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10-04-2020 | Original Paper | Issue 3/2021

Journal of Business Ethics 3/2021

The Unethical Enterprise of the Past: Lessons from the Collapse of Archaeological Heritage Management in Spain

Journal:
Journal of Business Ethics > Issue 3/2021
Authors:
Eva Parga Dans, Pablo Alonso González
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Abstract

This paper explores the underlying factors behind the collapse of commercial archaeology in Spain, with implications for other international contexts. It contributes to the current global debate about heritage ethics, adding nuance and conceptual depth to critical management studies and cultural heritage management in their approach to business ethics. Similar to other European contexts, Spanish archaeological management thrived during the 1990s and 2000s as a business model based on policies directed at safeguarding cultural heritage. The model had controversial ethical implications at academic, policy and business levels. However, the global financial crisis of 2008 had a huge impact on this sector, and more than 70% of the Spanish archaeological companies closed by 2017. Drawing on the concepts of abstract narratives, functional stupidity and corporatist neoliberalism, this paper illustrates the need to examine ethical issues from a pragmatic standpoint, beyond epistemological and moralistic critiques of profit-oriented businesses in the cultural realm. In doing so, it connects the fields of cultural heritage and management studies, opening up hitherto unexplored strands of research and debate.

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