A Social Exchange Perspective on Business Ethics: An Application to Knowledge Exchange

Journal of Business Ethics 62 (1):1-11 (2005)
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Abstract

An extensive body of literature in sociology and anthropology has shown that different societies have developed different structures for exchange of items such as goods, status and information. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how social exchange theory can help illuminate many of the underlying bases of different ethical perspectives in debates about social exchanges. Social exchange theory is applied to three common types of knowledge exchange – R&D joint ventures, commercial intellectual property exchange and academic exchange. Two key factors that underlie different ethical perspectives are shown to be differences in structures for social exchange and differences in views of the alienability of knowledge from its originator.

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