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Understanding Sustainability Innovations Through Positive Ethical Networks


  • Zahir Dossa


  • Katrin Kaeufer



In this paper, a positive organizational ethics (POE)-based framework is informed by the microfinance and socially responsible investing movements to capture the process of sustainable financial innovations. Both of these movements are uniquely characterized by the formation of positive ethical networks (PENs) to develop sustainability innovations in response to external crises. The crisis–PEN–innovation framework proposed makes four contributions to the POE literature: (1) positions corporate sustainability through a POE lens; (2) formalizes the PEN construction through POE theory; (3) proposes PENs are mobilized to respond to external crises; and (4) demonstrates how PENs facilitate sustainability innovations. The theoretical framework is tested using theory-guided process tracing in the sustainable banking sector to understand how sustainability innovations were realized. The findings are consistent with the crisis–PEN–innovation framework proposed. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Zahir Dossa & Katrin Kaeufer, 2014. "Understanding Sustainability Innovations Through Positive Ethical Networks," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 119(4), pages 543-559, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:119:y:2014:i:4:p:543-559
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-013-1834-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kaptein, Muel & Wempe, Johan, 2002. "The Balanced Company: A Theory of Corporate Integrity," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199255511.
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    4. Salzmann, Oliver & Ionescu-somers, Aileen & Steger, Ulrich, 2005. "The Business Case for Corporate Sustainability:: Literature Review and Research Options," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 27-36, February.
    5. James Crotty, 2009. "Structural causes of the global financial crisis: a critical assessment of the 'new financial architecture'," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(4), pages 563-580, July.
    6. Hollis, Aidan & Sweetman, Arthur, 1998. "Microcredit in Prefamine Ireland," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 347-380, October.
    7. Sekerka, Leslie E. & Stimel, Derek, 2011. "How durable is sustainable enterprise? Ecological sustainability meets the reality of tough economic times," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 115-124.
    8. Amy Verbos & Joseph Gerard & Paul Forshey & Charles Harding & Janice Miller, 2007. "The Positive Ethical Organization: Enacting a Living Code of Ethics and Ethical Organizational Identity," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 76(1), pages 17-33, November.
    9. Robert H. Bates & Avner Greif & Margaret Levi & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 1998. "Analytic Narratives," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 6355.
    10. Phillips, Robert A., 2010. "Ethics and Network Organizations," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(03), pages 533-543, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:5:p:721-:d:97632 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Alan Murray & Keith Skene & Kathryn Haynes, 2017. "The Circular Economy: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Concept and Application in a Global Context," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 369-380, February.


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