Philosophy Faculty Publications and Presentations

Moral decision-making among professionals in the pharmaceutical industry: a ‘communities of practice’ model

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Ethical decision-making in a major USA pharmaceutical company was studied. One prevailing model for investigating professional ethics has been to assume that the professional domain itself is morally neutral, and that individuals simply deploy their own personal, privately held values within their professions. Our research, however, indicates that the professional context – which we describe by means of the current concept ‘communities of practice’ – plays a significant role in guiding how these researchers and project managers express their beliefs about what is appropriate behavior in their own profession. We further discovered that it is quite possible to overlook the influence of a community of practice in shaping a moral perspective, owing to differences in the way testing instruments frame the questions. We conclude that in organizations involving an identifiable community of professionals, Quality Assurance programs may face unnecessary obstacles if they neglect attention to the community's culture.


Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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The Quality Assurance Journal