Dear Colleagues,

Per requests to extend the deadline due to the pandemic, the special issue's submission deadline has been extended to July 1, 2020.

Journal of Business Ethics

Call for papers


Co-evolution of Strategy, Innovation and Ethics: The China Story and Beyond


Submission deadline extended to: July 1, 2020


Guest Editors:

Dr. Justin Tan, [log in to unmask]

Newmont Chair in Business Strategy and Professor of Management,

Schulich School of Business, York University, Canada

Dr. Liang Wang[log in to unmask]

Associate Professor of entrepreneurship and strategy,

School of Management, University of San Francisco, USA



Journal of Business Ethics is pleased to invite submissions to a special issue on Co-evolution of Strategy, Innovation and Ethics: The China Story and Beyond.


As an emerging economy, China has made astonishing achievements in innovation and technology in a wide variety of areas, including mobile commerce, high-speed railway, innovative solution to environmental problems (e.g., the restoration of Kubuqi desert), etc. Shenzhen, a former fishing village, is emerging as "the global hub of innovation in hardware and manufacturing" (The Economist special report, 2017). Evidences like these indicate China's progress in turning itself into an "innovation society" (Lewin et al., 2016; Yip and McKern, 2016). What accompanies these achievements are the growing awareness of, and calls for, a higher corporate social responsibility (CSR) standard in China, because this emerging economy is still facing wide-spreading ethical, social and environmental challenges, including but not limited to air pollution, poor labor standard, corporate scandals, weak intellectual property protection, regulatory loopholes, privacy infringement, etc. Unlike the advanced economies, China has witnessed rapid advancements in technology and innovation in a unique and changing institutional environment. As The Economist recently posited, "ethical governance has long been the Achilles' heel of China's scientific endeavor" (2018).


How should academic researchers, business practitioners, and policy makers account for such paradoxical phenomenon? We posit that theoretical explanations could benefit from a co-evolutionary perspective (Tan, 2009; Tan and Litschert, 1994; Tan and Tan, 2005; Tan and Wang, 2011), which emphasizes the temporal co-evolution and co-alignment between a changing environment, transitional institutions, strategic adaptations, and the performance implications (financial, social and environmental). From this perspective, the practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) (Jamali and Mirshak, 2007; Garriga and Melé, 2004; Snider et al., 2003; Aguinis and Glavas, 2012; Tan and Wang, 2011) evolves over time, and at each point of time strategic choices of firms are shaped by, and will reshape, the changing environment (Tan and Tan, 2005).


For example, domestic firms in China like DJI more recently started calling for stronger intellectual property protection in China as their intellectual property outputs rapidly grow (Peng et al., 2017), potentially leading to a stronger intellectual property protection system in the future. Similarly, Alibaba as a technology giant in China is also leading social innovation (Mirvis et al., 2016; Osburg, 2013; Jenkins, 2009; Prahalad, 2006) by using its technology and platform to help poor people in remote area become entrepreneurs and sell products to the global market (Mirvis et al., 2016; Osburg, 2013; Jenkins, 2009; Prahalad, 2006). On the other hand, the country also witnesses social and environment problems created by technological innovation. For example, the bike-sharing business initially was a solution to environmental problems of urban congestion, yet it turned into both an environmental problem as hundreds and thousands of bicycles ended in bicycle graveyard, and a social problem as millions of users find it hard to get their deposit money back. Examples like these show that co-evolution as a powerful theoretical perspective will help us explain and predict the interplay and alignment between strategy, business ethics, technology innovation, and institutions in transitional China. China offers a laboratory setting to test existing theories and to build new ones.


Inspired by a deep curiosity about these profound development, this special issue aims at exploring the theories and practices of the co-evolution and co-alignment between strategy, business ethics, technology innovation, and institutions over time in China from a co-evolutionary perspective. The unique co-evolutionary pathways of China, in comparison to the other economies, will have profound implication to the business ethics literature. Topics of Special Interest include but are not limited to:



The topics listed are meant to be illustrative; submissions on any topic that relates to the theme of the interplay between technology, innovation and business ethics in China are encouraged. Submissions should be prepared in accordance with Journal of Business Ethics style guide and submitted to between April 1 and July 1, 2020.


Be sure to indicate that it is for the special issue, "Co-evolution of Strategy, Innovation and Ethics: The China Story and Beyond". Selected authors of submissions will be invited to attend a Journal of Business Ethics special issue workshop in China in late 2020. At this conference, authors will receive developmental feedback from the editorial team and invited discussants. Detail about the conference will be announced later with sufficient advance notice. Participation in the workshop is not a necessary condition for paper submission and editorial decision. Similarly, invitation to the workshop does not guarantee acceptance.


Please note that as a journal policy, an article submitted to this Special Issue is considered a submission to Journal of Business Ethics and therefore cannot be resubmitted to a regular issue of the journal.


