Ethics and HRD Practice in the Context of Business and Society: Libertarian and Liberal Perspectives

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The practice of human resource development plays out at the intersection of an array of stakeholders whose interests and goals sometimes overlap but often diverge. Practical questions about what actions to take are at the core of daily work in our field and call for the ability to discern values to be enacted and valuable ends to be pursued. The field of ethics addresses such normative questions about rights and wrongs and responsibilities and duties at individual, group, organizational, and societal levels of analysis. Understanding different approaches to ethics, their fundamental principles, and implications for practice is essential for professional practice in all organizational domains, and especially in HRD, a field that is centrally focused on learning, development, and flourishing in the context of work and working. This chapter is divided into two sections: The first outlines the key concepts of values, norms, and morals as well as the distinctions among pure, applied, and behavioral ethics as they relate to work organization in the North American context. The second addresses the dominant theoretical perspectives on ethics and their relevance for HRD practice based on libertarian and liberal philosophical traditions. The conclusion summarizes the key features of the two perspectives and discusses how they occur in HRD practice, alone and in combination. The chapter closes with a reflection on the value-laden nature of HRD practice in the context of the push and pull of interests and understandings of rights and wrongs in the emerging, open-ended arena of work and work organizations.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEthics and Human Resource Development
Subtitle of host publicationSocietal and Organizational Contexts
EditorsDarlene F. Russ-Eft, Amin Alizadeh
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783031387272
ISBN (Print)9783031387265, 9783031387296
StatePublished - Mar 2024


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