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The Ethics of Guerilla Behavior in Early Stage Firms

Yongseok Jang and Michael H. Morris

A chapter in The Challenges of Ethics and Entrepreneurship in the Global Environment, 2015, vol. 25, pp 57-78 from Emerald Publishing Ltd

Abstract: Abstract The need for entrepreneurs to engage in guerrilla behavior is heavily emphasized by entrepreneurship educators and practitioners. Yet such behavior often has serious ethical implications. The purpose of this study is to establish an assessment framework that provides ethical guidance to entrepreneurs engaged in guerrilla behaviors. A theoretical foundation for assessing the ethics of guerrilla behavior is established. The entrepreneurial context and how it gives rise to the need for guerrilla actions are examined. The guerilla concept is explored and criteria are outlined for labeling a given action or approach as being guerrilla in nature. Different forms or types of guerrilla approaches are introduced. Five primary ethical dimensions to be considered in evaluating a given guerrilla approach are identified. Examples are provided of how these dimensions can be applied to assess the ethics of three different successful guerrilla campaigns. An integrated matrix is introduced for use in evaluating guerrilla campaigns that consider our ethical dimensions together with leading theoretical perspectives on ethical action. Based on how a given guerrilla approach is scored when using the assessment matrix, conclusions are drawn for its appropriateness. By using a mix of the deontological, utilitarian and virtue-based frameworks, it becomes possible to determine the relative ethics of any given guerrilla action once implemented, and actions can be taken to either modify or abandon the action. Further, the concepts developed in this paper can be useful in ensuring new guerrilla actions are more ethical when they are first conceptualized or designed. Four design elements can be systematically applied to decisions that unfold as the guerrilla action is being formulated: resources and providers, disclosure, stakeholder effects, and inferences/conclusions. A number of suggestions for ongoing research are provided based on the work presented here.

Keywords: Ethics; guerrilla; deontology; utilitarian; virtue-based (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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