Issue-Driven Progress in Business Ethics: When the Responsibility to
Protect Values Requires Companies to Introduce New Norms
This article is about when a company should introduce a new ethical
norm. By using the Value–Belief–Norm theory, I argue that the
more an ethical issue threatens an ethical value and the more a company
has an ethical responsibility to protect such value against such threat,
then the more desirable it is for a company to establish ethical norms
to protect that particular value. The introduction of a new ethical norm
then becomes more desirable when the threat from such an ethical issue
increases and/or the ethical responsibility of the company increases.
Distinguishing seven characteristics of an ethical issue and four
conditions of a company’s ethical responsibility helps in identifying
the situation in which a company should introduce a new ethical norm.
The resulting framework, with corresponding guidelines, explains why and
when progress in business ethics is needed.