Dutch business ethics scrutinised in five-year research project

A large-scale research programme which aims to pool scientific knowledge about business ethics in the Netherlands got underway last week when twelve doctoral candidates specialising in researching business ethics held their first meeting. The team of PhD candidates, plus seven professors of business ethics from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and four other Dutch universities, will conduct innovative applied research into the future relevance of business ethics in the corporate sector over the next five years.

Research into business ethics has been carried out in the Netherlands for the past 25 years, and businesses have taken a more systematic approach to organising their ethics during this time, but some observers would say they have made little progress. A lack of ethics within the corporate sector is considered a cause of the recent economic crisis.

The seven professors hope to provide an insight into the value of ethics, how ethics could change with future developments, and the sustainable embedding of ethics within businesses.

New knowledge and insights from the researchers’ findings will be shared through regular meetings with corporate sector. The researchers also hope to develop new instruments for introducing ethics within businesses

The twelve researchers were selected from the corporate world, and will keep one foot in the world of business as they collaborate to research on a part-time basis.

“This is the only programme of its kind worldwide because of the participation of five universities as well as the scope of the group. With so much research capacity we can make a significant contribution to business ethics in the Netherlands and abroad,” said Prof. Muel Kaptein, one of the initiators and Professor of Business Ethics and Integrity Management at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM).

“Coming from the energy sector, I’ve been working in the field of ethics, safety and sustainability for communities and the environment for years. I think it’s a brilliant idea to now be able to provide a scientific foundation for this. This will enable us to increase the corporate sector’s attention to this important subject," said Arend van Campen, one of the doctoral students.

The professors engaged in the research project are Prof. Boudewijn. de Bruin from the University of Groningen, Prof. Wim Dubbink and Prof. Johan Graafland from Tilburg University, Prof. Harry Hummels of Maastricht University, Prof. Ronald Jeurissen and Dr Edgar Karsing of Nyenrode Business University, and Prof. Muel Kaptein from RSM.

RSM hosts a range of taught PhD and research master programmes; a Master of Philosophy in Business Research and a PhD in Management.  See

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is a top tier European business school and ranked among the top three for research. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. RSM also has offices in the Amsterdam Zuidas business district and in Taipei, Taiwan.

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