This review of Corporate Responsibility: The American Experience expands and clarifies the book’s concept of corporate responsibility by emphasizing the centrality of social, moral, and stakeholder dimensions, with special attention given to the emergence of these key ideas in mid-twentieth-century America. These developments are seen as supplements to an otherwise comprehensive discussion of corporate responsibility found in this volume.
The business firm, called here the Evolutionary Firm, is shown to be a phenomenon of nature. The firm’s motives, organization, productivity, strategy, and moral significance are a direct outgrowth of natural evolution. Its managers, directors, and employees are natural agents enacting and responding to biological, physical, and ecological impulses inherited over evolutionary time from ancient human ancestors. The Evolutionary Firm’s moral posture is a function of its economizing success, competitive drive, quest for market dominance, social contracting skills, and the neural (...) algorithms found in the minds of its executives and directing managers. Behavioral, organizational, and societal contradictions arise from the normal expression of these nature-based executive impulses, so that the business corporation cannot simultaneously satisfy society’s moral expectations and perform its nature-dictated economic functions. (shrink)
Business ethics in the new millennium will confront both new and old questions that are being transformed by the changed pace and direction of human evolution. These questions embrace human nature, values, inquiring methods, technological change, geopolitics, natural disasters, and the moral role of business in all of these. The emergence and acceptance of technosymbolic phenomena may signal a slow transition of carbon-based human life toward greater dependence upon silicon-based virtualities across a wide range ofhuman possibilities. The resultant moral issues (...) call for a renewal and redefinition of business ethics theories and methods. (shrink)