liu, John S. & Lu, Louis Y.Y. & Lee, Yachi, 2014. "The main paths of medical tourism: From transplantation to beautification," Tourism Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 49-58.
    4. Bongsug (Kevin) Chae & Eunhye (Olivia) Park, 2018. "Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): A Survey of Topics and Trends Using Twitter Data and Topic Modeling," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(7), pages 1-20, June.
    5. Chen, Kaihua & Zhang, Yi & Fu, Xiaolan, 2019. "International research collaboration: An emerging domain of innovation studies?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 149-168.


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