22nd International Symposium on Ethics, Business and Society

Barcelona · June 19-20, 2023

The Role of Ethics in Turbulent Times:
Rationality and Virtues in Decision-Making

Call for Papers

The world is in a bit of turmoil. After being paralyzed by the pandemic, the world has entered a vertiginous spin zone where everything seems to be shaky: armed conflicts in Europe, a runaway economy, problems in the supply of raw materials, social tensions, and the radicalization of political positions are some of the phenomena that agitate the waters of this sea in which we sail. And all this is in addition to the more structural problems we have been working on for years, summarized in the sustainable development goals that we aim to achieve by 2030.

Business activity can be influenced by this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world. The company is essential in shaping society and cannot remain on the sidelines of all these circumstances. In some cases, businesses will have been partly responsible for the emergence of these phenomena; but they must undoubtedly be part of the solution. Businesses must be proactive in their decision-making to succeed in this VUCA world.

Some managers will opt for opportunistic decisions, looking at the short term, surfing through difficulties. Others will adopt a more strategic stance with a longer-term vision, seeking a haven from the bad weather.

In the 22nd International Symposium on Ethics, Business and Society, we would like to question how ethics helps to make better decisions in a complex, changing, and complicated world such as the one especially faced by companies in these times.

On the one hand, economic rationality is insufficient to explain decision-making processes and to answer “the reasons of the heart” that move people to act as consumers, employees and citizens. Decision-making must consider the complexity of the human being – which is not only economic rationality, not to mention the issues that are opening up with the development of artificial intelligence. What may other aspects of rationality be relevant? What moral competencies must managers develop to make sound decisions and meet today’s challenges?

Moreover, businesses must be designed to cope with the multiple demands of a complex environment. They must develop organizational capabilities and virtuousness that make them agile, resilient, collaborative, and innovative, along with responsible and virtue-based leadership. Establishing a robust ethical culture with a corporate purpose that goes beyond the generation of financial profit, and business models that look at the social and environmental impact of business activity are other points of reference to serve as a compass for companies to navigate their way through these turbulent times.

We should include in our reflections the need to think about the business education that current and future business leaders receive and how we introduce ethical aspects into the teaching of decision-making.


The 22nd IESE International Symposium on Ethics, Business, and Society focuses on the role of ethics in managing business in these turbulent times, paying particular attention to how practical wisdom and moral virtues mediate decision-making. Although any conceptual or empirical paper related to the general theme of the Symposium is welcome, we suggest the following tracks:

  • list_element_img Full rationality in decision-making
  • list_element_img Rational and non-rational factors in decision-making
  • list_element_img Practical wisdom and moral virtues in decision-making
  • list_element_img Cognitive and motivational biases in ethical decision-making
  • list_element_img Philosophical anthropology on decision-making
  • list_element_img Religious and theological foundations for ethical decision-making
  • list_element_img Teaching ethical decision-making
  • list_element_img The role of responsible leadership in a VUCA world
  • list_element_img Ethical issues in crisis management
  • list_element_img Ethics and corporate reputation
  • list_element_img Organizational values in turbulent times
  • list_element_img Organizational agility and resilience
  • list_element_img Business purpose: a compass for decision-making

Important Deadlines for Papers

March 6, 2023. Paper proposal of about 1000 words, including objectives, methodology, possible findings, and relevant references. (Response to the authors before April 12).

May 22, 2023. Full papers. The suggested paper length is about 7000 words, with an abstract of about 250 words. (Authors interested in submitting their paper for further publication should make their interest explicit on the cover page).

June 30, 2023. Response to authors of accepted papers for a review process for publication in a special issue in the Humanistic Management Journal.

Instructions for Submission

Further Inquiries

Logistical questions about this conference can be addressed to Esther Ribes (eribes@iese.edu), and academic questions to Professor Joan Fontrodona (jfontrodona@iese.edu).