Aguinis H and Glavas A. (2012) What we know and don’t know about corporate social responsibility: A review and research agenda. Journal of Management 38: 932-968.
Chang C-H. (2011) The influence of corporate environmental ethics on competitive advantage: The mediation role of green innovation. Journal of Business Ethics 104: 361-370.
Donaldson T. (2001) Ethics in Cyberspace: Have we seen this movie before? Business and Society Review 106: 273-291.
Drake B, Yuthas K and Dillard JF. (2000) It's Only Words - Impacts of Information Technology on Moral Dialogue. Journal of Business Ethics 23: 41-59.
Garriga E and Melé D. (2004) Corporate social responsibility theories: Mapping the territory. Journal of Business ethics 53: 51-71.
Ip PK. (2009) Is Confucianism good for business ethics in China? Journal of Business Ethics 88: 463-476.
Jamali D and Mirshak R. (2007) Corporate social responsibility (CSR): Theory and practice in a developing country context. Journal of Business ethics 72: 243-262.
Jenkins H. (2009) A ‘business opportunity’model of corporate social responsibility for small- and medium-sized enterprises. Business ethics: A European review 18: 21-36.
Kracher B and Corritore CL. (2004) Is there a special e-commerce ethics? Business Ethics Quarterly 14: 71-94.
Lewin AY, Kenney M and Murmann JP. (2016) China's innovation challenge: Overcoming the middle-income trap: Cambridge University Press.
Liou S, Kwan LY-Y and Chiu C-Y. (2016) Historical and cultural obstacles to frame-breaking innovations in China. Management & Organization Review 12: 35.
López MV, Garcia A and Rodriguez L. (2007) Sustainable development and corporate performance: A study based on the Dow Jones sustainability index. Journal of Business Ethics 75: 285-300.
Marshall KP. (1999) Has technology introduced new ethical problems? Journal of Business Ethics 19: 81-90.
Martin KE. (2008) Internet technologies in China: Insights on the morally important influence of managers. Journal of Business Ethics 83: 489-501.
Martin KE and Freeman RE. (2004) The separation of technology and ethics in business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics 53: 353-364.
Miles MP, Munilla LS and Covin JG. (2004) Innovation, ethics, and entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Ethics 54: 97-101.
Mirvis P, Herrera MEB, Googins B, et al. (2016) Corporate social innovation: How firms learn to innovate for the greater good. Journal of Business Research 69: 5014-5021.
Norman W and MacDonald C. (2004) Getting to the bottom of “triple bottom line”. Business Ethics Quarterly 14: 243-262.
Osburg T. (2013) Social innovation to drive corporate sustainability. Social Innovation. Springer, 13-22.
Payne DM and Raiborn CA. (2001) Sustainable development: the ethics support the economics. Journal of Business Ethics 32: 157-168.
Peng MW, Ahlstrom D, Carraher SM, et al. (2017) An institution-based view of global IPR History. Journal of international business studies 48: 893-907.
Poesche J. (1998) Business ethics in the choice of new technology in the kraft pulping industry. Journal of Business Ethics 17: 174-489.
Prahalad CK. (2006) The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Pearson Education India.
Snider J, Hill RP and Martin D. (2003) Corporate social responsibility in the 21st century: A view from the world's most successful firms. Journal of Business Ethics 48: 175-187.
Stieb J. (2001) Social Responsibility Within and Without Self‐Interest: Emergent Technologies and Situations. Business and Society Review 106: 241-253.
Su C and Littlefield JE. (2001) Entering guanxi: A business ethical dilemma in mainland China? Journal of Business Ethics 33: 199-210.
Tan J. (2009) Institutional structure and firm social performance in transitional economies: Evidence of multinational corporations in China. Journal of Business Ethics 86: 171.
Tan J and Litschert RJ. (1994) Environment‐strategy relationship and its performance implications: an empirical study of the Chinese electronics industry. Strategic Management Journal 15: 1-20.
Tan J and Tan D. (2005) Environment–strategy co–evolution and co–alignment: a staged model of Chinese SOEs under transition. Strategic Management Journal 26: 141-157.
Tan J and Wang L. (2011) MNC Strategic Responses to Ethical Pressure: An Institutional Logic Perspective. Journal of Business Ethics 98: 373-390.
Whitcomb LL, Erdener CB and Li C. (1998) Business ethical values in China and the US. Journal of Business Ethics 17: 839-852.
Yip GS and McKern B. (2016) China's Next Strategic Advantage: From Imitation to Innovation: MIT Press.


Dr. Liang Wang 王亮

Associate Professor of strategy
Department of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Strategy and International Business
Associate Director, China Business Studies Initiative 
School of Management
University of San Francisco
Co-editor, Journal of Business Ethics Special issue "Co-evolution of Strategy, Innovation and Ethics: The China Story and Beyond" 
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