Research and Ideas

Timely research on business ethics, corporate responsibility, and the role of business in society from the Center for Business Ethics' Director, Fellows, and affiliated Seattle University faculty.

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Sponsored Research

The Center's Director, Fellows, and affiliated faculty from Seattle University are actively engaged in timely research examining business ethics, corporate responsibility, and the role of business in society. Some of their most recent work is outlined below.

Caitlin Ring Carlson, Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor of Communication & Media, Seattle University

This discussion brings the most recent research regarding corporate social responsibility to bear on the most pressing questions about digital content moderation. The discussion begins with an overview of the content moderation process and then makes a case for why corporate social responsibility can and should be used to offer fresh insights into these complex questions. It then undertakes a thought exercise, which uses the four major theories of modern corporate social responsibility, to determine what guidance these approaches can provide social media companies.

The end result of this analysis is a set of recommendations and potential directions for social media organizations to consider in their decision-making around content moderation. Any firm wrestling can utilize the process itself with complex ethical questions regarding the impact of its business practices.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Content Moderation

Onur Bakiner, Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor of Political Science, Seattle University

This discussion identifies major risks of Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, introduces the reader to the terms of today’s debates on the ethical uses of AI, defined as attempts to understand, criticize, reform and transform AI systems for social good, and then examines proposed solutions to mitigate or eliminate these risks. It pays specific attention to the interaction of business- and industry-level solutions with government regulation and draws upon the latest academic research on AI ethics as well as news coverage of the topic.

Regulation and Artificial Intelligence Ethics: The State of Play

Marc Cohen, Faculty Fellow and Professor of Management and Philosophy, Seattle University

This paper explores how to build a culture of trust in organizations. The experimental research shows that a culture of trust is created when leaders treat employees and other business partners as if they are reliable, even when there is little information to be had about their reliability. The research also suggests that attempts to monitor and control the actions of employees and partners can backfire, creating less trustworthy behavior. Finally, there are ongoing positive effects of trusting behavior, economically and psychologically, which reduces opportunistic behavior within and between organizations.

The Crisis of Trust and Trustworthiness in Organizations

Valentina Zamora, Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor of Accounting, Seattle University

This paper highlights some key insights from academic research on corporate social responsibility disclosures (CSRD) and their perceived credibility. Research suggests that companies need to provide credibility cues regarding the knowledge, veracity, and intent standing behind their CSRD. Accordingly, different stakeholders, including investors, consumers, and employees, judge CSRD as more credible when the disclosures are: assured by third parties users deem as reliable; mapped to an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) measurement framework users view as relevant; and aligned with actions reflective of the company’s authentic commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Corporate Social Responsibility Disclosure Credibility

Faculty Publications

Faculty from the Albers School of Business and Economics have published widely in areas related to business ethics, corporate responsibility, and the role of business and society. Review their work across different disciplines below.

  • Jensen, G., Johnson, R., Phillips, J. (1993). Socially responsible investing: using human resource policy as a selection criterion. Journal of Business and Economic Studies 2(1):9-22.

  • Jensen, G., Johnson, R., Phillips, J. (1994). Catholic social teaching and human resource policy: implications for equity investors. On the Condition of Labor and the Social Question One Hundred Years Later, edited by Thomas O. Nitsch, Joseph M. Phillips and Edward Fitzsimmons, Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1994.

  • Chan, K., Fung, H., Yau, J. (2013). Predominant sources and contributors of influential business ethics research: evidence and implications from a threshold citation analysis. Business Ethics: European Review 22(3):263-276.