Ethical disagreements in technology and management research

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Telkamp, Jake
Major Professor
Anderson, Marc H
Chamberlin, Melissa
Schleicher, Deidra
Wo, Xuhui
Mao, Huifang
Committee Member
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In this dissertation, I explore two contexts where people disagree about moral issues that have not received as much attention as they deserve. I first examine ethical disagreements in the rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence (AI). Organizations are widely adopting AI, and in the advent of ChatGPT, AI has finally received widespread attention from the general public. Most people want AI to be ethical and used for ethical reasons, so scholars have proposed many ethical AI frameworks in the literature. In this theoretical paper, I critique these frameworks and suggest they do not usually consider that people disagree about morality. Thus, they cannot help us understand how and why people would disagree about some of the fundamental issues in AI ethics. Namely, our ability to understand, compromise, and communicate with those we disagree with about the problems surrounding AI. I draw from moral foundations theory to argue that a person will find an AI system (or its uses) ethical if it does not violate any of their valued moral foundations. In my second paper, I empirically examine ethical disagreements in the context of management research. The field of management research aims to contribute to management practice. Yet, many practitioners do not pay attention to the research, and many causes of this “research-practice gap” have been discussed, along with a wide-range of proposed solutions. I argue that one reason for this gap could be due to value and moral divergences between researchers and managers. At our current understanding, we do not know what values we hold as a group of researchers, nor do we know the values of modern-day managers. To establish the phenomenon, I sampled a group of management researchers and a group of managers and found several moral and value divergences. I find that managers, on average, placed more emphasis on the moral foundations of equality, loyalty, authority, and purity, and on the values of hedonism, power-dominance, security-societal, tradition, and humility. Management researchers, on the other hand, placed more emphasis on the values of achievement, self-direction (thought), self-direction (action), benevolence (dependability), universalism (concern), and universalism (tolerance). I found that managers were slightly less liberal on average than the management researchers, but only for social issues and not economic issues. Managers also placed a higher emphasis on both idealism and relativism than did researchers, and there was no difference between the groups for how religious they were. I discuss the implications of these findings and lay a path forward.