Ethics in Entrepreneurial Finance: Exploring Problems in Venture Partner Entry and Exit

Journal of Business Ethics 140 (4):649-672 (2017)
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Abstract

This research advances our understanding of the manifestation of tensions and ethical issues in entrepreneurial finance. In doing so, we offer an overview of ethics in entrepreneurship and finance, delineating the curious paucity of research at their intersection. Using twelve vignettes, we put forward the asymmetries between entrepreneurs and investors and discuss a set of ethical problems that arise among key actors centring on the dynamics of venture partner entry and exit, applying the multiple-lens ethical perspective to analyse these issues. This analysis culminates in the introduction of a general classification scheme for ethical problems across venture partners. Our analysis highlights the moral dimension inherent in the entry and exit of venture partners and the importance of considering moral judgement, as well as intention in future analysis of any decision-making. Our study also points to the moral responsibility in finance, especially to the mutual moral responsibilities of investors and entrepreneurs. By integrating ethics into finance, this research also demonstrates that in the case of venture partner exit, an ethical approach and decent governance go beyond compliance to the law. We conclude with implications for practitioners, specifically with some proposals for a solution to the problem of blocked and forced exit. Together, we make several contributions to the literature by integrating ethics, finance and entrepreneurship, and we call for future research to stimulate a growing body of research within this presently overlooked area.

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