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JBE SI on Racial Justice

  • 1.  JBE SI on Racial Justice

    Posted 11-07-2020 12:16

    On behalf of Paul T. Harper,










    Submission Deadline: October 1. 2021


    Guest Editors:


    Paul T. Harper, University of Pittsburgh, USA

    Robbin Derry, University of Lethbridge, Canada

    Gregory B. Fairchild, University of Virginia, USA



    In the spring of 2020, a social movement calling for racial justice spread across the U.S. and inspired symbolic actions around the world. A major impetus was the May 25 killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The persistent dangers for Black citizens and other people of color when interacting with the criminal justice system have been identified and challenged for decades. However, the systemic inequities and conditions, such as those found in healthcare (Brandolo et al., 2009), education (Solomona et al., 2005), and sports (Hylton, 2010) among other areas, contributing to the diffusion of the movement remain. The protests call attention to the often tacit recognition of systemic and institutionalized racism in organizations specifically and society broadly. Though racism is experienced by many groups in many different contexts, instances of anti-Black racism in the United States are often viewed as exemplary expressions of these deeper structural dynamics and, for that reason, warrants our focus on the North American and Caribbean historical context.


    These movements have prompted calls for substantive change in multiple ways at the level of individuals, organizations, and institutions -- these include calls for reparations, explicit hiring practices, analysis of representation, language, and symbols among many other considerations across society. Given the outsize influence of business institutions in neoliberal and capitalist societies, it is essential to question the role of business in promoting, sustaining, or reifying racism including considering the ways in which capitalism and slavery are intertwined (Baptist, 2016; Beckert & Rockman, 2016; Williams, 2014). Further, it will be important to determine how political, corporate, and educational leaders aid in the generation of meaningful solutions to the problem of anti-Black racism. This must include an interrogation of the dominant notions and theories of justice. 


    Business schools and scholars must consider responding to the Black Lives Matter movement given their status and influence on the research and teaching agendas that shape the moral development of leaders that command substantial resources. This special issue will serve as a means for helping business scholars and leaders to conceptualize how to design and justify racial justice interventions. 


    Areas of Interest:

    Our interests are interdisciplinary, arrive from diverse theoretical frameworks and perspectives, and welcome multiple methods. While we invite a broad range of approaches to these and other questions, our overall objectives for the special issue consist of the following:


    • Highlighting structural racism. We are interested in expanding the aperture to include research and scholarship that acknowledges that the impact of race can take place without implicit or explicit anti-Black racism. This raises important questions about how social systems, institutional frameworks, networks, have been formed to close off opportunities from Black women and men. Manifestations of this structural closure have shown themselves in the patterns of residential and social segregation, racial gaps in the intergenerational transfer of wealth, and admissions, hiring, and promotion policies and practices, among others.


    • Embracing history. We encourage an acknowledgment of the work of history. The racial exploitation of Black people are phenomena well documented in the historiography of North American and Caribbean colonial periods and forms the fundamental material for that community's moral grievances. The Black Lives Matter movement is one of many throughout the history of region that sought to bring visibility and inspire accountability for historic and contemporary forms of anti-Black racism. For example, accounting practices that established how to measure, value, and commodify enslaved people are still present in modern accounting.


    • Theorizing racial justice. Recent studies on justice include a variety of contractarian and capabilities-based approaches, as well as accounts that emphasize virtue and imagination. But, the absence of a complex and historical analysis of the ways the concept of race was created and utilized during modernity to produce an unjust state of affairs where the distribution and accumulation of goods and rights of ownership accrued almost exclusively to members of the white race raises serious theoretical questions. How do current theories obfuscate the position occupied by whites as benefactors of injustice in the current corporate and social state of affairs? Can a racial justice agenda be complete without a commitment to reparations? Can the moral imagination serve as a mechanism for overcoming racial difference and envisioning racial justice? How does a racial justice agenda differ from a diversity and inclusion agenda? By addressing these key questions, we believe that theory development in the field will advance on more inclusive grounds.


