The ethical wealth of nations

Journal of Business Ethics 31 (1):25 - 36 (2001)
Michael Porter argues that some nations manifest a competitive advantage deriving from key elements of their economic structure. Some nations are thus disposed by structure to possess what Porter calls a "competitive advantage of nations" (Porter, 1990). In this paper I examine the prospect of an ethical advantage of nations, and in particular, of a set of advantages that extend far beyond the simple dimension of trust so often discussed. I consider, further, how such a range of ethical features would be structured, and what the implications of those features would be. Three conclusions are reached: 1. Morality may create economic advantages for nations in ways that extend beyond the notion of an idealized market; 2. In order for ethics to drive economic advantage, ethical concepts must rise to the status of intrinsic value; and 3. If claims for national ethical success factors are true, then nations should attend to the issue of moral education.
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