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Guest Editors’ Introduction: Human Dignity and Business

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Abstract

After a brief historical introduction, three interpretations of dignity in relation to management theory and business ethics are elaborated: Dignity as a general category, Human Dignity as Inherent and Universal, and Human Dignity as Earned and Contingent. Next, two literature reviews are presented under the headings of “Dignity and Business Research” and “Dignity and Business Ethics Research.” The latter discussion identifies three subcategories of business ethics research involving human dignity: the role of dignity as a cornerstone for paradigmatic shifts, the role of dignity as the ‘ultima ratio’ for the protection of human rights, and the role of dignity in organizing business practices. The article concludes with summaries of the three articles chosen for this special section.

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... One of the intriguing ethical paradoxes of business is how respect for humanness, i.e., the consideration of employees as whole human beings, coexists with organizational needs to use people as a means towards profit-producing ends (Arnold & Bowie, 2003;Bowie, 1998;Kennedy, Kim, & Strudler, 2016;Margolis, 2001;Phillips & Margolis, 1999;Pirson, Goodpaster, & Dierksmeier, 2016). The conflicting ways people are viewed as organizational actors are highlighted in the different theoretical disciplines examining organizational life, which adopt different perspectives and underlying assumptions. ...
... Two competing types of economic sense can be identified: one that focuses on creating a good society and one that focuses on creating business profits (Sen, 1999). Theories of firm and management studies have traditionally focused on the latter, adopting the view of homo economicus (Ghoshal, 2005;Pirson, 2017Pirson, , 2019Pirson et al, 2016) as an underlying assumption of human nature. ...
... Extant studies have mostly regarded humanness as a property of person and organizations as a fundamental problem for humanness due to the instrumental perception of employees (Arnold & Bowie, 2003;Bowie, 1998;Kennedy et al., 2016;Margolis, 2001;Phillips & Margolis, 1999;Pirson et al., 2016;Sayer, 2007), consequently focusing on different types of maltreatment or resistance against indignities (Caesens, Nguyen, & Stinglhamber, 2018;Lucas, 2015;Väyrynen & Laari-Salmela, 2018). Literature is currently missing a view on humanness in organizations that would enable examining both views of human beings as co-existing and thus provide conceptual means to understand the way employees in "humanistic" organizations cope with these contradictory needs in their everyday activities. ...
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In this study, we theorize humanness in organizations as a property of practice. We apply practice theory to examine how humanness becomes enacted in a business organization as people prioritize organizational and individual ends in their work activities. Our empirical case study examines the everyday interactions of development team members in an R&D organization of a large Nordic cooperative. Challenging the dominant individualist and structuralist approaches in humanness and human dignity studies, we identify and locate four different aspects of humanness in organizational practices. As a result, we show how the emergence of humanness is an ongoing process that transpires through two mechanisms: site shifting and reconciliation; that is, people shift between different sites of the social, consisting of different sets of practices with underlying disparate assumptions of humanness, which requires reconciliation. These findings provide a basis for an alternative theorizing of humanness in organizations.
... Kateb (2011) argues that the concept of dignity arises from the universal vulnerabilities human beings experience throughout life. Scholars have identified three interpretations of dignity across time (Hodson, 2001;Meyer & Parent, 1992;Pirson, 2016). The first interpretation follows Kant's observation and views dignity as a category of non-market goods of all kinds including aesthetics, nature, compassion, forgiveness or institutions such as marriage or the Supreme Court (McCrudden, 2013). ...
... The relevance of these three interpretations of dignity to management theory and practice might be described this way: dignity represents a general category for goods and behaviors that defy the exchange logic, rather than diminish when exchanged they grow (Pirson, 2016). ...
... Inherent human dignity is most salient when vulnerabilities (physical, psychological, social, economic) call for protection (in the persons of employees, managers, customers, suppliers, and other human stakeholders); while contingent dignity is most salient when the self-esteem or selfrespect of persons in a business context need to be promoted (Pirson, Dierksmeier, & Goodpaster, 2015;Pirson, Goodpaster, & Dierksmeier, 2016). ...
