Birkin, Frank and Polesie Thomas (2011). “An Epistemic Analysis of (Un)Sustainable Business”. Journal of business ethics , 103 (2), pp. 239-253
Michel Foucault famously analysed orders of knowledge, ‘epistemes’, in past European ages. In this study, his analytical method is fruitfully applied to gaining a better understanding of business sustainability within and beyond the Modern episteme. After an introduction to the contextual background for the study, this article provides (i) a justification for the use of a Foucauldian epistemic analytical method, (ii) an outline of the method, (iii) an application of the method to identify four sets of questions (morality, specialisation, anthropologization and mathematicization) that are both direct derivatives of the Modern episteme and problematic for sustainable development, and finally (iv) an application of the method to consider evidence for the emergence of a new episteme. Conclusions are also provided.