From Regulation to Virtue: A Critique of Ethical Formalism in Research Organizations

TitleFrom Regulation to Virtue: A Critique of Ethical Formalism in Research Organizations
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsAtkinson, TN, Butler, JW
JournalJournal of Research Administration
Date Published2012
Publication Languageeng
ISBN Number15391590
Keywordsethical , ethics , Formal , Institutional , Law , Mentoring , Moral , positive , research , SOCIAL , VIRTUE
AbstractThe following article argues that the research compliance system has some flaws that should be addressed, particularly with regard to excessive emphasis of and reliance upon formal regulations in research administration. Ethical formalism, understood here as the use of formal rules for the determination of behavior, is not an optimal perspective alone for the promotion of ethical research. The strict adherence to rules and regulations in research administration was formed by forces outside of the organizations' control and adopted by the professional organizations as final, thereby failing to generate the adaptive normative guidance needed to promote a flourishing, dynamic research environment. The analysis continues by offering some solutions for how the laws can be augmented through positive organizational practices and virtuous action (Cameron, Dutton & Quinn, 2003), and finally by finding people in organizations who stand as moral exemplars (Zagzebski, 2010) or leader-mentors (Cheatham, 2010; Gabriel, 2010) who bridge the gap between researchers, organizational leaders, and the regulations. 
NotesAtkinson, Timothy N. 1; Email Address:; Butler, Jesse W. 2; Email Address:; Affiliations: 1: Assistant Provost and Director of Sponsored Programs Assistant Professor, Leadership Studies University of Central Arkansas Conway, AR, 72035, U.S.A; 2: Assistant Professor of Philosophy Department of Philosophy and Religion University of Central Arkansas Conway, AR, 72035, U.S.A; Issue Info: 2012, Vol. 43 Issue 1, p17; Thesaurus Term: RESEARCH; Thesaurus Term: RESEARCH institutes; Subject Term: MORAL & ethical aspects; Subject Term: LAW & legislation; Subject Term: FORMAL sociology; Subject Term: RESEARCH management; Author-Supplied Keyword: Ethical Formalism; Author-Supplied Keyword: Ethics; Author-Supplied Keyword: Institutional Isomorphism; Author-Supplied Keyword: Mentoring; Author-Supplied Keyword: Moral Development; Author-Supplied Keyword: Moral Exemplars; Author-Supplied Keyword: Moral Psychology; Author-Supplied Keyword: Positive Organizational Scholarship; Author-Supplied Keyword: Social Cognition; Author-Supplied Keyword: Virtue; NAICS/Industry Codes: 541711 Research and Development in Biotechnology; NAICS/Industry Codes: 541712 Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology); NAICS/Industry Codes: 541720 Research and Development in the Social Sciences and Humanities; Number of Pages: 16p; Document Type: Article