From an implicit Christian corporate culture to a structured conception of corporate ethical responsibility in a retail company: A case-study in hermeneutic ethics [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 84 (S3):387-404 (2009)
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Abstract

This article presents a qualitative research about the way in which business leaders of a retail company gradually clarify the ethical responsibilities of their company – in an ongoing discussion of particular cases. It is based on 12 years of experience as an external member of the ethics committee. The aim of the article is not so much as to evaluate the different single decisions that were made and implemented to make the company meet high ethical standards, but rather to focus on three issues and on how they relate to each other: (1) the shift from a communitarian Christian set of values to a broader secular framework of basic principles; (2) the way in which business people in a retailing company cope with issues that seem ethically troublesome, when reflected upon from a ethical point of view; and (3) how the process of ethical dialogue has led to a typology of the different levels of responsibility that retailers are willing to attribute to themselves according to the kind of problem at stake. The three issues together illustrate how a company that took the business ethics question head-on systematically moved into a particular ongoing collective learning process

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Geert Demuijnck
EDHEC Business School