Faculty & Research

Dawn Elm

Professor and Department Chair : Ethics and Business Law Department

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Dawn Elm received her Ph.D. in strategic management and organization from the University of Minnesota in 1989. She has been a faculty member at the University of St. Thomas for 22 years, teaching and consulting in the areas of business ethics, strategy, leadership and corporate governance. She is currently chair of the Department of Ethics and Business Law at the Opus College of Business.

Before coming to the University of St. Thomas, Elm worked in product development with the Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, after receiving her B.S. in chemical engineering, summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is widely published in the field of business ethics and was the recipient of the University of St. Thomas Excellence in Business Ethics award in 2002. Her current work involves improving ethical decision-making in business, the impact of social media on privacy valuation and the integration of aesthetics and business ethics. She currently serves as the executive director of the Society for Business Ethics, a global association.

Elm has experience in strategy consulting, ethical decision-making training, product and process development, and corporate governance. She has served as an independent director in the banking and construction industries on public, private and family business boards. She has also served on non-profit boards in the Twin Cities area.


Academic Background

B.S., chemical engineering, University of Massachusetts
Ph.D., strategic management and organization, University of Minnesota

Research Specialties

  • Business ethics
  • Corporate governance
  • Ethical decision-making
  • Meaningful work
  • Spirituality in the workplace

Current Research

  • Grounded theory development of ethical decision-making in organizations
  • Honesty among entrepreneurs
  • Ethical culture and financial performance

Major Works

  • Editors, Elm, D. R. and D. Koehn, "The Artist and the Ethicist:  Character and Process," Aesthetics and Business Ethics, Vol. 41. London: Springer, 2013.
  • "Aesthetics and Ethics"; "Obedience to the law and authority", Enclyclopedia of Management, Business Ethics Volume, 3rd Edition, Wiley, forthcoming.
  • Elm, Dawn R. and Tara J. Radin, "Ethical Decision-making: Special or No Different?" Journal of Business Ethics (2012).
  • Elm, Dawn R. and Steve S. Taylor, "Representing Wholeness: Learning via Theatrical Productions," Journal of Management Inquiry 19:2 (2010): 127-136.
  • Hartman, L.P., D. R. Elm, T. J. Radin and K. Richmond-Pope, "Translating corporate culture around the world: A cross-cultural analysis of whistleblowing as an example of how to say and do the right thing," Politeia, Anno XXV:93 (2009): 328-342.
  • "Truth-telling," Blackwell Encyclopedia of Business Ethics, Sage (2008).
  • Elm, D. and P.C. Kelley, "The Effect of Context on Moral Intensity of Ethical Issues: Revising Jones' Issue- Contingent Model," Journal of Business Ethics 00 (2003): 1-16.
  • "Honesty, Spirituality, and Performance at Work." In Workplace, Spirituality and Organizational Performance, edited by R. Biacalone, C. Jurkiewicz and M.E.Sharp. 2003.
  • Elm, D., E. J. Kennedy and L. Lawton, "Determinants of Moral Reasoning: Sex Role Orientation, Gender and Academic Factors," Business and Society 40:3 (2001): 241-265.
  • Elm, D. and J.D. Teplensky, "The Three Faces of Honesty: A Confirmatory Factor Analysis," Research in Corporate Social Performance and Policy 15 (1998): 107-124.
  • "Empirical Research in Business Ethics: Ethical Decision-Making at the Individual Level of Analysis." International Association for Business and Society conference Proceedings, Rice University, Houston, Texas, 2000.