In the world of Organization research, some words are used by scholarswith a specific political purpose: two of these are ethics and emancipation. The second is used to recall the social purpose ofthe academic community, which can be donefromseveral perspectives (for example, that of Critical Management Studies). Regarding ethics, organization researchers often use this word to denounce managerial practices.Their researchcommonly reports the ideological orientation of such management practices as imply unethical behaviour. In this sense, the unethical orientation of managers has been seen as something masked by a manipulative discourse, which has built the false impression that management practices are ethically oriented.But the organization researchers say almost nothing about their own demagogicethical discourse, even though their silence has led to the criticism of academics for “lack of ethics.” This paper deals with the problem of ethics as it relates to the research practicesof organization studiesitself, showing some aspects of the ways in which ethics is handled by researchers in their fieldwork. To this end, it adopts Habermas’ view of discursive ethics, in particular, his conception of strategic action. In this sense, strategic action ignores ethical claims, because it is oriented to performative and utilitarian interests. Thus, when a speaker performs a strategic action, s/he distorts communicative interaction by omitting or manipulating information (distorting truthfulness), being insincere about her/his actual intentions and/or claiming feelings which s/he lacks (distorting sincerity), adopting illegitimate or subverting legitimate moral claims (distortion of legitimacy) and/or being confused or ambiguous about what s/he is saying (distorting comprehensibility). My argument is presented in the form of three different research examples, which reveal how strategic action emerges in critical research enterprises and how ethical claims are disregarded.In the end, I explore my own research experience, telling a confessional story, which illustrates strategic action in the critical organizational research field. The exemplary cases show that, in addition to the absence of ethical consciousness, researchers are pressurized to supply opportunistic reports of research findings and ‘discoveries,’in order to merit further qualifications. To be successful, researchers are prepared to be opportunistic and hence unethical.


Organization Studies, Ethics, Fieldwork, Habermas, Strategic Action.

Author Bio(s)

Fabio Vizeu is associate professor in the Master and Doctoral program of Management at Universidade Positivo, Curitiba, Brazil. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: email Fabio.vizeu@gmail.com; Phone: +55 41 33173275; Address: Fabio Vizeu at Rua Prof Pedro Viriato Parigot de Souza, 5300, Curitiba, Brazil. Zip Code 81280-330

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