... Moreover, dignity research shows that, rather than being merely inherent, dignity can also be contingent-i.e., a human worth that is earned and, thus, to be promoted (e.g. Bal, 2017;Pirson et al., 2016). To advance the field further, we see a need for a conceptual framework for worker dignity under AM that allows us to study and evaluate both the protection of inherent dignity as well as the promotion of contingent dignity. ...
... Although thinking about dignity and work has a rich history going back to philosophers such as Marx and Weber (Bal, 2017), links to dignity in management research are rare. Relatively recently, scholars such as Bal (2017), Dierksmeier (2011) and Pirson et al. (2016) have drawn attention to the need for a humanistic paradigm in management scholarship. One of the main arguments they advance is that incorporating dignity, as a core value in management science, will have positive outcomes for workplace conditions (Pirson et al., 2016). ...
... Relatively recently, scholars such as Bal (2017), Dierksmeier (2011) and Pirson et al. (2016) have drawn attention to the need for a humanistic paradigm in management scholarship. One of the main arguments they advance is that incorporating dignity, as a core value in management science, will have positive outcomes for workplace conditions (Pirson et al., 2016). Further they argue it could help management research contribute better to societal welfare conditions. ...
Article
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This paper proposes a conceptual framework to study and evaluate the impact of ‘Algorithmic Management’ (AM) on worker dignity. While the literature on AM addresses many concerns that relate to the dignity of workers, a shared understanding of what worker dignity means, and a framework to study it, in the context of software algorithms at work is lacking. We advance a conceptual framework based on a Capability Approach (CA) as a route to understanding worker dignity under AM. This paper contributes to the existing AM literature which currently is mainly focused on exploitation and violations of dignity and its protection. By using a CA, we expand this focus and can evaluate the possibility that AM might also enable and promote dignity. We conclude that our CA-based conceptual framework provides a valuable means to study AM and then discuss avenues for future research into the complex relationship between worker dignity and AM systems.
... It is therefore unsurprising that economic research, and by extension business research, have paid very little attention to the notion of dignity (Arnold 2013;Arnold and Bowie 2003;Pirson and Dierksmeier 2014). Pirson et al. (2016) suggest that there have been three interpretations of dignity over time (Hodson 2001;Meyer and Parent 1992;Pirson 2016). The first interpretation views dignity as a category of non-commodities of all kinds including aesthetics, nature, life, compassion, or even institutions such as democracy (McCrudden 2013). ...
... Unconditional human dignity is most salient when vulnerabilities (physical, psychological, social, economic) call for protection (in the persons of employees, managers, customers, suppliers, and other human stakeholders), while conditional dignity is most salient when the selfesteem or self-respect of persons in a business context need to be promoted (cf. Pirson et al. 2016). ...
... McCrudden (2013) argues that in the Judeo-Christian tradition anything that is a part of the creation was endowed with dignity including animals, nature, and innate objects such as air and water (cf. Pirson et al. 2016). Pirson et al. (2016) argue that legal scholars have taken this perspective furthest arguing that dignity represents a general principle of morality and law (Waldron 2013;Waldron and Dan-Cohen 2012). ...
Article
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The notion of dignity as that which has intrinsic value has arguably been neglected in economics and management despite its societal importance and eminent relevance in other social sciences. While management theory gained parsimony, this paper argues that the inclusion of dignity in the theoretical precepts of management theory will: (a) improve management theory in general, (b) align it more directly with the public interest, and (c) strengthen its connection to social welfare creation. The paper outlines the notion of dignity, discusses its historical understanding, and explains its relevance in the context of management theory. Furthermore, it proposes a framework of paradigmatic assumptions along two dimensions: (a) understanding human dignity as unconditional or conditional and (b) understanding social welfare as wealth creation or well-being creation. I propose alternative management theory archetypes and discuss these archetypes’ theoretical implications for management research. I also suggest how management theory can be shifted to contribute toward social welfare creation more directly.
