The Confucian Roots of Business Kyosei

Journal of Business Ethics 48 (4):317 - 333 (2003)
Abstract
Kyosei, a traditional Japanese concept, has been applied to a variety subjects, from biology to business. It has more recently become synonymous with the concepts of corporate responsibility, ethical decision making, stakeholder maximization, and responsible reciprocity. The purpose of this paper is to trace kyosei's modern business application back to ancient Confucian thought. The ideals associated with Confucianism were instrumental in the creation of Japanese business codes of ethics during the early part of the seventeenth century. A short history of this period is presented to provide a contextual framework for understanding these codes. A specific code of ethics, called the shuchu kiyaku, is presented for the first time in English and shown to have direct roots in Confucian writings. Statements from modern company codes and from modern Japanese and American businessmen are presented to reflect the philosophy of business embodied in that ancient code of ethics
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