Journal of Business Ethics 15 (4):373 - 382 (1996)
This article asserts the need for the ethical analysis of regulatory policy. The article explores the conventional wisdom surrounding the proper role of government, the function of law, the role of lawmakers, the nature of business, and the relationship between business and government. It is the traditional thinking regarding these fundamental aspects of our social life which creates barriers to the ethical analysis of regulatory policy. It is argued that, in spite of the persistence of agency theories of the firm, a stakeholder theory of the firm best approximates a true descriptive and normative view of business organizations. If the role of government is to maximize the full range of public — private relationships for any given series of inputs, and the role of the firms is to maximize the balance of diverse stakeholders' interests, then a stakeholders' interests paradigm becomes the natural foundation for the ethical analysis of policies which regulate business.
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