Enchantment in business ethics research

Emma Bell*, Nik Winchester, Edward Wray-Bliss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article draws attention to the importance of enchantment in business ethics research. Starting from a Weberian understanding of disenchantment, as a force that arises through modernity and scientific rationality, we show how rationalist business ethics research has become disenchanted as a consequence of the normalization of positivist, quantitative methods of inquiry. Such methods absent the relational and lively nature of business ethics research and detract from the ethical meaning that can be generated through research encounters. To address this issue, we draw on the work of political theorist and philosopher, Jane Bennett, using this to show how interpretive qualitative research creates possibilities for enchantment. We identify three opportunities for reenchanting business ethics research related to: (i) moments of novelty or disruption; (ii) deep, meaningful attachments to things studied; and (iii) possibilities for embodied, affective encounters. In conclusion, we suggest that business ethics research needs to recognize and reorient scholarship towards an appreciation of the ethical value of interpretive, qualitative research as a source of potential enchantment.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Early online date12 Aug 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Aug 2020


  • Enchantment
  • Interpretivism
  • Methodology
  • Qualitative research
  • Scientism

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