Business Failure and Corporate Managerial Responsibility

ideals of their mission statements is often compromised. Following the ethical maxim that Aought implies can,@ business ethicists often grant that our practical obligations have to be understood against the backdrop of the relative scarcity or abundance of the business and social environment. Nothing brings on scarcity more dramatically than the total liquidation of a business=s assets. Bankruptcy protection and reorganization can, and probably should, lead businesses to cut back on some of their obligations. But even if we allow this concession to practical exigency, we can still ask probing questions about how the future possibility of business failure may ground our understanding of the current actual obligations of owners and managers (hereafter, managers) to employees. While the obligations of the bankrupt business may devolve to minimal contractual obligations, an analysis of the responsibility of managers for business failure may tell us something important about the nature of both employment and managerial ethics.
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