Society of African Journal Editors

African journal of Business Ethics

Consider the following scenario: “A politically connected White Western European businessman offers to smooth the way for your company to sell in his country … for a fee.”

Authors: Neil Stuart Eccles, Busisiwe Magagula

Journal: African journal of Business Ethics

In 2014, Birtch et al published a paper that contained unnecessary negative cultural/racial stereotyping in a vignette presented in the paper’s introduction. Given the potentially harmful consequences of negative stereotyping, and the relatively frequent use of vignettes in the business ethics literature, this prompted us to wonder whether this was an isolated instance or a more widespread occurrence. To investigate this question we conducted a search of the scholarly literature for papers containing the string ‘vignette’ or ‘scenario’, and ‘business ethics’ using the EBSCOhost databases to which our institution subscribes. This search yielded a collection of 154 papers where vignettes were actually presented. Of these, approximately 18% contained negative cultural or racial stereotyping while 38% contained some form of negative gender stereotyping. In our view, these are uncomfortably high frequencies, so uncomfortably high in fact that they prompt us to conclude with a plea to authors, editors and reviewers within the business ethics academic literature to be on guard against this practice.