... As a general category, dignity refers to anything that possesses intrinsic value; in business studies, it typically refers to an inherent, existential value that is attributed to humans (Pirson et al. 2016). Originally, this human dignity was given divine origins, but contemporary secular interpretations are essentially based on Kantian philosophy (Bal 2017;Rosen 2012;Dierksmeier 2015;Lucas 2015). ...
... Workplaces have traditionally been considered difficult environments for dignity to be respected in due to the inherent tensions between the instrumental roles of employees and the social distance caused by organizational hierarchies (Hodson 1996(Hodson , 2001. Consequently, humanistic management scholars have investigated how dignity can be maintained and promoted through actions that express recognition and respect (Hicks and Waddock 2017;Goodpaster 2017;Melé 2003;Pirson et al. 2016). ...
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The objective of the present study is to examine the ethical grounding and process-relational nature of meaningful work through the relationship of dignity and meaningfulness. Adopting a practice lens, we show how a shift from methodological individualism to a process-relational worldview allows meaningful work to be understood through organizational activities rather than individual characteristics. Building on practice-based theorization, we present a process-relational model of meaningful work that 1) examines meaningfulness as a flow of experience in the stream of work activity events; 2) highlights how experiencing meaningfulness is embedded in social practices, distinguishing it as a social phenomenon that is defined by this embeddedness; 3) delineates situationality, historicity, and contextuality of meaningfulness; and 4) shows how meaningful work is grounded in the prioritization of dignity in the logic of practice. Accordingly, our model enables a more holistic understanding of how dignity functions as the ethical basis for the experience of meaningfulness in the context of work and organization.
... It has been considered an approach based on human rights and ethical issues because it expresses the need to view work as an integral part of human rights (Murphy & Vives, 2013;Sen, 2000;United Nations, 1948). The protection, promotion, and management of human rights at the workplace are a relevant topic for human resources professionals and one of the fundamental ethical issues in business today (Cragg, 2010;Greenwood, 2002;Pirson et al., 2016;Winstanley et al., 1996aWinstanley et al., , 1996b. The adoption of human rights declarations testifies the adoption of universal standards of ethics, provides evidence of respect for human rights in the businessstakeholder relations, and guides organizational behavior and human resources strategies, policies, and practices (Murphy & Vives, 2013;Schwoerer et al., 1995;United Nations, 1948). ...
... It can be considered an exercise of "ethical sensitivity and awareness" (Winstanley & Woodall, 2000, p. 5). The DWQ could be a relevant assessment tool to evaluate human rights management at the workplace and overcome some deficits in management research and practice concerning business roles in society (Cragg et al., 2012) and its social outcomes (Pirson et al., 2016). Ferraro et al., ,2017Ferraro et al., , , 2020 will enrich the nomological network of the concept (Cronbach & Meehl, 1955;Ree & Carretta, 2018). ...
Article
Decent work is an integrative concept that may account for several labor-related issues. It represents the defence and promotion of human rights at work and business and the fulfilling and productive work maintained with social dialogue. Previous studies developed the Decent Work Questionnaire (Ferraro, Pais, dos Santos, et al., 2018) based on International Labor Organization propositions and workers' perceptions. The paper reports the adaptation and validation of its Italian version in a high-skilled workers sample (N = 1,465). Confirmatory factor analysis confirmed the original version's structural dimensions and good internal consistency reliability. Convergent and discriminant validity, tested using work engagement and personal burnout scales, were supported by the data. Therefore, the DWQ Italian version appears to yield reliable and valid data as a Decent Work measure in Italian workplaces.
