University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor Bidhan “Bobby” Parmar has been selected as the winner of the Society for Business Ethics Best Dissertation Award 2011. His dissertation is entitled, “The Role of Ethics, Sensemaking and Discourse in Enacting Authority Relationships.”
According to the Society’s website, the purpose of the award is to recognize the dissertation that most clearly demonstrates the potential to contribute to substantial advances in business ethics research and practice.
Parmar’s dissertation, unlike traditional work in business ethics, examines ambiguity, language and social relationships as critical aspects of moral decision-making in organizations. His work demonstrates how an individual’s organizational role can shape his or her perception of and subsequent handling of ethical issues. Because organizations have a division of labor to produce goods and services, it can be very difficult to place responsibility for ethics failures. One key practical implication is to improve the kind of ethics training that managers and leaders receive. Instead of relying only on improving individual decision frameworks, Parmar’s work suggests that companies need to treat ethics failures like other system failures and create mechanisms to prevent those failures – by making clear how internal and external stakeholders will attribute responsibility for ethics failures.
Parmar will receive a plaque and a cash prize at the Society’s awards luncheon on 13 August in San Antonio, Texas, during the organization’s annual meeting.
Parmar is an Assistant Professor in Business Administration, having recently finished his MBA/PhD at Darden. His research interests focus on how managers make decisions and collaborate in uncertain and ambiguous environments to create value for stakeholders. His recent research examines the impact of authority on moral decision making in organizations. Parmar’s work has been published in Organization Science and the Journal of Business Ethics.
He teaches courses in Darden’s MBA programs, including First Year “Ethics,” “Leading Organizations” and a second year elective called “Collaboration.” Parmar is a fellow of the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics, an organization housed at Darden, which brings together leaders from business and academia to fulfill its mission of embedding ethics into the everyday business decision-making and practice of organizations. He is also a fellow of Darden’s ethics research center, the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics at Darden. Prior to teaching at Darden, Parmar taught at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce.