Adam Smith's Vision of the Ethical Manager

Journal of Business Ethics 90 (4):447 - 460 (2009)
Abstract
Smith's famous invocation of the invisible hand -according to which self-interest promotes the greater good — has popularly been seen as a fundamental challenge to business ethics, a field committed to the opposite premise that the public interest cannot be advanced unless economic egoism is restrained by a more socially conscious mindset, one that takes into account the legitimate needs of stakeholders and the reciprocity inherent in networked relationships. Adam Smith has been brought into the discipline to show that his authority cannot be summoned to fully support the free market sceptics of business ethics. Little has been done, however, to illustrate that Smith's moral writings actually contain the fundamentals of a business ethics teaching for managers who necessarily work within a variety of networks. This article analyses his moral thought to infer a Smithean framework of business ethics for managers. Smith believes that self-interest should be subordinated to moral imperatives, even in the business world. However, Smith rejects the principles of corporate social responsibility on the argument that benevolent impulses cannot be expected to prevail in the commercial arena. Instead of consciously trying to advance the social good, Smith's ideal manager will endeavour to personally live up to the standards enforced by an impartial spectator of his conduct, a theoretical entity reflecting the ethical requirements posed by the manager's social networks and stakeholder relationships. While this internalized onlooker expects a limited degree of benevolence, the overriding demand is for the manager to abide by the dictums of justice and prudence
Keywords Adam Smith  business ethics  social networks  network ethics  self-interest  virtue  corporate social responsibility
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,817
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
John D. Bishop (1995). Adam Smith's Invisible Hand Argument. Journal of Business Ethics 14 (3):165 - 180.
Edward W. Coker (1990). Adam Smith's Concept of the Social System. Journal of Business Ethics 9 (2):139 - 142.

View all 9 references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-06-04

Total downloads

26 ( #70,224 of 1,099,910 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #90,276 of 1,099,910 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.