... According to this view, it is not factual obedience to the moral command that (conditionally) accounts for our dignity but rather the (unconditional) ability to adhere to such obedience, even when it does not materialize in moral actions. According to Kant, all human beings have dignity (Würde) and as a result the ability to be moral (Dierksmeier 2015;Kateb 2011;Pirson et al. 2016). ...
... As a result, we can and should distinguish between human beings who make appropriate and inappropriate use of their dignity, resulting in a more or less praiseworthy character. This twofold distinction enables us to reconcile the ideas that while we must acknowledge and respect every person's dignity, we should recognize and reserve qualified praise for those who pursue and actualize dignity for themselves and others (Dierksmeier 2015;Pirson et al. , 2016. ...
Article
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In this paper we advance inquiry into human dignity in relation to the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship and innovation in a two-fold manner. First, we explore how concepts from the literatures of human dignity and humanistic management can inform and enrich social entrepreneurship and innovation. Second, we examine case studies of social entrepreneurship and innovation to refine how we think about and operationalize notions of human dignity. In this way, we connect human dignity research more closely to alternative life-conducive forms of organizing. Our goals are to advance an understanding of human dignity and to make this concept more accessible and relevant in business and management, as well as to explore how the practice of social entrepreneurship and innovation can both enrich and be enriched by the notion of human dignity. Third, we draw on the emerging literature of humanistic management to generate a classification system in the context of social innovation that specifies how organizing can contribute to dignity restoration, dignity protection, and dignity promotion. We elaborate and showcase paradigmatic cases, probe the limits of these cases for future research, and consider how to extend this dignity organizing model to other modes of business practice, such as the notion of value creation. Fourth, we outline an emerging research agenda for those interested in connecting innovation and organizing practices writ large with the notion of human dignity.
... The editorial team of the Humanistic Management Journal consider dignity and wellbeing central memes of a more life-conducive economic system (Mele 2003(Mele , 2009Pirson 2016;Pirson et al. 2016). We encourage everyone else so inclined to promote this movement toward more humanistic management practices to enhance human flourishing. ...
... Despite significant inroads made in understanding consumer preferences, we still know very little about the dark side of firms' marketing strategies that may induce psychological disempowerment through advertisements. Our study sheds light on one such understudied phenomenon that is widely prevalent in emerging markets in Asia and Africa and has significant implications for business ethics in the context of human dignity and business (Pirson, Goodpaster, & Dierksmeier, 2016). ...
... Instead, it values and builds upon the complexity and richness of human life, and specifically on what "growth in common" means, which constitutes the main challenge for making the firm a genuine community of people that includes all its stakeholders in the quest for the common good. With this in mind, future research aims to connect the IPS framework with debates surrounding personalist business ethics (Melé, 2009;Sison, Ferrero, & Guitián, 2018) and human dignity-centered organizational theory (Beabout, 2012(Beabout, , 2013Dierksmeier, 2015;Mea & Sims, 2018;Pirson, Goodpaster, & Dierksmeier, 2016;Ploum et al., 2018), as well as with its implications for reversing the degradation of management education (Khurana, 2010). ...
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While business as a social activity has involved communities of persons embedded in dense relational networks and practices for thousands of years, the modern legal, theoretical psychological, and moral foundations of business have progressively narrowed our understanding of practical wisdom. Although practical wisdom has recently regained ground in business ethics and management studies, thanks mainly to Anscombe's recovery of virtue ethics, Anscombe herself once observed that it lacks, and has even neglected, a moral psychology that genuinely complements the nuanced philosophical perspective of a virtue‐centered moral philosophy. Herein, we offer one way to fill this gap by suggesting two opposing psychological paradigms, namely the inter‐processual self and the autonomous self, which are classified according to the assumptions they make about the self, human agency and action more broadly, as well as how they relate to practical wisdom. Upon presenting these moral psychologies, we will bring this proposal into conversation with business ethics to show how the IPS paradigm can enable and support virtuous management.
