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Towards an Ethical Research Agenda for International HRM: The Possibilities of a Plural Cosmopolitan Framework


  • Maddy Janssens


  • Chris Steyaert



In this conceptual paper, we aim to develop a much needed ethical research agenda for international Human Resource Management (HRM), given that the changing geopolitical dynamics interrogate the political role of multinational companies and the ethical stance they take in their HRM practices. To theoretically ground this agenda, we turn to cosmopolitanism and distinguish three main perspectives—political, cultural, and social—each of which implies a different understanding of the self–other relation in the context of the global world. We translate the core and ethical stance of each perspective to the field of international HRM, presenting three different foci of an ethical research agenda in terms of the ethical implications for multinational companies, research focus, methodological suggestions, and inherent limitations. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Maddy Janssens & Chris Steyaert, 2012. "Towards an Ethical Research Agenda for International HRM: The Possibilities of a Plural Cosmopolitan Framework," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 111(1), pages 61-72, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:111:y:2012:i:1:p:61-72
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1478-0

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Crane, Andrew & Gilbert, Dirk Ulrich & Goodpaster, Kenneth E. & Miceli, Marcia P. & Moore, Geoff & Reynolds, Scott J. & Schminke, Marshall & Waddock, Sandra & Weaver, Gary R. & Wicks, Andrew C., 2011. "Comments on BEQ’s Twentieth Anniversary Forum on New Directions for Business Ethics Research," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(01), pages 157-187, January.
    2. Harzing, Anne-Wil, 2001. "Of bears, bumble-bees, and spiders: the role of expatriates in controlling foreign subsidiaries," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 366-379, January.
    3. Dorothea Baur & Hans Schmitz, 2012. "Corporations and NGOs: When Accountability Leads to Co-optation," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 106(1), pages 9-21, March.
    4. Doh, Jonathan & Husted, Bryan W. & Matten, Dirk & Santoro, Michael, 2010. "Ahoy There! Toward Greater Congruence and Synergy Between International Business and Business Ethics Theory and Research," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(03), pages 481-502, July.
    5. Banerjee, Subhabrata Bobby, 2010. "Governing the Global Corporation: A Critical Perspective," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(02), pages 265-274, April.
    6. Maddy Janssens & Chris Steyaert, 2009. "HRM and Performance: A Plea for Reflexivity in HRM Studies," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 143-155, January.
    7. Janssens, Maddy & Cappellen, Tineke & Zanoni, Patrizia, 2006. "Successful female expatriates as agents: Positioning oneself through gender, hierarchy, and culture," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 133-148, June.
    8. Kobrin, Stephen J., 2009. "Private Political Authority and Public Responsibility: Transnational Politics, Transnational Firms, and Human Rights," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(03), pages 349-374, July.
    9. Bernadette Loacker & Sara Muhr, 2009. "How Can I Become a Responsible Subject? Towards a Practice-Based Ethics of Responsiveness," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 90(2), pages 265-277, December.
    10. Andreas Georg Scherer & Guido Palazzo, 2011. "The New Political Role of Business in a Globalized World: A Review of a New Perspective on CSR and its Implications for the Firm, Governance, and Democracy," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(4), pages 899-931, June.
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    International HRM; Cosmopolitanism; Ethics;


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