    • Intersectionality. We encourage the recognition that racism does not operate independently of other biases and discriminatory practices and structures. The experience of racism varies as forms of oppression interact; e.g. disabled people of color are harmed by a different range of systemic practices than those experienced by able bodied individuals. Solutions adopted under diversity and inclusion approaches to recruit more people of color as managers, workers, or students rarely address the disparate experiences of racism in organizational structures and practices. The writings of feminist intersectional scholars and critical race theorists have been largely overlooked in business ethics discussions of social justice (Collins & Bilge, 2016; Crenshaw, 1989; Moraga & Anzaldua, 2015). How might such scholarship inform business ethics and social responsibility literatures, moving them beyond race-blind or neutral considerations?


    • Promoting critical reflexivity. We have to interrogate our own values as a community of scholars. In what ways has the work of education and scholarship buttressed, even unintentionally, anti-black racism in the field's intellectual purview? How have our methods, research designs, research questions and conclusions shown racial biases? In what ways have our scholarly outlets been negligent in failing to address systemic racism? How do our references and citations signal which voices we value, prefer, and promote? The proliferation of these practices contributes to the silencing of racialized voices and perspectives.


    Paper Development Workshop

    A paper development workshop is being planned and workshop dates and submission instructions will be announced with sufficient advance notice. Submitting a paper to this paper development workshop is not a requirement for submitting or publishing a paper in this special issue. If you have any questions about the special issue, please contact the guest editors.


    Submission Instructions

    Authors are strongly encouraged to refer to the Journal of Business Ethics website and the instructions on submitting a paper (please format the paper in the JBE style).  For more details about the types of manuscripts that will be considered for publication see here 


    Submission to the Special Issue by October 1, 2021 is required through Editorial Manager here Upon submission, please indicate that your submission is to this Special Issue of JBE. Questions about expectations, requirements, the appropriateness of a topic, etc., should be directed to the guest editors of the Special Issue:


    Paul T. Harper,

    Robbin Derry

    Gregory B. Fairchild



    Baptist, E. E. (2016). The half has never been told: Slavery and the making of American capitalism. Hachette UK.

    Beckert, S., & Rockman, S. (Eds.). (2016). Slavery's capitalism: A new history of American economic development. University of Pennsylvania Press.

    Brondolo, E., Gallo, L. C., & Myers, H. F. (2009). Race, racism, and health: disparities, mechanisms, and interventions. Journal of Behavioral Medicine32(1), 1.

    Collins, P. H. & Bilge, S. 2016. Intersectionality. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

    Crenshaw, K. W. 1989. Demarginalizing the intersections of race and sex: A Black feminist critique of anti-discrimination doctrine, feminist theory, and anti-racist politics. The University of Chicago Legal Forum, 140: 139-67.

    Fleischman, R. K., & Tyson, T. N. (2004). Accounting in service to racism: monetizing slave property in the antebellum South. Critical Perspectives on Accounting15(3), 376-399.

    Hylton, K. (2010). How a turn to critical race theory can contribute to our understanding of 'race', racism, and anti-racism in sport. International Review for the Sociology of Sport45(3), 335-354.

    Kline, M. (1989). Race, racism, and feminist legal theory. Harv. Women's LJ12, 115.

    Moraga, C. & Anzaldua, G., Eds. 2015. This bridge called my back: writings by radical women of color. 4th Ed. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. 

    Rosenthal, C. (2019). Accounting for slavery: Masters and management. Harvard University Press.

    Solomona, R. P., Portelli, J. P., Daniel, B. J., & Campbell, A. (2005). The discourse of denial: How white teacher candidates construct race, racism and 'white privilege'. Race ethnicity and education8(2), 147-169.

    Williams, E. (1994[1944]). Capitalism and slavery. UNC Press Books.

    Vincenzo Vastola
    Montpellier Business School