Moral Motivation across Ethical Theories: What Can We Learn for Designing Corporate Ethics Programs?

Journal of Business Ethics 81 (4):751 - 764 (2008)
In this article we discuss what are the implications for improving the design of corporate ethics programs, if we focus on the moral motivation accounts offered by main ethical theories. Virtue ethics, deontological ethics and utilitarianism offer different criteria of judgment to face moral dilemmas: Aristotle's virtues of character, Kant's categorical imperative, and Mill's greatest happiness principle are, respectively, their criteria to answer the question "What is the right thing to do?" We look at ethical theories from a different perspective: the question we ask is "Why should I do the right thing?" In other words, we deal with the problem of moral motivation, and we examine the different rationale the main ethical theories provide. We then point out the relation between moral motivation and the concept of rationality in the different approaches - is acting morally seen as an expression of rational behavior? Our analysis of moral motivation provides a useful framework to improve the understanding of the relationships between formal and informal elements of corporate ethics programs, emphasizing the importance of the latter, often overlooked in compliance-focused programs. We conclude by suggesting that the concept of moral imagination can provide a unifying approach to enhance the effectiveness of corporate ethics programs, by providing an intangible asset that supports the implementation of their formal components into management decision making.
Keywords Philosophy   Quality of Life Research   Management/Business for Professionals   Economic Growth   Ethics
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10551-007-9545-7
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 26,769
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume - 1739/2000 - Oxford University Press.
Treatise on Human Nature.David Hume - 1739 - Oxford University Press.
The Role of Character in Business Ethics.Edwin M. Hartman - 1998 - Business Ethics Quarterly 8 (3):547-559.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Kant on Virtue.Claus Dierksmeier - 2013 - Journal of Business Ethics 113 (4):597-609.
Codes of Ethical Conduct: A Bottom-Up Approach.Ronald Paul Hill & Justine M. Rapp - 2014 - Journal of Business Ethics 123 (4):621-630.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

75 ( #69,052 of 2,158,893 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #193,044 of 2,158,893 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums