Principal Theory and Principle Theory: Ethical Governance from the Follower’s Perspective

Journal of Business Ethics 66 (2-3):207-223 (2006)
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Organizational governance has historically focused around the perspective of principals and managers and has traditionally pursued the goal of maximizing owner wealth. This paper suggests that organizational governance can profitably be viewed from the ethical perspective of organizational followers - employees of the organization to whom important ethical duties are also owed. We present two perspectives of organizational governance: Principal Theory that suggests that organizational owners and managers can often be ethically opportunistic and take advantage of employees who serve them and Principle Theory that focuses on guiding principles that are sometimes taken too far in organizations. In introducing these two new organizational governance perspectives, we offer insights into the value of rethinking ethical duties owed to organizational followers.



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Cam Caldwell
Dixie College