Empathy as an Antecedent of Social Justice Attitudes and Perceptions

Journal of Business Ethics 157 (3):605-615 (2019)


At the same time that social justice concerns are on the rise on college campuses, empathy levels among US college students are falling. Social injustice resulting from organizational decisions and actions causes profound and unnecessary human suffering, and research to understand antecedents to these decisions and actions lacks attention. Empathy represents a potential tool and critical skill for organizational decision-makers, with empirical evidence linking empathy to moral recognition of ethical situations and greater breadth of understanding of stakeholder impact and improved financial success. This study explores the potential relationship between empathy and social justice, using a multifaceted operationalization of social justice, which includes management actions and social sympathies. Results broadly support the positive empathy and social justice relationship and suggest higher education interventions to develop empathy in college business students.

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