... Contrary to ethics as utility maximisation, ethics as duty propose that action is ethical if social arrangements are based on the equal dignity and respect of all human beings (Pirson et al., 2016). The core of this proposition is founded on the categorical principle that humans are moral, rational actors, and that reason (as opposed to sentiments) is the source of ethical decision-making (Bayefsky, 2013;Bowie, 1998). ...
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This paper investigates how social enterprises navigate through the ethical complexity of social change and extends the ethical quandaries faced by social enterprises beyond organisational boundaries. Building on the emerging literature on the ethics of social enterprises, I conceptualise ethics as an engagement with power relations. I develop theoretical arguments to understand the interaction between ethical predispositions of a social enterprise and the normative structure of the social system in which it operates. I applied this conceptualisation in a hierarchical and heterogeneous rural Indian context to provide insights into the moral ambiguity of ethical decision-making and suggest pathways for ethical actions.
... Se descubrió que uno de los principales factores para el éxito de una organización es el talento humano, que incluye las personas y la forma como interactúan para crear el clima laboral; así mismo, las organizaciones pueden constituirse en el medio para que cada persona consiga sus objetivos (Chiavenato, 2017). El desarrollo humano en la organización, tiene un sentido hacia la productividad y hacia la dignidad humana, por esto el espacio laboral se torna significativo para los colaboradores cuando les posibilitan su trascendencia más allá de la ganancia económica, tal como lo plantean Martha Nussbaum y Amartya Sen, que así como Elton Mayo se han interesado por la humanización del trabajo (Pirson, Goodpaster y Dierksmeier, 2016). ...
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Las organizaciones actuales están inmersas en contextos globales altamente dinámicos que les exigen equipos de trabajo efectivos para subsistir y crecer, por lo que se requiere encontrar estrategias para lograrlo. Así, el objetivo de esta investigación fue describir los beneficios percibidos de un programa de educación experiencial en el trabajo en equipo organizacional. Comprendió actividades de reto que simulaban situaciones laborales en 49 trabajadores de Pereira, Colombia, en relación con las dimensiones: Objetivo común, sinergia, relaciones interpersonales, reconocimiento, rendimiento y flexibilidad. Se realizó un estudio cualitativo basado en teoría fundamentada a partir de la observación de sesiones y entrevistas a informantes clave. Como resultados, principalmente se encontraron dificultades interpersonales, comunicativas y de falta de consenso, que mejoraron con el programa, excepto la flexibilidad por el poder centralizado. Y emergieron nuevas categorías generales: Percepción del trabajo en equipo y de la educación experiencial; emergentes organizacionales: Estrés laboral y solución de problemas; y emergentes de desarrollo humano: Recreación y condición física; todas mejoraron con el Programa. En conclusión, se incrementó la felicidad y calidad de vida laboral y personal de los colaboradores, el clima organizacional y la productividad, evidenciando así la utilidad de la educación experiencial en el trabajo en equipo organizacional.
... Emphasis on the dignity of the individual is the right granted to each organizational side. Ensuring dignity is protected by a set of codes of conduct (38). One way to assert dignity in organizational life is through selfactions capable to guide individuals towards their own dignity (39). ...
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Dignity at work is a personal feeling derived from a human being and is very important to employees in the workplace. It makes employees treat each other with respect and appreciation through his commitment to the duties of work and loyalty his requirements. Dignity at work consists of many dimensions, including security, reward, equality, individual and collective voice, well-being, safe and healthy. The main objective of this study is to explore the employees perception towards dignity at work at Sur Hospital (Oman). The research approach of this study was descriptive and used deductive method to design appropriate research questions and hypotheses. The data was collected by applying quantitative data and the questionnaire was self-administered and the rate of response was 94%. The ANOVA results indicated that there significant difference among employees perception towards dignity at work. The study suggest that developing human resource activities associated with dignity at work, will be enable organisations to enhance the employees performance through positive employee attitudes at work
... Despite significant inroads made in understanding consumer preferences, we still know very little about the dark side of firms' marketing strategies that may induce psychological disempowerment through advertisements. Our study sheds light on one such understudied phenomenon that is widely prevalent in emerging markets in Asia and Africa and has significant implications for business ethics in the context of human dignity and business (Pirson, Goodpaster, & Dierksmeier, 2016). ...
