On The Dark Side of Codes: Domination Not Enlightenment

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Journal Article
Scandinavian Journal of Management, 2011, March, 27 (1), pp. 24 - 33
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In this paper, we show how a middle manager interprets the action of two employees as problematic and how he solves it by using the company's code of ethics as the basis for firing them. Our telling of the story unmasks a darker side of codes and we conceptualize it in terms of power and domination. The paper contributes to the literature on corporate codes of ethics (CCEs) and corporate ethics programs by showing that such codes need not necessarily play an enabling role in organizations. Rather than being instruments of enlightenment and self-regulation, they may be used as instruments to further domination.
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