Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Navigating the ethical maze through design action research

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Susan Kirk



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Emerald Group Publishing Ltd, 2014.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© Emerald Group Publishing Limited.Purpose – The purpose of this study is to identify how ethical stances can be used to develop a frame set in the design of a web-based decision support system (DSS) for ethical decision-making and to test both the efficacy of these frames and the potential of such a tool for individuals and groups in both leadership development situations and organisational practice. Unethical behaviour by executives is a frequently cited reason for erosion of trust with other stakeholders. Design/methodology/approach – Utilising action research, by choosing ethics frames such as heuristics, a web-based ethics DSS designed to enable users to explore ethical issues from multiple perspectives was constructed and this was beta-tested with a major UK bank and a global oil company. Findings – In orchestrating constant revisions of the ethics frames in the tool, learning from each research cycle was identified, a new form of action research, a design action research, which emphasises the importance of collaboration in the design of such decision-making tools, was offered and the tool for management development and other applications was successfully beta-tested. Originality/value – It was demonstrated to management developers how web-based systems might be designed by non-information technology professionals; the framing literature was added by demonstrating the value of engaging in dialogue about ethical issues of concern to managers and their organisations and thus improving decision-making; and additions were made to the literature on ethics and Information systems (IS) and contribution toward action research in the fields of IS and ethics was done.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tansley C, Kirk S, Fisher C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Training and Development

Year: 2014

Volume: 38

Issue: 5

Pages: 456-482

Online publication date: 27/07/2014

Acceptance date: 16/12/2013

Date deposited: 31/01/2019

ISSN (print): 2046-9012

ISSN (electronic): 2046-9020

Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd


DOI: 10.1108/EJTD-08-2013-0087


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Find at Newcastle University icon    Link to this publication