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Articles Private Political Authority and Public Responsibility: Transnational Politics, Transnational Firms, and Human Rights • Article author query • kobrin sj [Google Scholar] Stephen J. Kobrin ABSTRACT Transnational corporations have become actors with significant political power and authority which should entail responsibility and liability, specifically direct liability for complicity in human rights violations. Holding TNCs liable for human rights violations is complicated by the discontinuity between the fragmented legal/political structure of the TNC and its integrated strategic reality and the international state system which privileges sovereignty and non-intervention over the protection of individual rights. However, the post-Westphalian transition—the emergence of multiple authorities, increasing ambiguity of borders and jurisdiction and blurring of the line between the public and private spheres—should facilitate imposing direct responsibility on transnational firms. Mechanisms for imposing direct responsibility on TNCs are considered including voluntary agreements and international law. However, I conclude that a hybrid public-private regime which relies on non-hierarchical compliance mechanisms is likely to be both more effective and consistent with the structure of the emerging transnational order.
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It is proposed that mangers have to be moral, have to be concerned about the distribution of benefits and the allocation of harms brought about by their decisions and actions, in order to build trust, commitment, and effort among the stakeholders of the firm. Trust, commitment, and effort on the part of all of the stakeholders are essential for long-term corporate success, given the economic conditions of intense global competition that now exist for the foreseeable future.
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Leadership and followership are unified in an interdependent relationship exemplified by the idea of teamwork. Ethical concerns are among the valuational elements essential to developing loyalty and trust in this relationship. However, because of their need to maintain power and distance, self-serving leaders may become detached from how their actions are perceived and reacted to by followers. This pattern can be especially damaging to teamwork when leaders continue to receive disprortionate rewards despite their poor performance, especially when coupled with organizational downsizing and layoffs. Implications are drawn regarding the ethics of equity, responsibility, and accountability in the exercise of authority and power.
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Utilitarianism arguably provides the philosophical justification for suboptimal management theory. We provide a historical perspective on the development of management theory from its utilitarian basis, and highlight the missing conceptual link between management theory and human dignity. We argue that the notion of human dignity has been erased from economics and management despite its societal importance and eminent relevance in other social sciences. While management theory thus gained parsimony, we argue that the inclusion of human dignity in the theoretical precepts of management theory will: a) improve management theory in general, b) align it more directly with the public interest, and c) strengthen its connection to social welfare creation. We outline the notion of dignity, discuss its historical understanding, and explain its relevance in the context of management theory. Furthermore, we outline a framework of paradigmatic assumptions along two dimensions: a) understanding human dignity as unconditional or conditional, and b) understanding social welfare as wealth creation or well-being creation. We derive alternative management theory archetypes. Finally, we discuss these archetypes’ theoretical implications for management research and suggest how management theory can be shifted to contribute towards social welfare creation more directly.
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Starting from the four theses that globalization is unavoidable, ambivalent, incalculable, and can be controlled rationally, ethics has an indispensable and important role to play in the process of globalization. Indeed, a number of international documents published in the 1990s not only acknowledge human rights but also speak explicitly of human responsibilities. The author pleads for the primacy of ethics over politics and economics and, in reviewing both the Interfaith Declaration for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and the Caux Roundtable Principles for Business Conduct, he raises the question about the foundation for the unconditional validity of particular basic ethical values and attitudes. In Küng’s view, no universal ethic, but only religion, expressed by the three prophetic religions, the mystical religions of Indian origin, and the wisdom religions of Chinese origin, can provide this foundation. Yet, religion as a spiritual resource intends to influence concrete behavior and decision making. Therefore, the author stresses the importance of a personality culture for business executives and an “ethic of responsibility” to shape business culture and institutions. He then proposes the Declaration of the Parliament of the World’s Religions Toward a Global Ethic as a basis to develop a business ethics that can be supported by believers and non- believers alike.
