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Title: A comparative study of business ethics and entrepreneurship in the UK and China
Author: Lu, Tao
ISNI:       0000 0004 2679 3344
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2010
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By investigating in detail the processes of sense-making in relation to the business ethics by entrepreneurs, this thesis aims to contribute to our understanding of entrepreneurs‘ perceptions of, and approaches to, business ethical issues. The primary research supporting this thesis was executed in two different cultural contexts, namely Nottingham in the UK and Shenyang City in China. This comparative approach was employed to enhance the theoretical contribution by taking into account the influence of institutional environments when considering business and entrepreneurship. The study adheres to the social constructionist approach of Berger and Luckman (1967), and applies the sense-making theory of Weick (1979, 1995, 2001) and discourse analysis in developing an original conceptual framework. Grounded in the qualitative methodology, this study employs unstructured interview methods and also incorporated the elements of reflexivity and ethnographic features. The focus of analysis is on how entrepreneurs from different social-cultural contexts understand, interpret and respond to ethical issues that arise in their relationships with main stakeholders, namely employees, customers, suppliers and government. The analysis of the data provides empirical support for the neoinstitutional theory, which gives increasing attention to institutional change and the voluntaristic role of agency. As a result of in-depth analysis and evaluation of the gathered data, the most relevant ethical issues are identified in detail and important common themes are highlighted. The thesis demonstrates that the entrepreneurs‘ need for achievement, locus of control and self-efficacy have a significant influence on the process of making sense of ethical issues. Though Chinese entrepreneurs share many of the self-interested concerns of their British counter-parts, the ethical issues with which they are confronted arise in a much more complex institutional environment. As a result, Chinese entrepreneurs have a much wider range of materials and diversified templates to guide and enlighten their sense-making efforts. The range of cultural and legal institutional environments observed inform different patterns of actions and the templates associated with being an entrepreneur and highlight significant differences between Chinese and British entrepreneurs when dealing with the various commercial relationships. So, Chinese respondents gave more attention to power, status, and personal relationships, whereas British respondents emphasised the importance of the legal/contractual bases of relationships in guiding their behaviours. The level and scope of analysing marches in contributing to advance knowledge, but also of practical value to a number of interest groups, notably government, commercial actors, and employees, who as stakeholders are directly influenced by the ethical decisions of entrepreneurs. The findings could also inform government legislation and policy discussions aimed at promoting ethical entrepreneurship, as a broad account of the ethical dilemmas and issues faced by entrepreneurs in the UK and China on a routine basis is offered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available