Received: 29th September 2023; Revised: 30th November 2023, 08th December 2023; Accepted: 10th December 2023


  • Professor Doctor Călin Gurău Montpellier Business School, Marketing Department, Montpellier, France


Small Enterprises, Ethical Behaviour, Contingency Factors, Focus Groups


The ethical behavior of small enterprises is less understood than those of large companies, because of their diversity, size, entrepreneurial management, as well as the methodological problems related to data collection and analyses. The importance of this research is paramount because the measures and sanctions adopted and applied to eliminate unethical behaviors have to be tailored for various types of firms, working in different socio-economic contexts. Our main research objective is thus to identify the main contingency factors that shape the unethical behavior of small business organizations. We organized a series of online focus groups with customers and entrepreneurs from three different European countries – France, Italy and the UK - in the first six months of 2023. Findings indicate three contingency factors that mainly shape the unethical behavior of small organizations: the time horizon of organizations’ existence, their embeddedness in value added chains and/or networks, and their type of customers. Considering these contingency factors, our study discusses their influence on the ethical behavior of small enterprises and their theoretical and managerial implications.


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