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Dignity: Its History and Meaning By Michael Rosen. Harvard University Press. 2012. £16.95 (hb). 200 pp. ISBN: 9780674064430 The author, Michael Rosen, is a British political philosopher who is currently a professor at Harvard University. The book evolved from a series of lectures he produced
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In this article we first review the development of the concept of global business citizenship and show how the libertarian political philosophy of free-market capitalism must give way to a communitarian view in order for the voluntaristic, local notion of "corporate citizenship" to take root. We then distinguish the concept of global business citizenship from "corporate citizenship" by showing how the former concept requires a transition from communitarian thinking to a position of universal human rights. In addition, we link global business citizenship to global business strategy and to three analytical levels of ethical norms. Finally, we trace a process whereby global businesses can implement fundamental norms and learn to accommodate to legitimate cultural differences.
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Corporations are often considered as moral agents. Traditional ethical systems are directed toward human beings-how could human rules be expected to apply to corporations? In this paper an alternative system of ethics is proposed, tailored specifically for the corporate entity. I use the method of Aristotle, in which the character traits (virtues) that are conducive to the goal of human activity, happiness, are derived. For corporations, the goal is taken to be the traditional capitalist one of sustainable profit, and corresponding corporate virtues are derived. I argue that corporate virtues such as Efficient Production, Resource Management, Correct Pricing, and Right Relationship will be beneficial to human beings. It is profitable to consider the interests of human beings, because the corporation will avoid a costly war of offense and retaliation. A corporate ethics is developed that protects humans and has motivating force not based on human nature, but rather profit.
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Communism lost the Cold War, not to pure free market capitalism, but to a range of diverse economic systems based on varying degrees and forms of social regulation of the market. Such social regulation was possible because both polities and economies were primarily national. Since the end of the Cold War, there has been rapid globalization of the economy, but not of effective social regulation. Incipient global political institutions are too weak to regulate global corporate power, while national governments no longer have sufficient reach to regulate large multinationals. Corporate self-regulation has begun, but only haltingly and mostly ineffectively. While global prosperity has risen dramatically in recent decades, not everyone has progressed since the end of the Cold War. Since 1990 some 55 countries have had declining per capita incomes, while inequality has risen within and between countries. It is too soon to say whether global capitalism will be saved from itself by regulation, just as American national capitalism may have been saved by the New Deal reforms it opposed. As Pope John Paul II has warned, the world must not succumb to a “radical capitalist ideology” which “blindly entrusts” social problems to market forces.
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Why does it matter that every negative thought you have had about car salespeople, they have likely had about you? The answer to this question opens up the distinctive challenges, and opportunities, facing business ethics. Those challenges and opportunities emerge from the significant bearing organizational reality has upon individuals' conduct. As we consider how to assign responsibility for misconduct; how to provide guidance to organizational actors about what they ought to do; and how to develop responsive ethical theory, we need to take psychological and social forces into account. Organizations shape human behavior in ways that pose unavoidable questions about responsibility, practical guidance, and the enterprise of business ethics itself. Adopting the agents' perspective suggests that business ethics can take a leading role in addressing these vexing questions that confront ethical inquiry and social science more broadly.
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In "Sweatshops and Respect for Persons" we argued on Kantian grounds that managers of multinational enterprises (MNEs) have the following duties: to adhere to local labor laws, to refrain from coercion, to meet minimum health and safety standards, and to pay workers a living wage. In their commentary on our paper Sollars and Englander challenge some of our conclusions. We argue here that several of their criticisms are based on an inaccurate reading of our paper, and that none of the remaining criticisms successfully challenge our main arguments. By highlighting the shortcomings of their arguments we hope to advance discussion of the ethical treatment of workers in global supply chains.