How entrepreneurs deal with ethical challenges – an application of the Business Ethics Synergy Star (BESS) technique

David A. Robinson, Queensland University of Technology
Per Davidson, Queensland University of Technology
Hennie van der Mescht, Rhodes University
Philip Court, Rhodes University

Document Type Journal Article

Pre-publication print This is the author's pre-publication print on an article published in the Journal of Business Ethic, Volume 71, Issue 4.
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Published version Copyright ©2007 SpringerLink


Entrepreneurs typically live with the ever-present threat of business failure arising from limited financial resources and aggressive competition in the marketplace. Under these circumstances, conflicting priorities arise and the entrepreneur is thus faced with certain dilemmas. In seeking to resolve these, entrepreneurs must often rely on their own judgment to determine ‘what is right’. There is thus a need for a technique to assist them decide on a course of action when no precedent or obvious solution exists.

This research paper examines how entrepreneurs experience and deal with these dilemmas. The research is based on interviews with seven entrepreneurs in established service-oriented ventures, which gave rise to twenty-six dilemmas.

These dilemmas were analyzed by making use of the Synergy Star technique, which is introduced here as a tool that is useful in defining any dilemma, isolating the ethical component, and resolving the dilemma in a way that is congruent with the entrepreneur’s personal world-view