Righteousness and profitableness: The moral choices of contemporary confucian entrepreneurs [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 54 (3):245 - 260 (2004)
The present study takes Confucian entrepreneurs as an entry point to portray the dynamics and problems involved in the process of putting moral precepts into practice, a central issue in business ethics. Confucian entrepreneurs are defined as the owners of manufacturing or business firms who harbor the moral values of Confucianism. Other than a brief account of their historical background, 41 subjects from various parts of Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur were selected for in-depth interviews. By studying the moral choices they made in the market, it was discovered that, contrary to the prevalent mode of inquiry in economics either to reduce all social phenomena to rational calculations or to consider moral actions in terms of utilitarian values, their economic action cannot be accounted for by the postulate of utility maximization, and that the efforts to do business according to their moral principles can be very costly. The study also attempts to document how these Confucian entrepreneurs reconciled the conflict between the moral values they cherished and the instrumental goals they pursued, and will seek to uncover how they responded when faced with this dilemma.
Keywords business ethics  material interest  moral values  rationality  confucianism  entrepreneurs
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