A Social exchange perspective on business ethics

an application to knowledge exchange

Stephen Chen, Chong Ju Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)


An extensive body of literature in sociology and anthropology has shown that different societies have developed different structures for exchange of items such as goods, status and information. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how social exchange theory can help illuminate many of the underlying bases of different ethical perspectives in debates about social exchanges. Social exchange theory is applied to three common types of knowledge exchange – R&D joint ventures, commercial intellectual property exchange and academic exchange. Two key factors that underlie different ethical perspectives are shown to be differences in structures for social exchange and differences in views of the alienability of knowledge from its originator.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of business ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • ethics
  • inalienability
  • gifts
  • knowledge
  • social exchange

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